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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone done Gates in May? I have vacation May 25-31 and will be taking young kids (assuming I get a permit). Ages 7 & 10. This will be my 3rd season as a rafter and most my experience comes from the Alpine section of the Snake (6000 cfs to 14,500 cfs) Moab Daily (34,000 cfs), and San Juan (1,300 cfs) all in a 13' NRS Otter. Will my family be cold and miserable? Do I have enough experience? Is my boat sufficient? Is it possible for my kids to walk Hells Half Mile? Any advice? Thx


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Has anyone done Gates in May? I have vacation May 25-31 and will be taking young kids (assuming I get a permit). Ages 7 & 10. This will be my 3rd season as a rafter and most my experience comes from the Alpine section of the Snake (6000 cfs to 14,500 cfs) Moab Daily (34,000 cfs), and San Juan (1,300 cfs) all in a 13' NRS Otter. Will my family be cold and miserable? Do I have enough experience? Is my boat sufficient? Is it possible for my kids to walk Hells Half Mile? Any advice? Thx

That would be Memorial day week... get a permit first and then the answers to your questions might actually matter. The odds are not in your favor if its just you and your spouse putting in. Ladore is popular and hard to draw from mid-May through the summer but especially on holiday weeks.

In my opinion, 7 years old seems too young for your boat size and experience level and 10 years old is borderline. If they're great swimmers and have wetsuits (or drysuits) and the water happens to be low, then its more of a parental judgment call, but if you're asking, then maybe you shouldn't. What I'm saying is ... your tolerance level for flipping can't be 0, cause it may happen. Assuming you handled the rivers you listed fine and have learned and worked on good techniques (face the danger, downstream & upstream ferry angles, punching holes, adjusting your line in the middle of big water, etc.) and have quick decision making skills and good river reading ability (able to react quickly to maneuver around big holes, on the fly) you'll probably be all right. If your plan was to solo it in a 13' boat with little kids... that falls under "highly not recommended, please don't do that". If it was me I'd leave the kids and go for it if I got a permit. You can bring the kids once you've experienced the river and can judge for yourself.

This past season, the river was running 850 cfs over memorial day. 2 weeks later it was running 4500 cfs. Three weeks later it was running 8200 cfs. (off the top of my head, but something like that.) Every year is different. So, depending on the decision making of federal agencies (and snowpack, to some degree), you could have really low water or really high water... I ran it at the middle stage and our group flipped two boats (1 12 foot raft and a 17 foot dory) in lower Disaster, run by people with experience level similar to yours, one of which proceeded to pin (very) badly. We had enough experienced boaters in the group that it wasn't a total disaster (no pun intended) but did result in a good deal of lost gear and a damaged and almost lost boat for the one who pinned. And a 13 year old kid was bucked out of a raft in Moonshine and took a rather long swim.

On Memorial day in Dinosaur, you might see snow flurries (I have, twice out of maybe 10 times around that time of year) or you might have 90 degree weather. Winds through island park can be crazy bad or nothing at all. Being prepared for any of the above is part of being a rafter in those parts.

Your boat is definitely sufficient, but smaller boats flip more often in big water... that's just is the way it is. If you wanted to minimize that possibility you should get a 16 footer. Those flip too but much less frequently if you take the right lines. From my experience, the ultimate non-flipper is a loaded 16 foot cataraft but the lack of a floor is less kid friendly. I'm starting my 3 year old and 1 year old in a 16 foot bucket raft this year.

Yes Hells can be walked, but its a long (half mile :) ) walk up and over and around loose rock and boulders. And as noted above, that's not the only place you can get in trouble. If the water is high, there's all sorts of places that can capsize a 13 foot boat.

IMO, Desolation Canyon would be a much better "next step" for your progression, and is easier to get a permit for, and is generally lovely that time of year since the mosquitos generally aren't as bad when the water levels are still rising.
 

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I totally agree with BenR. I ran Gates for the first time this year and I would not do it solo until I run it a few more times....especially with kids. If it's just you and your family, Deso is the place to take them. If you do get a permit for Gates.....putting together a multi family trip would be the way to go. Take at least one boater with you that's been down it before. Some of those rapids, like Disaster Falls, are very long and dangerous to swim in. I thought we were past lower Disaster when we finally came to it. That there is one long rapid.
 

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I agree with the above. I don't have kid's but I have scared the heck out of my wife twice when I made the same really bad move on Lower Disaster. I have also been pinned in Hell's with a very experienced boater (5 years as a guide). At high flows or with a bad move this can quickly be a tough river.

Flows and weather in May are unpredictable. Depends a lot on what snow pack we get in the high country and how quickly it melts in the spring. You could easily have swim suite weather or snow or both. Easier to predict closer to launch but you never know.

