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Discussion Starter #1
I know spring/summer is a ways away, I am organizing a Deso trip for late spring and everyone is asking what the preferred shuttle route is. The BLM site says you can go through Nine Mile Canyon and flat tires are very common with 3 hours of dirt roads and 4.5 to 5 hour one way trip from Swasey's Beach. Or you can take US 40 through Duchesne and Myton which is longer but only one hour of dirt. Is the drive through Nine Mile Canyon better, more scenic, cool, does it really take 5 hours? Mapquest says you can get from Green River to Ouray in 3 hours 15 minutes going through Duchesne and Myton. Would you be missing out on some cool sites if you didn't go through Nine Mile Canyon? All that said what is the better route? Thanks.


 

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I second RiverRunners Transport. Ed and Melanie are top notch. Used them for years. On a Lodore trip, we had to have a person life flighted out. They went to the takeout, picked up the truck of the husband's who's wife was injured, and met him at Jones Hole so he could get to his wife in Grand Junction. They wanted nothing extra. They just wanted to help and were happy things worked out. We gave them a big tip.
 

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The Russian
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I've left 10 bucks in the car as a tip and 30 bucks for gas. I labeled the gas money but forgot to label the tip money for the driver. Sure enough, when I picked up my car at Swasey's, I saw the change from the gas money with a receipt and the 10 bucks that I left for the tip :(

I was explained by Melanie later that the driver wouldn't take any money unless it's labeled as a tip. I was amazed by the driver's honesty and gave a bigger tip next time.

They shuttle as a convoy to keep all cars together and never exceed the speed limit. I actually saw their vehicles once on hwy 6 and sure enough they were going the speed limit. That was nice to see for myself.
 

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Yes riverrunners is great We got a flat and they took it to a shop and had it fixed for us so we would not have to deal with it on the way home. They are very classy people!
 

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I prefer to fly. We drive our cars to the end and then fly back the morning of the launch. If you have never done the trip it gives a nice view of the river from above and some ideas for areas you would like to camp.
 

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The Russian
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I've flown once as well. The view and the ride is nice. The hike down is a bit of a pain. Taking the extra day for the shuttle is a bigger pain IMHO. But I would recommend flying once as well.

Cost wise, you do end up spending a little less per car, but not if you have to stay in a motel overnight.
 

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Renaissance *******
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Half the crew drives down and flies back the other half rigs in the morning. I also recommend renting one of the screen huts for the putin night.
 

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Another vote hiring the shuttle and going w/ RiverRunners. Great company and you don't want to spend an extra day of your vacation driving.

Another vote for going through Myton. I'll take 100 miles of paved highway over 50 miles of that rockshard embedded washboard any day.

If its in the early spring, the skeeters may not be a problem, but if its after the peak, bring the beekeeper suit for the put-in. I actually had a ranger check us out wearing one. She was understandably sick of slathering DEET or some other toxic crap on her entire body every day.
 

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Was up there this summer for a first of June launch.

Skeeters at the put in were every thing and more than I had been told. Where are the bug eating birds etc when you need them!!!!

At the put in, Head nets are a must and the army surplus units worked really well.

When the year end sales hit, I got one of the mesh coat deals for my next outing on Deso Gray. That and some Deet on the hands should make rigging and loading much easier.

Our Trip Leader had rented the top of the hill screen houses and man that made sleeping much easier.

Took us 30 miles to get out of the bug problems, but at 12k cfs it was super easy to make the miles, we were launched by 8 am and easily did the 30 miles with daylight to spare and took a extra layover day. It was a hoot.

My first trip and with the extra bug net suit, I look forward to another hi water run.
 

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Done it various ways. Always from the north and east (i.e. driving from Colorado). Always with one vehicle.

