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Got 3 boats so far for Cataract Canyon on May 12th. Looking for a few more boats and people to join. Any takers?
 

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I've got a crew of 3-4 boats putting in the day after you guys. What are you expecting as far as flows? I'm guessing we'll be sticking low-mid 20's. Any guess? I've only run it at 19,000, so this'll be an adventure!
 

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Got 3 boats so far for Cataract Canyon on May 12th. Looking for a few more boats and people to join. Any takers?


Well I reckon... If you're still looking for some friends, I could and would love to join you! I've got a setup for a spare passenger or two, and maybe another boat if there's room...
 

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This is a run that is on my wish list. I would love to join up, but am unable this year. How many days are considered ideal for Cataract? I have a 14 foot cat with large 26 inch tubes and am not sure what kind of water levels would be best. I am thinking fall, low water?
 

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It's my first time running Cataract. I got a bud who has done it several times and he's going. I am not sure about what to expect for the flows. With this mild winter, I have a feeling it will fun but not ginormous. We're going to watch the flows closely on May 1st and every day after and decide if it's within our capabilities. I'll ask my bud what he thinks we can expect for flows.
 

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Yeah, I think ideal time seems to be about 6 or 7 days. This is my first time on Cataract but the books I've read make it sound about that long. There is a lot of flat water, 30 miles, after Cataract Canyon so most people motor that portion. If you do a little motoring before Cataract Canyon then the trip might be as short as 4 days. Any one with more experience on Cataract can add to that? I'm using a 16' Air Lion with 26" tubes so I feel pretty good about floating Cataract. Another buddy floated Cataract in the fall with his family (2 kids) and they said it was not bad at all whitewater wise.
 

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Well I reckon... If you're still looking for some friends, I could and would love to join you! I've got a setup for a spare passenger or two, and maybe another boat if there's room...
Excellent! :D The more the merrier! This permit can take up to 40 people so if you know any more, let em know. I think I have to have a final count by May 1st or so.
 

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I floated Cat putting in May 5th, 2010, and we took 7 nights, 8 days to do the whole thing, with one layover day and no motors. This time around we're doing 5 nights, 6 days, 1 layover day, with a motor.
Anyone else out there have any predictions as to the water level for a trip putting in May 13th this year?
 

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Cat can be done reasonably in 4 days (even at low water) with motoring the top and bottom. A motivated crew could probably do it in three - one day motoring the top, one day blitzing the whitewater, one day motoring out. With big enough motors and sport boats (think RIBs (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats) you can do it in a day. On the other hand you could take ten days, hike, drink, float and just enjoy a super relaxed trip.
 

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What kind of water levels in cat would you guys say would be good for my 14 foot cat? It has large 26" tubes and the frame is 67 inches wide measured from the outside rails. I would rate myself as a high intermediate-low advanced boatman skill wise.

I so want to do this river some day, but from what I have seen of the Grand Canyon, I have MUCH respect for this river.
 

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CattleRattleRiver - with the snowpack we've got, you'll be lucky to see 20k down there in mid-late May unless something changes drastically in the next few weeks. The Colorado and the Green are already up and we're looking at more like a late April peak. You're picking the right time to come, though. It's going to boney later in the summer.

Snowolf - you'll be fine in your 14 footer. Especially if the water level is hovering around the high-teens to low-twenties, then you'll have a lot of fun. Everything is big and pushy, as usual, but pretty straight forward. I started rowing Cat when I had several trips under my belt but not much big water experience, and while I sometimes get a bit gripped, the runs are, for the most part, really straightforward. Especially at those levels, there are no "must-hit" features, but some really fun places to get a good ride.

For all y'all waiting for a low water fall trip, realize that Cat at low water is pretty nasty. While I've never seen it below 6k, I know several friends that were down there in 2002 when the water was low (and it will be lower this year) and say it was more frightening than high water (and these are commercial boatmen who have been running the canyon for decades).

You can do it in 4 days, but it's a drive. If you want to float until you hit the lake, plan on no less than 5 but more like 6 or 7+, especially if you would like to take your time, do some hikes, or layover.You can always night float Meander, which can take a day off for you. The lake has come down, although how much I don't know. There will be current for a bit but bring a motor anyway, or plan on sleeping during the day and rowing at night. Don't forget the boatmen's rapids below Ten Cent - super fun.

Enjoy your trip!
 

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Thanks for the info. What makes the Cat worse at low flows? I know on many rivers, big nasty holes tend to wash out at higher levels and technical rock gardens are often submerged. Is this pretty much the case with the Cat?
 

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Yeah, basically. There's a lot of places to get hung up and a lot of power behind the current, even if the flows are low. If you're in the wrong place you can find yourself in a lot of trouble. In '02, there were wraps and flips despite there being very little water.

