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Discussion Starter #1
Planning on coming down to the Ark on the 3rd of June for a week or so, haven't ever been there. Wondering what levels standard ratings for different stretches start not really being accurate. We're a group of mostly rafts and cats of various sizes, and me in a kayak. This is a plan B trip after canceling a MFS permit due to likely higher water than we are comfortable , and I'm wondering if we need to be looking at a possibe c plan. Overall the group is comfortable III to IV-, and I'm sure there will something we could run, but hoping to get a lot of variety while we're there, and if much of it is likely to be too high, we might look elsewhere.

Thanks.
Sam
 

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Browns is solid class 3 to 3plus at 2000. Lots of 2plus from stone bridge down to valley bridge. You can have lunch in down town Salida mid float if you plan it right. I like Salida East to Valley bridge for the family.
 

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There will be something for you in the Ark Valley in late June. We'll likely be on the back side of peak. Pick up Whitewater of the Southern Rockies or Colorado Rivers and Creeks for accurate descriptions of the runs and ratings at different levels. You'll find lots of Class III/IV options. Browns Canyon is an obvious place to start.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
3rd week of June would probably be a much better time for the group, but we get there on 3rd, a week form tomorrow.
 

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Best book for the Ark is Rampton's guide. Not very detailed above Buena Vista, but there are excellent rapid by rapid descriptions for the rest of the river.

Arkansas River Guide: Granite to Canon City, Colorado by Thomas G. Rampton | 9780963479976 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble

The Ark starts to take on a big water feel above 2000 cfs, and you are likely to have more like 3000 coming soon. Pretty much everything that 2+ becomes 3-, 3+ becomes 4-.....etc.
I guide trained on Ark in 2011 and have run Browns many times since then, but all at water < 1800 given crappy snowpack last 2 years. This will be my first time on water at (I suspect) 2500-3000 by this weekend. Any rapid in particular I should watch out for and/or scout that I wouldn't expect at this water level. Planning to run from RR Bridge all the way down to Heclas this Saturday with 2 other rafts all of us in oar frames. Particularly interested in anything that is much trickier at this level.
 

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denali,

Take the time to scout the Silver Bullet as it was changed this winter. The line is still on the right but there was a pretty sticky hole half way down on Saturday at 1800 cfs. Not sure what it will be like next weekend but it was causing problems this weekend.
 

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denali,

Take the time to scout the Silver Bullet as it was changed this winter. The line is still on the right but there was a pretty sticky hole half way down on Saturday at 1800 cfs. Not sure what it will be like next weekend but it was causing problems this weekend.
Was there a "best way" to avoid the hole? Interesting as I didn't recall Silver Bullet being all that big a deal previously.
 

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I agree about the Silver Bullet. I haven't seen it since the flows jumped up, but I saw a lot of potential for it to get tough. There is a signed scout/portage trail on river right. The biggest action will probably be right off the start in the Fractions/Miracle Mile section. Pretty straight forward, just really big offset waves with a few massive holes to dodge. The gradient isn't too steep though so you can usually see them coming. The hazard at Frog Rock will be under water, but still run left and keep all your passengers in your boat.
 

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Was there a "best way" to avoid the hole? Interesting as I didn't recall Silver Bullet being all that big a deal previously.
It was rebuilt over the winter. Still a left and right channel, but they spread the drop out and raised the height of the island and created a type of ledge at the top and (at lower flows) a big standing wave at the bottom.
 

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The standing wave at the bottom of the island was a powerful hole at 2000 cfs. We had the best luck hitting the left side of the hole but one boat had a full dump and a commercial trip had a dump right behind us. Hopefully at higher flows things will mellow out.
 

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Over the past few years, I've run Browns i particular at all kinds of different flows - from 650 to over 4,000. It changes with every level. Some of the rapids get easier at higher flows (less technical, fewer boulders to dodge, etc), some get trickier at higher flows (larger holes, pushy currents, boils, etc).

That being said, it's still a great stretch at pretty much any level you're likely to see.

