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I’m sure this issue has been debated every year since 1994 when a certain raft guide took matters into his own hands and strapped 75 pounds of dynamite to a rock and turned a Class VI ledge drop keeper hole into a Class III+ slide that my mama could row through, no problem. But things have changed.

I just got off a high-water trip on the Salt, so the issue is fresh in my mind. As of a few years ago, Quartzite Falls no longer has a place for river-runners to scout, so I don’t think there would be any way to portage it if that were still necessary (it would be very, very, very difficult). Every raft trip would probably have to take out at Gleason Flat, less than half way into the 52-mile run, missing the inner gorge, which has the best rapids and is easily the coolest section of the river.

Now, I’m not condoning the altering of Quartzite. (I have heard rumors about certain sharp rocks in the Poudre being hammered down in the off-season to protect commercial rafts during the summer, and that is definitely unacceptable.) But the truth is that raft trips through Upper Salt River Canyon would now be impossible if Quartzite remained in its natural state. The commercial outfitters would not be running customers through every spring, and there would be no private permit lottery every January.

Let’s hypothetically say Quartzite remained it its original state. On one hand, you could argue that that’s the way the cookie crumbles. If the Upper Salt isn’t passable and safe all the way through, it’s what nature intended, and one less Western river to be trampled on by the ever-growing population. But on the other hand, we can now enjoy one more incredible natural resource, and learn more about and grow a deeper appreciation for our surroundings.

The guy who blew up Quartzite says he did it to save lives, but from what I’ve read he likely did it because he was tired of waiting in line for hours to portage the rapid. Either way, I’m sad that I never got to see the Falls in its natural state. But I am glad that I got to run it this year, and hopefully many years to come.


Salt River Arizona Whitewater Rafting Photo Gallery
 

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I'm a lehman in the matter, but by the photo depiction and description in the photo's I think its a good thing.
 

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umm.......blowing up rapids is bad mmmkay.

glad you enjoyed the wilderness. would have liked to see it at it's original state too. unfortunate.

Cody
 

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Who's to say that with different technology, better boater, different flows, etc. that it never would have been runable? Imagine if someone had done blasting at Lava on the Canyon because it was "unrunable" years ago. This is like climbers chipping holds to make things climbable... I see it as unethical for many reasons, but the number one is that maybe somone would have been able to do it later on.

Keep chipping down the sharp shit on the Poudre though... I have a new raft coming and as those of you who know me know, I like to occasionally wrap a little bit of hypalon around the rocks on the Poudre....

Oh, and I do think we should blow up the Glen Canyon Dam. Hayduke lives!
 

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As of a few years ago, Quartzite Falls no longer has a place for river-runners to scout, so I don’t think there would be any way to portage it if that were still necessary (it would be very, very, very difficult).
What happened to the portage route?
 

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Hey Mania, you're stupid. It's a great question and an interesting thing to ponder. Lots of rapids have had this kind of history (Iron Ring on the Upper Gauley for example) and if we can't discuss and talk about the philosophies behind it, it will likely happen more and more. I can't help but wonder if the guide who bombed that rapid on the Salt had been involved in this kind of open forum if his actions would have been different. I guess you would rather we just talk about cool kayak stickers and new videos? Sick bra!
 

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Having run Quartzite before the blowup at moderate flows, it wasn't hard to make the right sneak in a kayak.

If you don't appreciate wilderness, stay out of it.
 

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Yep, it's a legitimate question. Should we take wood out of the river? Should you alter the stream bed to form a play park? They all seem to be altering the natural state of the river, just to different extremes. The Salt case would seem to be an extreme case. From a legal standpoint, it's a good thing that dynamiting rock in riverbeds is illegal - not much argument there.

We alter nature all the time for commerce and recreation, so from a moral standpoint, it's a reasonable question to ask. In this case, it's a balance between recreational benefit, environmental impact, and what I'll call impact on natural beauty (maybe that falls under environmental impact). I'm not really sure what the particular issues are surrounding this particular drop, so I can't judge.