Cat at high water is extremely powerful, but the river takes control for the most part and navigating it is more of an issue of finesse and patience than strength. It's big and scary and I know lots of guides that won't touch it, but my boyfriend has run his 14' avon solo through there as high as the 70s and, while it's munchy, he's been fine.
 

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Thanks for the info. I will take big pushy water any day over potential wraps and pins. Even a flip in big water to me is less scary that the other nasties.
 

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OK, I have to dissagree. I worked the entire season of 2002 in Cat, and saying that low water is scarier than high water is wrong, unless you are running a motor rig.

In 02' we had to stop running motors when they started to get hung up. I ran 18' rowies for the rest of the season mostly solo. There are plenty of rocks to dodge, but it is not that bad especially in a small boat. At about 3k (I think) the left run in Big Drop 2 closes up and you have to stick the right run just right to avoid Little Niagra (rock), but if you over shoot, you land in the rock pile left of Niagra. We did have filps at #5 and Big Drop 2 that year.

At high water the likelyhood of making it through in a 14' cat is slim. Rapid #2 gets big enough to filp a small boat, and the "North Seas" flip 2 1/2 snouts fairly often. Then you get to mile long. a flip in or after mile long means that swimmers are likely to swim the remainder of the canyon.

The Big Drops at high water are particularly nasty for non motorized rafts. At Big Drop 2 the most difficult run is presented. I have seen oar powered rafts sneak to the right of Niarga, but many experienced Cat boatmen, me included, will never advise this run because of the consequenses of a mistake. There have been numerous deaths because of this hole and the perception that one can sneak to the right of it.

the left run at the big drops involves starting on the left side and pulling with all your might to the middle to hit the "sweet spot" on the Red Wall, a 30ft standing wave. If you miss this sweet spot you will likely flip (you may flip anyway), and then you will likely flip in "the claw" below the Red Wall. If you make it into the tail waves (wich are capable of fliping a small boat as well) you then have a very difficult pull to the right. You must make this pull in the midst of the towering tail waves of Big Drop 2. All the current from the tails waves pushes into "Satans Gut", a massive system of holes on the right side of Big Drop Three. If you are in the tail waves, never give up on your move to the right. Any swims in the Big Drops will result in swimming "the gut".

In short, I would rather bump into a few rocks and maybie get out my Z-drag than swim 15 miles of frame breaking death holes anyday.

This year is not going to be lower that 2002 either. In fact, it has already peaked higher than 02 did. While I agree that there is not much snow this year, I expect we will see at least some runoff from the Colorado and Yampa Rivers. If BuRec adds a fish spike from Flaming gorge to that then you could see 30k in Cat this year.
 

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Hey Mike,
Sounds like you've got some experience on this river. Would you agree that Cat will likely be below 20k in mid-May? I ran it in '08 at around 19k I believe, and the only thing that really scared me was the Frog/Frogger/Froggie hole on the right side of BD3. It was probably a 14 foot hole that wanted to suck each of us right into it. Any idea when that's big and when it's washed out?
 

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I would guess that it will be below 20k in mid May.

It has been a few years, since I have been down Cat and a little over six since I worked there, but as I remember just under 20k is the biggest level for the frog hole. It starts to wash in the upper 20's and then in the 30's the Brama wave (aka. Big Bertha) comes out below the Frog and more in the middle.

It seems like as the level gets down to the mid to lower teens the frog is a little easier to miss. The run is just to the left of it. I have ended up in the frog hole a few times and I always made it through.

At around 10k the run in big drop 3 shifts to the left side. This run is all about scouting. when you scout from river left look for two "demples" (little wave things at the top of the rapid). The slot is right between these "demples". as you walk back to the boat keep lookin back at those demples as a common mistake is for boaters to confuse the correct dimples with some other little dimple things. If you drop this slot correctly, you will scoot right past the "big mossy" rock, but you will not hit it. Then enjoy the rest of the rapids as they are all just good fun from there on out.

One thing I will point out is that when the frog hole is a factor, you usually have some recover time below the rapid, and the rest of the rapids are all pretty straight forward.
 

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I have only run Cat at 10k-ish or below in a oar rig; was a swamper in a 38' J-rig at 44k one day as we ran the meat of Froggie. Don't remember much other than feeling the boat stall a bit at the top with 1 75 HP motor running. Wild experience.

So, does the left line "close up" above 10k on Big Drop #3?

Have heard epics about the oft-forgotten (in modern times) Mile Long and Capsize stretch of the river at higher flows. I have always found that area plain fun below 10k but could see some bigger features and nasty swims at higher water.

We are keeping our eye on the run for early May, all depends on how big it gets.

To the idea that the run is a breeze...I would never say that about Class IV, or above, whitewater. I know of people who have swam 3 miles, lost fingers and have read enough about deaths in there to always be aware of possible consequences. I would really hate to flip in #2 and swim through #3 which seems to be a possibility at any level.

Phillip
 
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