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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Folks,

We have a long standing offer to use a cabin in the Buena Vista area and some friends who want to develop more river skills so we are starting to plan a trip to the area this "summer". Here are the parameters I am trying to meet:

1) A time that is appropriate for a paddler who has guided easy Class III day trips in Utah that are likely more like Class II with a few mellow rapids. Definitely nothing like Browns. He also led friends down daily trips in Utah, mostly Green River daily and been on Diamond Down. His wife has always been a passenger.

2) Their equipment is more limited than ours so I am guessing a river temp with at most wetsuits is in order.

3) Not too crowded but we will be there for a full week so a busy weekend day or two isn't gonna scare us away too much. Plus having some other people to watch can only help the learning curve.

4) Goal: see new whitewater for them and my wife and push all of them to become competent Class III boaters (mostly IK but they may want to try a paddle rig, though I have no experience with that).

5) I have only done Brown's, Fractions and Frog Rock over the years.

Thoughts? I know its hard to predict this early but we are calling in a long standing offer on the cabin and want to give them as much notice as possible. Thanks in advance and can't wait to see the Ark again, its been about 6 years.

Phillip
 

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After the 4th of July, but before August. By then the water has warmed up substantially and the spring melt has generally dropped out. Probably. I say after because that weekend is always one of most crowded, but folks don't tend to hand around too long.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thx, RiverVibe.

Ironically last time I was there was a July 4th weekend during a big flood year. Had Brown's to ourselves the afternoon of the 4th. Was a big ride and I think we saw 2 other boats that afternoon.
 

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Yep. I was thinking July 15 or so. Worst thing to worry about that time of year are early monsoon thunderstorms.
 

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Yep. I was thinking July 15 or so. Worst thing to worry about that time of year are early monsoon thunderstorms.
Do they have reliable patterns in the Ark Valley? I know when I thru-hiked the CT back in 2000 they were reliable afternoon events (extremely violent but only lasted 1-2 hours at most) at elevation but never had much chance to experience them in the valleys. I know its full blown monsoon season in the SW desert where I live but their patterns are very localized.

I am hoping with the small group we have and a cabin to base camp out of that we can do early starts if necessary to avoid the worst of the storms.

Thx for the heads up.

Phillip
 

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Yeah from about mid July to late August a little localized yet moving storm will meander from somewhere around BV down through the canyon. It will usually hit me at Zoom around 2:30 and be done by 3:30 or so. These can be violent and may produce lighting and light hail, but it's really nothing to worry about on the river if you throw on a jacket. And then it clears up and leaves lovely evenings.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We will be heading out the week leading up to the 4th. Not ideal for crowds but it is what the other 3 folks, like my wife, could get off for work.

How far in advance do they announce and designate releases? My parents live in the Front Range and would love to wet a line with them afterwards but I doubt rafting flows and trout flows align well that time of year. Might just float them some of the stretches we had been playing on. Gonna try to do a steelhead float in the fall in Idaho with my father which will satisfy my desire to fish with him.

Found CPW/AHRA, any other sites to keep track of?

Thanks again,

Phillip
 

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CPW's site is the primary place changes in releases are announced. They don't announce everything though. Good to watch the gauges directly: Division
Lake Creek below Twin Lakes and Clear Creek below CC reservoir are the 2 to watch for changes.
I would suggest avoiding Browns mid day July 4th weekend. Evenings are great launch after 4...
If flows drop below 700 at Wellsville just below Salida by July 1 they will initiate the Voluntary Flow Management Plan which will leave Browns at approximately 550-600.
I wouldn't be surprised if the flow is higher than this without augmentation July 4th.
 

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Even if the water is still up at the end of June on the Ark, which it likely may be, it'll nonetheless be dropping. And the clarity will be a couple feet, since the lower silty valley runoff will be long gone. Which is all to say that the fishing conditions could be pretty stellar. You'll mostly be fishing a double nymph rig of attractor style flies in the soft water seams on the edges (maybe pat's rubber legs, pheasant tails, hare's ears, & prince nymphs, with smaller midge patterns as your second fly), and in the pockets behind boulders. I love fishing runoff - it's when the big boys are a lot more accessible because they pod up in the softer water to get out of the heavy flows. If you know how to read water for finding fish, the catching can be pretty ridiculous. PM me if you have any more fishing questions. Good luck!

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Discussion Starter #11
I threw fishing in on my last post. The primary trip is going to be rafting and IKing with some buddies from Cedar for a weakfish but my father is curious about meeting up for some fishing afterwards.

Phillip
 

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Mid July is good for your requested kind of whitewater and fishing-

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Late June to early July is looking like it could be bigger water than anticipated considering the snow accumulations from this latest, never-ending storm. I am guessing there is no way to know what flows will look like yet for the timeframe, correct? Any educated guesses? I saw people comparing it to 2010. Time to start looking at graphs.

My buddies have done low water Class II-III so it will be interesting to see how the Ark trip challenges them. I was in their (Browns, Town and Milk) during one big year and just remember it being very swift and few to no eddies to recover though its been so long I may have glossed over the nuances.

Phillip
 

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Even on big water years, the flows in Browns usually drop to around 1000cfs by July 4th. It all depends if we keep getting show and cold temps up in the mountains.


Browns is a nice pool drop section and wont give rafters too much trouble below 2000cfs. It is definitely sporty for a newbie IK'er. When I was a guide, Browns Canyon was our advanced section for customers who want to take down an IK. A good warm up run is from Stone Bridge to Salida if you want before you head down Browns.
 

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Does anyone have any info on how th Ark looks right now?

Wanting to go float/fish on Wednesday but have never been down there.

Is the river blown out(clarity)?
Where is the best put-in/take-out for an easier float?

I have a tendency to get nervous before floating a river Ive never been to, so the info is greatly appreciated!

THanks for the help and sorry for the hijack
 

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459 cfs currently- good low level for a first timer. Should not be too off color at that flow- but that could change quickly with one warm day. You row the Eagle, right? Salida east to Rincon is well within your level. Good fishing float without too much traffic. Good ramps at both ends with plenty of parking (take out has a fee). Pretty much read and run- first real rapid by the giant rock on river right is the hardest thing on the whole stretch. 2+

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Even if Brown's is around 1,000 to 1,500 at the end of June, that level is still very friendly as many of the obstacles are under water, and it's not really pushy like it gets around 2,000 and up. I agree the water temps just get nicer the more we get into July. Also the 3-4:00 launch keeps you away from most of the crowds.

Since most of the your experience is in the upper stretch, check it out from Stonebridge all the way to Parkdale for some good variety.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks, folks. Looked more at the historic data and not too worried.

In all honesty my buddy is likely going to be better at whitewater than I am in the long run and I bet he will thrive on a medium to high water on the Ark. He is more athletic and goes all out on everything he does.

I cut my teeth on the Ark 12 years ago when I bought my used JPW Cutthroat and travelled CO and UT teaching myself to row so there is some nostalgia to returning there with my wife and friends. Looking forward to the trip.

Phillip
 
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