Self-shuttle (mostly)— Drove to Sand Wash, dropped boat stuff and partner, left about 9 pm, drove the Nine Mile Canyon route in the dark (not so scenic but no flats), slept in the car at the Green River airport. Next morning flew to Sand Wash with Red Tail Aviation, arrived about 8:30 am, walked down, rigged, and left by 10:00, pretty toasted. Red Tail had shuttle drivers on tap who picked up the car at the airstrip and drove it to Swasey's on the take-out day. I've also stayed at Sand Wash and rigged, while my partner did the drive and flew back.

Shuttle service— Done this several times with different shuttle drivers. Last October, dropped a set of keys at Desolation Outfitters homebase in Roosevelt and asked the owner to check the car for equipment, etc. which he did. Unloaded at Sand Wash, with a couple hours of daylight, and set up the boat on the ramp by dark. Slept in a screenhouse. Parked car. Loaded and launched. The takeout day, upstream winds were so bad that we pulled off about 4 miles above the takeout. Deb hiked to the takeout while I broke down the boat and carried the gear through the jungle up to the dirt road. Just about the time I got everything stacked by the road, she drove up. Our car was at Swasey's, clean and in good nick. Here's the link:

Desolation OutFitters

A variation, with large parties, would be to convoy the vehicles to Green River with the drivers flying back. To find the boats rigged and ready to launch. The late-night drive and airport sleepout saves the $$ for a motel, but there ain't no water or toilet facilities when the office is closed, nor any convenient patches of trees or brush. If the drivers leave by day and aren't back 'til the next morning, the folks who are left at Sand Wash have to bear the bugs for a pretty long time.

On balance, I think the shuttle services are worth the cost.
 

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Yes on RiverRunners shuttle

RR are great folks, and put your vehicle in thier locked lot in Vernal, and drive it down the morning of takeout date, ensuring none of Green River's less lovable characters mess with the trucks & trailers. Only way to go because of the shuttle drive length as well. Tip well, support drivers' river trips. If you have trailers, I strongly recommend NO on Nine Mile; it is that rutted, boats bounce. It is also that rocky. And there's gas/air/ice/horrible pizza NW 1 mile on hgwy past the put in entrance turn @ Myton.
 

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Paid a shuttle service this last year. They took the dirt road to Hwy 6 and then to Green River. When we got to the take out the vehicles looked like they had done the Utah version of the Dakar Rally. All the trucks were ok except for some loose nuts and bolts. Every one of the groups street vehicles, mostly Subaru's, had flat tires in the parking lot. This made for a lot of extra work for those people on take out day.

The shuttle drivers claimed it only takes them just over 3 hours each way via that rout. The next trip this spring we will try something different. Instead of paying the $150 per vehicle to shuttle them, we are going to drop a shuttle car off at Swaseys and proceed to Sand Wash. Leaving the vehicles at Sand Wash is probably a little safer and we can do the rigging and be on our way same day - keeping the bugs to a minimum hopefully. At the end of the trip we will plan on a final night on the beach at Swaseys rapid. A group can take the shuttle vehicle to get the trucks and the heavy drinkers have the rest of the day/night to sober up and de-rig before driving back to Colorado.
 

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My brother set up the trip and my group was invited at the last minute to fill in spaces on the permit. We ended up organizing and supplying the gear for the trip but he took care of the shuttle arrangements. I can not seem to locate the name of the company in any of my old e-mail communications with him. I do remember they were out of Moab though. I will see if I can track it down.
 

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I'll definitely contact them should we choose to do another paid vehicle shuttle. Everyone here has given them good praise on how they run their shuttle service. The company who shuttled our vehicles did not steal anything or purposefully harm the vehicles. They were transported, locked up and shut down as requested. The rout through Nine Mile over to Hwy 6 is obviously rough on non HD 4X4's. The road vehicles definitely didn't have the tires for how rough the dirt road was. My truck and trailer were in good shape at the take out. The driver was courteous and willing to learn how to operate my highly modified Power Stroke diesel since it has special accessories for work and back country travel that need to be operated before it can be driven. It is my understanding that many of the shuttle companies prefer the Nine Mile Canyon rout as it is quicker. I did ask the driver which way they take and found out at the put in that Nine Mile was the rout they were planning. They came in from that direction and said the road was in good shape. I wanted to know about that road as it would be the preferred road to use if doing a shuttle from Green River.

