Non-rafter looking for expert advice on creek crossing - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 05-21-2018   #1
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 10
Non-rafter looking for expert advice on creek crossing

My only whitewater experience is Class 3 in a huge raft on a guided tour... in other words, I have no whitewater experience.

I want to cross a local creek that's flowing at 400 CFS and about 6' max depth (ie, it's too deep for waders). Is there a reasonable way to cross it in an inflatable?

I'm hoping someone with experience can advise me
  1. Is this a reasonable idea?
  2. What training should I undertake (if any) before attempting this?
  3. What is my best bet for a reasonably-priced one-man raft for me and 30 lbs of gear? (This is next to the road, so weight is not an issue.)

If it matters, this is for Clear Creek canyon west of Golden Colorado.

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Old 05-21-2018   #2
 
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,621
Jake,

It sounds like you're considering crossing Clear Creek in Clear Creek Canyon. Depending on where you go, you are considering a potentially fatal swim in ice-cold water in anywhere between Class II and Class V rapids. If you've never swam a rapid, it's easy to underestimate the power of moving water and swimming that kind of water is strongly discouraged even with the proper gear.

You may want to check out packrafts. These open up a whole new world for hikers. Otherwise, you may be able to arrange a ferry across with some boaters in a raft.

Good luck and be safe,

-AH
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Old 05-21-2018   #3
 
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 210
Are you looking for hidden treasure?

With this year's "snowpack", if you wait a couple weeks, the river bed will probably be burning along with the rest of the state so time your adventure carefully.
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Old 05-21-2018   #4
 
Join Date: May 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy H. View Post
Jake,

It sounds like you're considering crossing Clear Creek in Clear Creek Canyon. Depending on where you go, you are considering a potentially fatal swim in ice-cold water in anywhere between Class II and Class V rapids. If you've never swam a rapid, it's easy to underestimate the power of moving water and swimming that kind of water is strongly discouraged even with the proper gear.

You may want to check out packrafts. These open up a whole new world for hikers. Otherwise, you may be able to arrange a ferry across with some boaters in a raft.

Good luck and be safe,

-AH
Hey Andy! Thanks so much for the reply.

I'm a strong swimmer (NCAA collegiate swimmer) and I've done Pumphouse to the State Bridge in an innertube and no PFD, but I'd like to think I'm smarter now. In any case, if I thought I was going to end up swimming in Clear Creek, there's no way I'd do it given the hazards... like you said, water temps mean quick hypothermia along with rocks, strainers, etc.

There are some pretty slow-moving areas along the creek right now with no exposed rocks, so it looks pretty tame if you pick your spot, but I'm pretty naive and inexperienced so I could be deluding myself.

I've looked at packrafts, but they seem to be targeting the low-weight crowd where this isn't an issue for me since I'm driving up to the creek. I could use something a lot bigger and more robust if that increased my safety. Also, I wouldn't mind a motorized-pump for inflation.

To your last point: how would I go about arranging for a ferry across from a company? I could call a rafting outfit that does Clear Creek, but I worry about scheduling the trip back... getting stranded would suck.

(There is a cable tyrolean about a mile-downstream, if all else fails I guess.)
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Old 05-21-2018   #5
Definite maybe
 
Weld county, Colorado
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try a zorb ball



make sure you post this impending disaster on youtube for us all to enjoy!
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Old 05-21-2018   #6
 
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 995
Came to the right place;

What you are describing, does not sound like a good idea at your skill level. Early flows this time of year on Clear Creek are very dangerous, the fast and extremely cold water, along with rocks and boulders that brake fingers, wrists, arms, legs, heads etc. when propelled into them, is not a good mix of conditions. I pissed on an electric fence one time and for two weeks my girlfriend asked if there was something wrong with our relationship, I said there sure is, I did something really stupid.
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Old 05-21-2018   #7
 
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 568
Not only are you likely to lose your life, more importantly, you might lose your rack of climbing gear. I assume that is why you want to cross Clear Ck.

Everyone is expressing appropriate concern for a reason.

With appropriate practice, in an appropriate boat(not a blue light special), at the appropriate location; what you are asking about is not out of the question. Accept for the lack of background in whitewater, you sound very competent and it should not take long for you develop the skill and river sense that will permit you to do what you want to do.
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Old 05-21-2018   #8
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 10
Thanks everyone for the comments. I realize you are not expressing concern to put me down or denigrate my abilities, but rather to encourage a responsible and safe (as possible) approach.

I found a ferry spot along the creek today that looks really tame: huge eddys on both sides and a deep slow center. But of course I realize I'm probably being dumb thinking it's "easy" to cross there. And the runout is terrible: if I tried to cross and got pushed downstream, it immediately becomes Class 5 which would be... bad.

---

Current Plan: I'm really psyched about this. My current plan (no pun) is to find a kayaking expert (how hard could this be in Colorado?) and hire her/him to help me find an appropriate boat, then spend a few hours with me on slow water and then finally do this crossing with me if/when I'm ready.

Question: Where is a good place to hire such a guide/teacher? Are these forums appropriate?
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Old 05-21-2018   #9
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 10
Following up: I called the owner at Rennaisance Guides (Kayak, Stand Up Paddleboarding, and Instructor Training in Denver, Colorado :: Renaissance Adventure Guides) and talked to him about hiring a guide for a 1/2 day. The guide would give me some basic lessons, help me choose a vessel, drive out to the crossing with me and advise me on what I need to know.

He seemed to think we could do this in a safe and competent way, so I'm pretty psyched. Thanks to all who responded!
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Old 05-21-2018   #10
 
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 210
So what's the hurry? Just wait a month and wade across. Or is that too much common sense for everyone?
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