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We will be on Cat the second week of August and looking for some insight. Shuttle is set (though we didn't know that August in Moab is like Mud Season in the mountains and some close). Hite is operational at the current lake elevation, so that is good.

Few questions for anyone that has been down recently or can otherwise assist:

1. Is there any guidebook other than Belknap's Canyonlands? I'm not impressed, but have not been able to find anything better.

2. How far does the current travel at this lake elevation of 3642?

3. Are the downstream rapids and Imperial active or buried at this elevation?

4. Research seems to indicate the Big Drops are pretty straightforward at these levels (guessing it will be around 6-8k). What about The Claw/Mother-in-law? Anything to pay special attention?

Thanks in advance!
 

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when we ran it last spring (early) i think it was around 8 grand. The big drops are pretty straighforward. I don't know what the lake level was, but it was definately lower than it is now. We paddled another 8-10 rapids after the end of the Bellnap's Canyonlands book though
 

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Ran it twice in the last 6 months 45k and about 6k. Current to the Dirty Devil take out which I recomend over the Hite TO. Imperial will have 6 to 8 ft user freindly rollers down the middle and at least 2 smaller rapids below. Have never saw a better guide. Fuzzy is right about #5. sj
 

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The Lake-I was down there on the 10th of July At 20k, have run it a bunch in the past. Here's the take on the lake- When we rowed off it on the 11th/12th, it was exactly .17feet higher than it is today. We had current to about narrow canyon/mille crag bend. Current that you could notice. I was down two weeks before that on July 1st when the river was 33k and the lake and was 1.5' lower, and there was current to about the bridge.

This last trip was just a solo raft and 2 kayaks, and we rowed off the lake. We finished the last rapid and started rowing about 2pm, a 3 raft trip finished at the same time with a 2.5hp motor. The motor assist got to the dirty devil at 11pm, we got in at 4 am. We were rowing and when it was breezy/windy we would only make a half mile an hour-with no wind we would make 2-3miles an hour. So at 8:30 pm, when the wind quit and it got really calm about Dark Canyon, the three of us traded off every half hour and decided that we had better get out while the getting was good.

If you don't have a motor, plan on rowing early or very late. The lake is only going to drop from here on out, but the river isn't cranking either, so figure current stops about dark canyon. I know a three row raft commercial trip with a 30 horse yamaha figures 5 hours of lake time minimum to the dirty devil/north wash takeout. Check the lake level, when it is below 3640' you should have some current to the bridge, and lower than that it only gets better.

The Rapids- Imperial and the stuff to about waterhole canyon are definitely out and fun. Some holes in the last one-kind of high right and lower left-I think, easy enough to scout if you want to. I am curious about the Claw at lower levels - 2 1/2 is sort of like a repeat of Big Drop 2, except reversed. The Claw is a giant under cut pour over on the left,(at 2 1/2) the lateral off the shore from the right funnels water towards it-I've only seen it at 20k and 33k and ran it without scouting last year at 47k(that's another story)- it wasn't there back in the day when I was working down there. At 20k, 2 1/2 was the issue and bigger waves than 2 or 3. I hope to go donw there this fall and see it lower, and when the lake has current again. I'm sure you can get through- as the water drops there's more time to go where you want.

By the way, what's the "mother in Law"?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Mother-in-law is an alternate name for The Claw.

Not sure if we will have a motor or not. One of the guys is thinking about buying one for the trip, but hasn't materialized yet.

Thanks for the info so far... Keep it coming!
 

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We will be on Cat the second week of August and looking for some insight. Shuttle is set (though we didn't know that August in Moab is like Mud Season in the mountains and some close). Hite is operational at the current lake elevation, so that is good.

Few questions for anyone that has been down recently or can otherwise assist:

1. Is there any guidebook other than Belknap's Canyonlands? I'm not impressed, but have not been able to find anything better.

