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Discussion Starter #1
Looking for advice on floating Cataract Canyon at the beginning of May this year. Having a tough time finding info - found lots of info about high water floating during runoff at the end of May though. Expected flows, difficulty at this level, recommended boat size would all be appreciated.
 

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Flows probably in the 20s - 30s, although it varies wildly with snow pack & temps. Take anything from your kayak to your J-rig, there's plenty of room to sneak the big stuff if you want at those middle flows.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Flows probably in the 20s - 30s, although it varies wildly with snow pack & temps. Take anything from your kayak to your J-rig, there's plenty of room to sneak the big stuff if you want at those middle flows.
so i'd be able to sneak all the "big drops" at this flow? are there any mandatory big hits?
do you think I'll get better response on this in the trip planner forum?
 

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At around 30 I recall lots of big wave trains but no mandatory hits in the big drops. The first 10 or so were kind of washed out, mile-long was starting to pick up, and there were some healthy holes between there and the end. BD 2 has some moves to make if you want that clean run, especially now that the claw (BD 2.5) is in the river, but center to right I think would be reasonable in a small raft. I started boating with the start of our decade-long drought, so I've only run those levels once - in a triple-rig (hooray liability!), but remember spending the whole run wishing I had a smaller boat. Don't pack the fine china, but I've been more puckered looking at Horn or Warm Springs. Features like the red wall aren't out yet at those middle flows. And how many boats in the trip? Picking up carnage with friends is a whole lot easier than solo. I think a lot depends on experience and comfort level. Ultimately, most everything comes down to that classic question - would you be willing to swim it? If not, you probably shouldn't go. If so, yee-haw!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
there will be other rafts and kayaks in the groups but haven't discussed logistics. i'm ok with swimming but my wife not so much so the idea was for her to walk the big drop sections and I'd be running an empty raft - i'd hope to have a safety raft behind me. I don't know if that is crazy or not? is walking this section do-able? are the big drops the main section of big rapids or are there more? you mentioned mile-long - is this part of the big drops? also Horn/Warm Springs?
 

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Horn is in the Grand, Warm Springs on the Yampa. Walking anything is possible, but there isn't an easy trail along Cat. Mile-long is the section from rapid 15-20 (or something like that). I wouldn't want to run down there with thoughts of walking rapids and not flipping. It's relatively benign, but even the wave trains are big enough to send you off if you miss a bit. If I can read between the lines a bit, it sounds like you would have a happier trip picking a time of year when flows are in the mid-low teens and the water is a bit warmer.
 

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cat run

bob, be prepared for anything, we ran the cat last 4-20- big drops measured 30,000. I tagged the claw and flipped my 16 foot gear boat. safety was in place, so all was good. the scouts are easy enough, but the walk, portages would be stupid. Run that shit and wear a drysuit, cause big drop 2.5 might just swallow you up. OOh yea watch out for the dead cows man, dont drink that water. you might stay away from the cat at these flows, it will be heavy, and there really aint no walkin through the big drops. furthermore if your crew is not dialed, yall could get worked.
 

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the big drops are easy to walk around, but it would get pretty tedious walking around mile long and all the other rapids that are big at that level.

with that said, i would be fairly surprised if cat was at 30K in early may this year with the thin snowpack in the yampa/upper colorado basins unless we really start getting dumped on soon. 15-20K strikes me as more likely.
 

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Our mid-may trip 2 seasons ago peaked at 67K. Flipped my 13.5 footer in big drop 2. River rangers (who have the coolest boat I have EVER seen on the river,) picked up 2 of my passengers (after crushing one between them and an S-rig.) I rode through Satans Gut hanging onto the belly line of my up-side down raft. Wildest ride of my life... the 16- 18 footers and the dory on the trip made it throught fine. 13.5' felt really small that day.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
yeah - i wonder if it will be lower this year. We're talking May 1st or 2nd I think. what do you guys predict? And it's a little mellower at 15-20K?
 

