beginer raft training on Ark? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-04-2006   #1
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 418
beginer raft training on Ark?

We need to get some raft training in before our trip to Idaho. I'd love some beta on the section of the Ark from the town of BV to Brown's put-in. Any major hazards for a newby rafter, other than the dam? How bad is the dam, and is there a good raft line and kayak line through it? What about the section from the Brown's take-out (lower one below Siedell's) and the town of Salida. Not looking for excitement here, just an intro to rafting an oar rig.


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Old 06-04-2006   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 774
From stone bridge to salida all you have is class 2 squa creek and the salida boat shoot which is clearly posted and is three easy drops down the left side. Below BV the new play hole needs a little momentum then there is an easy class 3 after it then the boat shoot. Most people run the left side in a raft I don't know about kayak lines though.
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Old 06-04-2006   #3
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,822

If you're a beginning rafter, the section from BV to Johnson Village is highly underrated and will be a bit more challanging than what you want for training. Its been a couple of years since I ran it but I remember that the drop is about 5 feet straight down. I've heard the owner of one of the major raft companys refer to it as "probably the biggest hit" on the Ark. The right side has a "boat chute" that's so poorly designed that folks run the left. At the flows we've got right now you'll come on to it very quickly and scouting is difficult with private property and hostile landowners on both sides. Below the dam is fast-moving Class III whitewater for which you'll need to be on the ball. Dave Frank and Zach Baird would be better able to comment on how suitable this run as would be for a beginner as they ran it last weekend.

The section below Stone Bridge is good for a beginner but bear in mind that Squaw Creek Rapid, just above Big Bend, is rated a Class III (Western Whitewater, 1994), and will certainly be all of that with current flows. The rapid is a mainly a wave train on a sweeping bend. Of note on that stretch is another dam with another poorly designed boat chute that has some very steep drops and will be a big surprise.

You should certainly consider launching at Wilderness Aware in Johnson Village ($3 fee per boat) and running to Ruby Mt., especially if its the newby rafter's first time rowing. It would also be worthwhile to pick up a copy of "The Complete Whitewater Rafter" by Jeff Bennett.

Just curious - what river is the newby rafter running in Idaho and when?

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 06-04-2006   #4
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Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
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We ran several boats down this section on Wednesday during guide training. We all ran on the left, steep drop with a good sized munchy hole. One boat dumptrucked and ejected all but one for a pretty long rocky swim. The rapid following the drop is pretty long and rocky. I would maybe consider not quite so far left. There is a good eddy on river left, distinct horizon line. You can go into the eddy, stand up in your boat and maybe get a quick sneak peek in time to adjust your approach. If you screw it up, just think of it as a flip drill.
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Old 06-05-2006   #5
Join Date: Mar 2004
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You should look into some other sections that are more quality and fun. Look into Big Horn Sheep Canyon below Salida. This is all really really easy class III water @ 2k. No real hard obsticles, but you will have a little manuvering. There are a few put in's and take outs. Try Rincon to Vallie bridge. I think this is some of the easiest, with one really fun easy rapid, The Flume.

If, it doesn't have to bethe ark, head to pumphouse on the colorado, or grizzly creek, or other sections, Roaring Fork near Glenwood. Or filter plant on the poudre.

Good luck. Oar rigging is a blast.
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Old 06-05-2006   #6
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 418
Andy, we will be launching on the Main Salmon June 22nd at high water, so Jay really needs to get trained quickly. He already has plenty of river-reading skills from kayaking. We're kind of nervous about the dam drop, so maybe we'll try the section bellow brown's.

Thanks for everyone's help!
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Old 06-05-2006   #7
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 244
I'm making a similiar transition from kayaking to rafting, and the skills seem like they are going to translate pretty well from kayaking to oar rigging. I would start on any class III run he's familiar with and purposely take some less than ideal lines. For me the hardest part is figuring out what the boat is capable of and how its going to react. The rafts seem really survivable to newbie mistakes, but I dropped into a small hole sideways to see what it would do and almost had my first flip practice.

Running a paddle crew is completely different - tried that last weekend and I wouldn't have blamed the crew if they staged a mutiny.

I'm also thinking of taking the raft out to a lake or big eddy, throw it in upside down, and see how hard it is to flip upright. I know in theory how to do it, but I think my confidence would be higher if I've actually done the drill once or twice.
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Old 06-05-2006   #8
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Join Date: Apr 2005
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What I have heard from a few kayakers who transition to rafting is that it takes a while to get a feel for how much longer it takes a raft to make a move. In a kayak you can start moves much later than when in a raft. As far as a section to practice on, if you want to go through rapids I would suggest lapping from Vallie Bridge to Canyon Trading post, a couple of miles long.
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Old 06-05-2006   #9
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 26
My own $0.02 A kayaker with solid river reading skills and big water experience will find the transition to running an oar boat on big water pretty easy so long as the boater recognizes the relative inability to maneuver the raft. The fact that you can see so much farther downstream from a raft compensates a lot for the maneuverability.

In my case I got in one shake-down run on the Ark below Salida prior to a Grand trip. However I had been down the GC at kayak level so I knew what to expect. For a warm up run I would recommend getting on the highest volume available. I would suggest running the Grizzly Creek section of the Colorado down through South Canyon.
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Old 06-05-2006   #10
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 22
Hey Jennifer...try shoshone (glenwood springs) laps to get in some good more "salmonesque" training. It is super easy to crank out a bunch of laps between the power plant and grizzly.
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