2. How far does the current travel at this lake elevation of 3642?

3. Are the downstream rapids and Imperial active or buried at this elevation?

4. Research seems to indicate the Big Drops are pretty straightforward at these levels (guessing it will be around 6-8k). What about The Claw/Mother-in-law? Anything to pay special attention?

Thanks in advance!

Just ran Cat this past weekend. It was about 10k the day we ran the rapids. I too looked for an alternative guide book with no luck. The latest version of the Belknap is better than the old one, though dont pay attention to the lower canyon campsites. They are submerged.

The lake came way up this year. The current stopped a couple miles below imperial, which left the rapids through Imperial active. They had some fun wavetrains.

At this level, Been Hurt, BD2 and BD3 all required a pretty simple (yet very crucial) move. All other rapids were pretty easy and striaght forward. The Claw (I'm pretty sure its the same rock as Mother in Law) was out of the water and very easy to miss.

Hope this helps.
 

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Other books:
"a river runner's guide to cataract canyon and approaches" by Don Baars. Not sure if it's better than Belknap, but it has a bit more reading material and the maps have a different feel.
"Cataract Canyon - a human and environmental history of the rivers in canyonlands" by Robert Webb, Jayne Belnap, & John Weisheit. This is a full book, not a river guide, but is super cool and goes section by section, so if you have the time on the river it's a great companion to your map book.

The rapids were out to #31 when I was there in May, and should all be there still at this level.

You've probably seen this, but the left run in BD#3 is totally without oars once you make it through those two tiny marker waves. The current just banks you right around Big Mossy.

Bring lots of shade and lots of ice. Cheers!
 

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I know this is too late for the original poster, but if anyone else has the same questions...

There is very little current below Gypsum canyon - much less than in Stillwater Canyon. Rowing out would be very character building with a headwind, so we motored from there. The current seemed like it totally died at Dark Canyon since the going got so much slower there. A 4 horse pushing 4 rafts took about 8-10 hours or so, though wind makes this variable. We used about 5 gallons of fuel for the 4 horse. I wouldn't even consider doing it without a motor with the lake at this level.

There are some decent camps in narrow canyon right after mille crag bend on river left. If you choose your landing spot carefully the mud is dry even right at the beach. The sites are a little post-apocalyptic looking with crevasses in the dried silt that are unfriendly to bocce ball, but the views are great and i was happy to be able to get off the lake early in the day before the winds come up in the afternoon.

Amazing how much has changed in there since 3 years ago when I ran it last.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Rowing out would be very character building with a headwind...
That's a way to phrase it...

Took off yesterday on a beautiful 'breezy' afternoon.
 

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I was playing in the desert this weekend and saw those poor souls paddling through that headwind. I hope that they had a lot of fun earlier in the trip, because it sure looked miserable to me.

Also, I observed the river current under the bridge is no longer. If anything there is a current moving upstream!
 

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Last year (over Labor Day) we ended up rowing through the night. We left Wave ten at 9-10 am and hit Hite around 4-5am. We ended up tying all the rafts together (6) and alternated rowing, there were 18 of us but largely the rowing was done by two really drunk dudes. It was not exactly pleasant. We had a motor but didn't register it properly.... Lesson learned!
 

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The lake has fairly minimal current this time of the season; current dies a few miles before Dark.
Gypsum right and left are the last desirable camps on the lake. However, there are a few camps on the lake that are beginning to show as of 8/21/10; Above Bowdie on the right (small/medium sized camp), Slab Camp is fairly small now, but showing signs of improvement, Cove Canyon is ok, and a rainforest-like camp burrowed out above Dark Canyon on the right. None of those camps are as enjoyable as those in Cataract, but they can help the non-motorized folks get out without too much trouble.

The Mineral Bottom road is closed for the rest of the season, possibly longer. Launching at Green River, Crystal Geyser or Ruby Ranch will be the alternatives. The Colorado will be experiencing increased traffic but the green river will be fantastic for those who have the time and the ability to launch upstream.
 
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