floppy or stiff - low water edition - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 09-30-2013   #1
 
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
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floppy or stiff - low water edition

Running through a couple of older threads looking for shuttle info, I notice an issue that I have heard conflicting views on: raft air pressure at very low flows.

Prevailing view here seems to be to drop pressure in an effort to slither over rocks. Howsomever, I consulted with raft goddess Holly of Vanguard, and with someone who answered the phone at NRS and they opin-ed that they would do the opposite - at low flows they would crank it up a bit, and only come down at > 50,000 CFS (and yes, that is the correct number, I asked) which I think happens somewhat rarely on the upper Colo, R Fork, R Chama, etc., where I hang out.

I personally have followed the slither model, but am now revisiting that.

So, stiff or floppy, and why?

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Old 09-30-2013   #2
 
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leadville, Colorado
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I use the same pressure either way. From experience I have found you want a stiff raft at high flows, a soft raft takes more work and gets surfed easily. I can see the advantage of a soft raft at lower flowers as you can shift where the high pressure area is and slide across rocks easier.
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Old 09-30-2013   #3
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New Castle, Colorado
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The Roaring Fork was running at 900+ cfs. after recent rains and snowfall; up from 600 cfs. Last year, I didn't get to run it in the Fall and 1000 is my usual cut-off for a 16' cataraft. I opted for squishy tubes knowing that the rocks I might hit were smooth and slimy. If the tubes were pumped more, I would have hung up.

If anyone tells you the Fork, Chama, and upper Colorado regularly reach 50,000 cfs., discount their opinions immediately.
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Old 09-30-2013   #4
 
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leadville, Colorado
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Good point if the fork and upper c hit 50000 CFS everything down river would be flooded worse than the front range
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Old 09-30-2013   #5
 
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
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50k

Yeah, but at 50k you would definitely draw the buttboater crowd from the front range. Wonder how long it would take to get from State Bridge to Cisco at that level...
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Old 09-30-2013   #6
 
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Many trips down the Middle Fork Salmon in the fall at low water have made me a "firm" believer in the soft tubes. I've tried it both ways, and soft tubes = much less hang- ups.
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Old 09-30-2013   #7
 
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
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hmmm...

USGS says the max on the Colo Glenwood gauge is 3,110 from 1999, max on the Fork Glenwood gauge is 1,250 from 1986. I know guys dumb enough to run Shoshone at 50k. Probably be ranting here if the cops kept them off.

Given all that, why would you run with less pressure above 50k. Last I heard Ms. Holly was selling rafts in Alaska, maybe she's back.
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Old 09-30-2013   #8
 
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
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Peak of record is 31.5k in 1984 for the Colo, the 3,110 is for Sept 30, so that channel probably could handle 50k. Might lose the railroad... now I'm wondering what the 100 year flood plain looks like... what did that canyon look like before Dillon, Green Mountain, Shadow Mountain, if it hit 31k WITH them.
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Old 09-30-2013   #9
 
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
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Peak for the Fork before Ruedi is 19k in 1957. Interestingly, the Pan has not historically kicked all the much into the Fork, even before Ruedi...
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Old 09-30-2013   #10
 
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
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I dunno, I think with 1 or 2 real wet years to fill the reservoirs followed by a heavy snow pack and then a hard 2-3 days of rain in early May you might get 50k on the upper c. Certainly you could see the 31k again.
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