Horsethief/ Ruby canyon - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-14-2019   #1
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Horsethief/ Ruby canyon

Hello everyone,
I am new to the forum and also new to rafting. I have a 9'6" raft with an oar setup. I was looking at doing ruby horsethief on july 25th. I reserved black rocks 4 if anyone wants to join. I have experience in rafts on the open ocean, and limited experience in a river. I took a kayaking class in college and have done some class I and II rapids in a kayak. Im just wondering what the river is like that time of year. Also with my experience level would it be safe to go on this trip. Any tips or advice are very appreciated. Thank you for your time in advance.

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Old 06-15-2019   #2
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,774
I have done RHT many times but not at big flows. Like we are getting now in 2019 boating season. Big water may well change things, hopefully other big water RHT veterans will add their comments.

At "normal" flows not much rapids but some swirlies through Black Rocks.

I would advise heads up as you approach the Westwater Landing. Get river right close to the bank and be ready to make your moves to land. Normally lots of current and easy to miss I think in really high water. Great Camps and a good training run in my opinion

Go no Go is a decision you must make after considering river conditions on launch day.
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Old 06-15-2019   #3
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 91
I can’t recall the year but we did it at 35K once. Super quick trip. My notes say 3 hours total on the water without any rowing so lots of time at camp. Nothing changes outside of black rocks. Black rocks behaves very strangely at those levels. Big “sloping” edies, strong whirlpools, and massive boils. At one point around BR2 we had the front right tube of our 14’ raft sucked under unexpectedly. Not hard, really, just very strange and out of the ordinary. Make sure passengers are wearing well-fitting PFDs and stay in the boat as a swim through there at that level would not be pleasant.
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Old 06-16-2019   #4
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 597
Originally Posted by okieboater View Post
I would advise heads up as you approach the Westwater Landing. Get river right close to the bank and be ready to make your moves to land. Normally lots of current and easy to miss I think in really high water. Great Camps and a good training run in my opinion

Words to live by, kill your speed when approaching the ramp, while I was ramp rat at Westwater yesterday, we had 3 trips miss the upper ramp and desperately row for the lower one, folks in the river etc. It's FAST flowing water with a lot of debris in it. I'd guess it's running at 8 or 9 MPH... One group put in at Palisade, and was to Westwater in 7 hours... Wow..
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Old 06-16-2019   #5
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1968
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 14
The highest I've done this stretch was at 28000. At that point, you could float into some of the sites, but the swirlies can get you in the Black Rocks 5-8 area. To get #4 at high water you'll want to crawl along the left bank a you approach that area.
By July 25th the river should be much lower. Get on the water early in order to avoid the infamous afternoon winds!
As someone else mentioned, more people than you would imagine miss the ramp. Pull over above the ramp and wait your turn to get into it. Going around to the lower side and getting in when the water's high is tough. There is a second ramp if you miss the first one, but it's even harder to get into.
Have fun!
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Old 06-16-2019   #6
Cedaredge, Colorado
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 82
By july 25 it should be down considerably. Even at 35K, it is not difficult, other than the afore mentioned advice to not miss the take out ramp. I would expect a bumper crop of mosquitos as the water starts to drop,
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Old 06-16-2019   #7
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 3
Thank you to everyone who offered advice and gave their input. I really appreciate it. I will wait and see what the flows are at from there. Sorry it took so long to respond i was on a fishing trip.
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Old 06-17-2019   #8
Corn_Dog_D's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 29
Shouldn't be an issue late july as the water is already going down. A great place for your first trip, just bring a good map and keep track of where you are and get to the correct side of the river well in advance. Just did it at 36K, black rocks was interesting and there were a few "real" rapids, by that I mean, compared to no rapids at lower flows, but nothing serious. We easily made the take out at 36K but we also knew where it was from prior trips. Total river time at 36K was 5 hours from Rim Rock. Pretty fun time!
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Old 06-17-2019   #9
Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 365
Also keep an eye on the thread that the BLM just posted. Looks like there is a strainer above black rocks at the moment, it may be gone by late July, but keep an eye on that thread to see what happens with it.

A lot of times before a run, I like to watch this forum, to see if anything pops up as far as current river conditions, or anything I may need to know about. Good chance that if there is something out of the ordinary on the run, somebody hear will share it with the community.
The river probably thought, “ he is such an insignificant, pitiful, little creature, with such a short time to live, I will let him go this time, and try to teach him something” - Buzz Holmstrum
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Old 06-18-2019   #10
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2015
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 46
Hey! Here is my take on it from going down last weekend:

I have to imagine that by July 25 the water will have come down substantially from where it is at now (30K). I ran it Fri/Sat last week in a 10.5' RMR Storm. We were on the river later because we drove in from Denver and weren't worried about the wind because the river was flowing so fast.

We camped at black rocks 2. I was in the middle of the river with a stiff wind in the face coming into the left hand bend into Black Rocks... as soon as we started to make the turn into black rocks and saw camp 1, the wind shifted to our backs and was pushing us to the opposite bank. I rowed like hell and couldn't make it. Caught an eddy behind a big boulder on the opposite side of the river, circulated up, and tried again, but still missed it because of the wind. We ended up landing by black rocks 3 and walking the boat up to BR2. like everyone has been saying, it's not a tough float, just can surprise you when you aren't anticipating it.

The takeout definitely came up quick at these flows. This was my third time on RHT and I did a double take this time when I came around the corner and saw the cars at west water.

Definitely saw all the swirls, eddylines, and boils in BR, but didn't really have any issues going through it.

Last comment is that by July 25 I would guess that the river will be down and the bugs will be out in force. Bring whatever you need to have a good time, because I have done the float once when the bugs were bad and it was miserable and we spent most of the time in the tent.
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