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Speaking of a prediction here is the web site that predicts and takes a look at different years of water flows. I am planning a April 19th Cat trip and have been wondering what this year will do. About 10 days out we can start getting an idea if it will hold or not. ( were looking for a NO DRAMA FLOW OF LESS THAN 13000) Be ready in May for HUGE FLUX's in water. Even if we dont get huge flows this year you will see 5000cfs changes overnight. Happened last year and got flooded out of a camp. Take a look on this web site at the last 3 years. Huge over night changes...
As for this year, I predicted a milder April and may but the river will see big water. Snow pack in the water sheds are 60% of normal and temps are still fairly mild. Lot can change this month. Lots of April people heading down cat so look for trip reports!

COLORADO - CATARACT CANYON (CTRU1)
 

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i can't get that site to work with a 5/1/2010 date
Bob, The site looses it's accuracy that far out. It is a prediction center, best for 3- 7 days out. Does that make sense? Start researching around the last week of April ( Or I can post how it was since we'll be getting off APRIL 27th)
 

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I ran it in July once when it was running at 30K when we put on. We camped at Spanish Bottom and, judging by my "story pole", the river came up around 3 vertical feet that night. We never saw a hint of rain. The next day we could have walked across the river (if we were lumberjacks) and never gotten wet due to the number of trees in the water - they were pretty much bank to bank. We hung out a day and the river pretty much dropped to the previous level though there was still plenty of wood to deal with. Our one weenie tubed, 16' raft made it through upright but with just the one raft and 3 kayakers it felt pretty exciting. So 30K is manageable but we could just as easily have gotten stuck with 50K and gotten our asses whipped. Cat ain't the Grand. You could swim a looong ways so be prepared. Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Bob, The site looses it's accuracy that far out. It is a prediction center, best for 3- 7 days out. Does that make sense? Start researching around the last week of April ( Or I can post how it was since we'll be getting off APRIL 27th)
it would be a lot cooler if it did! no just kidding - that is a good idea though - i don't know the algorithm behind it but couldn't you average all past years with similar snow pack or something for predictions further out maybe?

i'll look forward to reading your trip report!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
mike_hartley - that sounds shady! just curious - what do you mean by "Cat ain't the Grand"? I have no firsthand experience with either.
 

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mike_hartley - that sounds shady! just curious - what do you mean by "Cat ain't the Grand"? I have no firsthand experience with either.
Bob,

The drops on the Grand can be big but they tend to be short with mile long pools at the bottom. On Cat the rapids at higher flows run together, hence "mile long rapid". We broke an oar in Big Drop #1 and barely got the raft into the eddy above #2. Screw up at the top of #2 and you have a very high probability of swimming all the way through the Gut. I would not want to do that. This sums it up for me - next year I'll be taking my 14 year old on a Grand trip. I wouldn't consider taking her on a Cat trip at 30K unless it was on a triple rig. Cat is not "hard", especially if you are a competent kayaker, but screw up and swim and it could be ugly and scary.
 

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swimming the cat

agree with mike, i swam the gut on 4-20 last year. Our team was dialed, pro guides all the way around, between the 10 of us there was well over 100 years of whitewater experience. satans gut is a violent place, i flipped a 16 foot gearboat there and was in the water way toooooo looooong, even though my team was dialed. These rapids are long and hard to get out of, nevertheless nothing like booty beer after capsizing:oops:
 

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You can definitely walk the Big Drops. I used to guide Cat in the 80's and 90's and I go back every year at the end of May for high water. I'm not sure what the flows will be for you in early May. Rapid #18 has the Button Hole at the end of a long wave train and it's typically not scouted and it blends in nicely so keep an eye out for it.
During low water I scout several of the rapids above the Big Drops and at high water I only scout the Big Drops.
Get a feel early on for catching the eddies they are stronger than you think. Several rafts blew by Brown Betty Beach (btwn rapids 1 & 2) because they didn't expect the current to be so strong.
The entrance to Big Drop 3 can pull you off line easily at certain levels it swirls like a big eddy.
Have fun out there!
 
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