One that hasn't been mentioned yet that can catch you at these higher flows is Big Drop. It's after Zume Flume and a couple of others on a left to right bend in the river, but can sneak up on you. At lower flows you can punch through it, at higher flows, it can flip you. It sneaks up on you at higher flows in part because other rapids wash out and you get to it pretty quick after you run Zoom Flume.

I haven't seen Silver Bullet since it's been re-done. Too bad if it's really creating issues, because I would have hoped they would have made it an easy line for those that didn't want to run the left side drop. Why create yet another reason to have to portage? That makes no sense.

Is the left drop still tunable in a raft? What is it like now? That used to be one of my favorite drops on the river!
 

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If you want another kayaker allong I will join you. Salida area handles the water better, and there should always be something to run on the Ark with high flows.

Let me know what you decide, maybe the Eagle as another option.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Eagle might be good- we're plenty mobile, so other stuff around CO will be in our sights. Would be great to have another kayak around- I'll let you know our plans as we get a little closer , Bob. Would be great to paddle with you.
 

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Is the left drop still tunable in a raft? What is it like now? That used to be one of my favorite drops on the river!

The left line looked doable except for the rebar that was sticking off of the left bank. I wondered what else might be under water and decided to take my chances with the hole on the right.
 

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The left line looked doable except for the rebar that was sticking off of the left bank. I wondered what else might be under water and decided to take my chances with the hole on the right.
Was this recently? I surveyed the drop after the reconstruction and it appeared all the rebar was removed...I mean shit, that's half the reason it was redone...
 

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Ditto the comments on big drop. I've been through it maybe 500 times with no incidents (but yes, some close calls!) between my private and commercial days. Finally, in the last big water year (2011?), it flipped me at about 3800 cfs.

I didn't see too much discussion about raft ripper either, it has pretty big holes at high water, but just as important, at extremely low water it is very difficult to find a decent line and I know a commercial guide who flipped commercial boats on back to back days at 250 cfs. If you go beyond Hecla, Seidell's and the Double Drop are also to be reckoned with. Scout Seidell's at any level if you've never run it.

All that said, overall, Brown's offers a great high water trip for those with the experience, the pucker factor is way lower than in numbers and the gorge. But you still better have your big pants on, and a swim through staircase could get long and cold. Calling Brown's at 3K and up a class IV run because of the ramifications of a swim is up for discussion, but that is the way I approach it.

I ran numbers at something over 3000 cfs in a 14' raft, and didn't really enjoy that as much as I usually do on that run, same with gorge. Just too big and not enough breaks to have fun. But hey, I just turned 50, so maybe I'm just getting old...

The stretches between Stonebridge and Parkdale are all good fun runs at high water, just not as many rapids and the scenery includes Hwy 50. If you run down to Salida, do not miss (or make sure you DO miss it!) the diversion dam located very near the smelter tower, it is deadly at most levels, and worse at high water. Follow the directions of the signs in the area and go left.

Be careful to go to the Eagle thinking it may be easier, high water is still high water and it has the potential to wreak havoc too.

Whatever you do, have fun and be safe!
 

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Was this recently? I surveyed the drop after the reconstruction and it appeared all the rebar was removed...I mean shit, that's half the reason it was redone...
I was there on Saturday.

There was rebar sticking out of a large rock at water level on river left. They had put in a new head gate at the top of the rapid on the left and cemented in the island down the middle. The channel on the right side dropped in three steps ending in a large hole. After the island the remainder of the rapid looked to be untouched from previous years, favoring a left line.

Dan
 

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...Finally, in the last big water year (2011?), it flipped me at about 3800 cfs....
Me too, dump-trucked us that same year, about the same level. That's how I know. LOL

Eagle might be good- we're plenty mobile, so other stuff around CO will be in our sights. Would be great to have another kayak around- I'll let you know our plans as we get a little closer , Bob. Would be great to paddle with you.
I've never run it over 4,000 cvs above Wolcott (it's approaching that now), so I don't know if you can get under the bridge at Trestle. Worth taking a look at to be sure.

Rodeo at the end of that Lower Eagle run can get people too, but you can always take out at the park rather than the fairgrounds at high water.

Both Browns and the Eagle are fantastic runs IMO. Fun, scenic, easy shuttles, etc. Can't go wrong with either as far as I am concerned.
 
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