Out of curiosity, what does RiverRunnersTransport typically charge per vehicle for the shuttle?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
It depends on how many vehicles you have to shuttle. The price goes down after 3+ cars. I can't remember now how much it was, but I checked 3 other companies and RR were the lowest.
So this will be my first Deso trip and I will call RR for sure. It seems like the vehicle shuttle and flight are about the same price for 1 person or 1 car. Is a late spring high water float the best time for a first trip? No one in the party has seen the canyon yet. We are a small group 2 boats and a ducky. I ask because I did 2 1 day WW trips back to back in May of 2008 as part of guide training. The first day the flow was 18k and the next day it rose to 21k. I barley remember much of the canyon from Marble Canyon to Last Chance just good big whitewater, it took about 20 minutes between the two and we were paddling out. If we were camping it would have been hard to recognize spots and sometimes eddy out in time at these flows without someone that knows the canyon. Also we were on Lodore at about 22k after the Yampa Confluence in late May and if not for the veteran guides with us we would have floated right past our camps at these flows and not known what was coming up next, like what to scout, where to stop etc. Would high water on Deso present anything like this for a crew new to the canyon?
 

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The Russian
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nicho, before 2008, I would say just go for it. In August 2008 there was a big mud slide that created a new rapid called Joe Hatch (check youtube for lots of videos). This is a must scout rapid especially for new boaters.

That said, Deso is the best training canyon for expedition type rafting. It starts FLAT, and I mean the paddle out on WW is a walk in the park compare to first 25 miles of Deso! So launch early from Sand Wash, or pay the price of the winds.

After you get the first 25 miles under your belt, the canyon starts to drop slowly and the rapids get bigger as you go further. So it's perfect to test your skills and warm up before you hit the bigger stuff.

The mandatory scouts I would recommend for new boaters are:

Steerridge (scout is on the left steep bank, right as the river starts turning left and you hear the roar, don't miss it). The easy run is on the river left. A very obvious tongue, straight forward, big wave train. The right channel is open in high water and has a fun hole to punch through.

Joe Hatch (a mandatory scout on the river right) you have plenty of time to get to the right once you hear the roar. Go past the huge standing pool of water on the right and an island, then hug the right side and find a good spot to pull over to scout, there are a few scout points now. The Joe Hatch can be run on Left or Right channels. Left channel is the biggest and flipped a lot of folks, but it's more straight forward. A huge wave train, passing a big hole on the right and then pull away from the Rock wall like Sock It to Me. The right side is a rock garden, at high flow everything should be under water and might be an easier route for newer boaters. Scout it.

Coalcreek - This one used to be the biggest rapid in Deso until Joe Hatch evolved. The scout is on river right, right before the river turns right. A single scout point in the bush, so don't miss it. Coalcreek is a two channel run as well. One is on the left, which is the easiest, but the current pushes you to the right, so you just need to muscle a bit to keep in the left flow. The right current will put you into the Thunderous Hole, at high flow it will most likely be washed out, but in the lower teens it's a bit hole to punch! After you get through the Thunderous Hole just stay off the right wall and you are home free.

Wire fence - The scout is on the river right at the end of a huge eddy on the right. It's self explanatory once you see it. Just stay in the current, drop over a boulder and zig zag through some exposed rocks.

Rattlesnake - is the last rapid that could cause some havoc. The current really huge the right wall and there is some pressure pushing you against the wall. So just avoid hitting rocks/wall as you are going down it.

There are a lot more wave trains along the way, but most are 2s maybe low 3s.

Have fun, hopefully I will be launching about the same time as you ;)
 
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