I also think there's a legitimate argument that says creating opportunities for a wider population to appreciate natural wonders is important to environmental preservation. We might love it if the only people that ever ran the Salt or say the Ark or the Poudre were dedicated members of the boating community, but when it comes time to build a dam because some f-in cattle rancher with government subsidized water rights can't get his alloted share, or some f-in builder wants to put in the next Highlands Ranch in the desert, then it's not so great if 99.9% of voters are totally apathetic because they never saw a stream beyond the city runoff going into their gutter when it rains.
 

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No Blow

I was robbed of a goal to run Quartzite that I made to myself when I portaged it early in my river-running career. To say that it's okay to alter a rapid for personal reasons goes completely against my philosophy. Preserving the remaining wilderness in its natural state should be a goal of our nation and especially of river runners and other people who enjoy wilderness.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison has many challenging rapids and portages, and it obviously is out of reach for most river-runners as is many other canyons or rivers. We shouldn't even entertain the idea of altering such runs. Not to be crass but I prefer to recreate in the wilderness with people of the same such opinion.
 

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At times you have to wonder though... I certainly don't condone the blowing of the rapid. However, I have watched stupid, STUPID private boaters - and now on a frequently rafted river, people might not die. Personally I think the seriously annoying portage would be FUN! It's part of the adventure having to make things work though elbow grease & heavy lifting... After all the time on the river is more than just a couple cases of beer. :)
 

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After all the time on the river is more than just a couple cases of beer. :)
Yeah, you're right. It takes at least 3 or 4 cases.
 

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Hey Mania, you're stupid.
I'm stupid huh? thats a personal attack and not appreciated on this board. you don't really know how stupid or smart I am but I will wager I am smarter than you.

questions however can be stupid - although maybe you are right that this should be discussed so we don't have ANY DOUBT that blowing up rapids is wrong. don't make me come over there thru the internets to correct you.
 

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Let's see....... I've done the Salt 14 times now: 8 before they blew it up, and only 6 since. Had portaged, lined, and ran Quartzite at lots of different levels, once at 18,000cfs. Burly, but paddleable, and lineable on the right. Those dumbasses wrecked the whole thing for groups that had their shit together. Prior to the alteration, you didn't need a permit, because the river was self-regulating. If a group of people didn't think they had what it took to get their party around Quartzite, they didn't clog up the river or the campsites. It was never crowded, except maybe at Quartzite once in a while, but again, if your group had their shit together, lining on the right was fast and simple. Now, you have to apply for a permit, and you have to hope your permit date is within the Salt's notoriously fickle runoff window. We used to just watch the snowpack and the weather, and when it started climbing, we'd put a trip together. Admittedly, more people get to "enjoy" the Salt now, but is that necessarily a good thing? And, are they necessarily the people who should be getting to "enjoy" this incredibly wild place? I guarantee you the beaches and side canyons were in far better condition before Quartzite got blown up. Seems like people who don't care nearly as much about this unique place now have easy access to it and take it for granted far more than when one mildly troublesome rapid kept the river much more "self-regulating." I miss the way it was, plain and simple.
 

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It is the wrong thing to do on many levels. I am sure that if Quartzite was not an isolated incident, the powers at be, both public and private, would of just made off limits, many runs. Private access is tough enough to get without the owner having to think about people blowing up the river. Now think of some stupid beginner, not able to run your favorite drop on your local river. If they could think, "They did it on Quartzite, on X, on Y, why can't I do it on Z so I can run it?" That is just what we do not need. It can be taken to the extreme where the government decides that anything beyond class III is costing the public at large and something has to be done. You would not want your favorite IV or V being blasted into class II or III dom, would you?
 

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Yep, it's a legitimate question. Should we take wood out of the river? Should you alter the stream bed to form a play park? They all seem to be altering the natural state of the river, just to different extremes.
no its not. wood and play parks were not the question. the question was it good to blow up quartzite and the answer is no. if you think there should be some debate on that then i must respectfully say please don't boat.
 
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