Yeah, I've read up on it in both my Western Whitewater book and Grant Amaral's whitewater guide for Idaho. I know this area is small volume, technical, woody, and remote-but any first hand accounts would be helpful and info about potential flows in late March.- Also, any info on the shuttle too, I've heard it's a bitch.
I've paddle some of the the tribs in the Bruneau. First -- don;t bother with the East Fork (Clover Creek) it's full of willows and a miserable experience. (The same is true for Mary's Creek entrance to Sheep Creek).
Pervious years, I;ve done the Jardige to the Bruneau in 3 days. It's a beautiful, unstressful trip. Last year, we did Sheep Creek which absoultely blew my mind. Imagine paddling through the Zion Narrows, except the walls a ryolite extending 800-ft above you and riddled with caves and arches.
The shuttle into sheep is the easiest, followed by the West Fork. The horror story that people recount is actually to the put-in on the Bruneau. Self supporters should do one of the three tribs (Sheep, West Fork, or Jarbide) for a start. You can probably hire a reasonable shuttle in Bruneau for these. Last we checked, the recommended driver charged upwards of $200.
There's a gage on the West Fork in Nevada. Late March is probably on the early side, but may work. Last year, we were in there in May with a similar snowpack to this season (The jardige Raqnge in northern NV is aorund 12,000 ft). Sheep contains about 3 class IV+/ V- drops that are easily portaged at the flows we had (1800-2000 on the Brunea gage near Bruneau, ID -- note the NOAA nwrfc forecasts this point with pretty good accuracy.) It is intersperesed with a few class II-III drops. There was very little wood in the river. Once you hit the bruneau, the rapids are big water feeling class III+ (to IV+ if you fall in a hole) with class V+ poinson ivy along the banks.
The jarbidge is straightforward and well documented on the internet and in guide books.
A friend soloed the West Fork with a portage at Julie Wilson Falls. He speaks highly of it.
Feel free to PM with specific questions. It's a beautiful, remote region in which travels are always reminded of the fragility of man. Definately a great trip to undertake.
The West Fork is a gem if you can catch it. Serioulsy weird run-off patterns. I haven't been lucky enough. If you can't get it, the Upper Owyhee above 10,000 cfs is a sweet run. Two days, two Class Vs, a bunch of big IVs and some sick surf waves if you have a planing hull........
The best way to catch any of these rivers is to plan a few weks to be available and then jump in your car and go as soon as the lever is what you want. The Bruneau is about the most amazing long overnight/or 3 day trip around. Rafts are fine as long as they have a pretty good clue in IV water. Make sure it is not too high as Mile long rapid can get a little hectic at high flows. I grew up in Colorado but moved to Boise 10 years ago to follow the rivers. The Bruneau is one of my favorites when it has water.
Yeah -- the Bruneau was my first overnighter and it is stellar.
But yes, the shuttle for the main is a bear -- everybody in our caravan had something break on their vehicle except mine (It's a Jeep - unfair advantage
I've done it and it was an amazing 3 days, 2 night Class III-IV experience. The shuttle is not bad as long as the roads are dry- desert soils muck up when wet. There's a bar near the take out where you can get shuttles, but I think they wanted more the $200, and this was back in '96, plus I'm not sure I'd trust them with my car. The Bruneau put-in is supposed to be hairy. We did the run in June, but '96 was a big water year for Idaho. Watch out for the poison ivy, and I've heard of some complete hacks rafting it, but they had to deflate tubes to line between some rocks on the Jarbridge. That being said, a self-supporter who dislocated his shoulder sure seemed happy not to have to walk out.
About 10 years ago I contacted the BLM out there and they sent me a pack of maps and flow charts. The tubbing info is classic. The maps aren't great but that makes it more fun. Never went, still want to.
I did a 6 day trip in 2003 down combining the Jarbidge and Bruneau. The shuttle logistics are pretty easy (they only get shitty if you try to access at indian hot springs) and I think we paid our driver $80, but we tipped heavily. We went in early june when the water was already droping (started at 1500, took out at 700). We took two 14' oar boats and 3 kayaks, but the rafts were a bit of an ordeal. It made for a great week long trip in some pretty unique canyon, and I want to go back. Doing both runs would make for a kickass self-support trip, if you can carry 5-6 days worth of food. If you know some open-canoes that can handle class IV, the extra gear storage space would pay off. Or if you can get someone to bring a small cataraft, you could even pack some beer!
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