The Deso trip is warmer but buggier at the put-in. Bring a screen tent and head nets for the family.
 

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I'm going to tend to agree. From your "resume" so to speak, it looks like you probably haven't run much technical water in a loaded boat. The alpine canyon stretch is great stretch of water to learn on, but doesn't require any really tight moves, and you're not loaded for 4 days. Kids can walk pretty much everything, but the walks can be long, epecially if things dont go as planned through the rapid- pretty easy to not hit the close pick up below the crux of hells, and have people making a very long walk through the boulder field. Deso would be a much better next step. I took my daughter this year (as my first trip rowing the raft loaded, my wife is the oarsman in the family, I usually kayak). It is a great trip, lots of cool hikes, both short and long, rock art etc.
 

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In all my years of rafting I have never (knock on wood) had problem EXCEPT on the green through the Gates. The weather can turn on you in an instant in May and hypothermia can happen quickly. Been down it a lot (The run is my favorite), but once in triplet and once in hells 1/2 needed to get out the ropes to free the boat from being hung up on rocks. I would not do it if I were you.
This last year bears and skunks were a nuisance.
The kids would enjoy Deso a whole lot more based on my being on both stretches with kids in the past.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Anyone have trouble using the android app? I tried numerous times to thank everyone for the advice about Gates in May. My numerous replies will probably all appear at once saying the same thing. I'll try the Ipad.
Thank you all for the advice. It's not what I wanted to hear but it's what I NEEDED to hear. I should have mentioned I will be going with a group and the trip leader is an experienced class 5 rafter. But his experience won't steer my boat or keep it upright. I could however throw my kids in his 16' cat through the serious sections. I flipped last year on New Wave on the Moab Daily at 34,500 with my kids. It's a real eye opener when your 6 year old ends up in that huge eddy on the left heading back up stream to hit the rapids again and your 9 year old is heading for a strainer. So glad their Mom wasn't there. My rafting days would be over.
I'll look into Desolation like suggested and also wet suits for the kids. Sounds like I might have been trying to bite off more than I can chew with this trip.


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I heard a rule of thumb (here on the Buzz) that I think is a good one especially when rapids are a factor. There should be an adult for each kid on the boat and the rower does not count.


Jim
 

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Apply for your permit, if you win one make it a multi boat trip. The more boats, especialy with experianced boaters the safer it will be. Walking Lodore rapids will make for long walks where there is more chance of foot or ankle injury. With more folks and bigger boats you can make the judgment call on weather you would feel safe with the young ones in a larger boat with someone who might have more experiance with the technical aspects of the Gates of Lodore or you may decide that the conditions are just right for you to take the challenge your self. Always nice to have options.
Lodore is a great family trip that is as my brother put it...." a trip everyone, if given the oppurtunity should definately run at least once in thier life".
Be safe out there...
 

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My daughters, now 9 and 11, have been on about 8 week long trips over the last 5 years. They really like rafting. My younger daughter said to me a few years back, 'if you ever flip the boat I will never come on another trip.' I have used that as a guide. I have flipped on a couple Grand trips and only take my kids on trips I am pretty comfortable with. I took them on a Lodore trip last June 1. I felt very confident on every rapid, but my older daughter was nervous on one of them, although she pushed through the stress.

If you flipped with your kids you would have to accept the fact that you would not be able to necessarily help/save/assist them. Are you ready for that? Are they ready for that? How about your spouse?

Your experience seems on the thin side to do it with the kids, although it would be a great push for your resume. Just my opinion.
 

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It's LODORE! Or the canyon of lodore! Why does every newbie,greendick front range rafter insist on calling it "gates." Gates of lodore is referring to the rock walls at the entrance to the canyon of lodore.
 

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If we're going to be geographically outraged, its LODORE CANYON ECHO PARK WHIRLPOOL CANYON ISLAND PARK SPLIT MOUNTAIN CANYON. Make sure you don't just name one geographical feature of the run cause its so offensive to me
 

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It's LODORE! Or the canyon of lodore! Why does every newbie,greendick front range rafter insist on calling it "gates." Gates of lodore is referring to the rock walls at the entrance to the canyon of lodore.
If you are referring to me, this newbie with a green dick from the front range rafter, ran the "Gates" for the first time 24 years before you held a paddle.
 

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I have taken kids as young as a year and a half down Lodore in July and August in a 16 footer. At that level it is great. Hells half mile will get you pretty focused. Walked Triplet, and Hells half mile with the kids. My only scares rowing the family down occurred in Split Mountain at High flows. A thirteen foot raft would be pretty eye opening in Split mountain at peak flow.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It takes a good man to not take offense when one was not intended. It takes a great man to not take offense when one was.

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