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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning to float the San Juan over Labor day (early September) and am wondering if anyone has done this section, and if they have any suggestions for me. I noticed that the water could be pretty low that time of year. any thoughts on water level, camp sites, etc?

Is the water too low, boney rapids, big camping beaches?

Please let me know. Thanks!

Craig
 

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We just floated Sand Island to Clay Hills at minimal water (under 500 cfs) and I would say that the biggest consideration for low water is to schedule short days particularly after Slickhorn because the current is so slow. Rapids are bony but I think easier at low except for Government because the lines are more obvious.
 

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Pick up the "River Maps" guide for the San Juan. You'll be glad you did. You'll be fine on a 7-day permit, but push your first few days so you're not hating life below Slickhorn. Because of the sandbars, you'll be doing switchbacks across the river and a 15 mile day will actually feel like a 25 mile day. Be prepared to get stuck on rocks and bring a good patch kit.

As far as rapids, there is a debris fan just below John's Canyon that you should plan on getting stuck in - not to be pessimistic, but there just really isn't a channel through there at low water, although I got through at 480 cfs by moving sort of right of center to the center and kissing about 5 rocks on the way. Government is a little fucker at low water - scout on the left.

There are great camps all along that stretch. They are sort of sparse in the first canyon between Sand Island and Mexican Hat. Try to do the Mendenhall or Honaker hikes, and aim for a slickhorn camp if you can. Have fun!
 

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The debris fan is actually just above John's, and I agree, it's impossible to run without a couple of close encounters of the rock kind. The narrower the craft, the better your odds, but even the canoe bumped rocks. I ran far right (next to the wall) and only hit about three rocks which I think was a low for our group. Government definitely rates a scout at low water. Lots of wrap possibilities there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Any more advice from someone just off the San Juan?? Leaving next week and looking forward to a nice trip.

Is it easier to portage the rock fields? I have a 16.5 foot boat that is pretty wide.
 

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There is only the one rock field mentioned above that will be an issue and even at low water it doesn't really require a portage. Right of center is the line and use momentum to push through the bottom and you shouldn't get stuck too badly. ;)

Camp and hike at Slickhorn- it's incredible... also camp at Oljeto if you can.

At lower water, the sand bars below Grand Gulch are actually easier to see and avoid than at medium flows when they are just below the surface.
 

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Depending on the Site

River Malt,

I ran the upper stretch two weekends ago there was a fire-ban in effect so we did not have a fire. The two sites we camped/lunched at had some but not much. some of the larger sites had huge wood piles because people were foraging but not burning.

The fire ban has been lifted so you can now enjoy a nice fire in the canyon. We are doing the lower this weekend and plan on bringing some cut wood in an ammo can at least for starting a fire.

All the times I have been down in the lower there was plenty of wood available at most of the camp-sites, but the upper can be scarce due to more heavy use.

We did the lower last year over this weekend and had fires everynight, but with this year's forecasted high temps a fire may not even be desireable.

Good luck and see you on the water.

MN
 

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Plenty of drift wood to collect for fire wood?
Just got back last night (Tuesday). Some drift wood to collect. Especially on the Navajo side (if you have a Navajo pemit). Fire ban in place on BLM side. If you have a Navajo Permit there is no fire ban.

Anyone just get back from this stretch?
Ran Sand Island to Mexican Hat. Put in on Saturday and pulled out on Tuesday. One 14' raft and 4 duckies.

Flow around 750 cfs. Raft and duckies scrapped bottom once or twice.

Here is Ledge Rapid from Monday.

{youtube}http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWhU-sZstVQ{/youtube}
 

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Just called the Monticello BLM office and they stated that the ban is no longer in effect, and they are not expecting it to go into effect again this weekend (we launch on Sunday). Other info to note: BLM stated there has never been a ban in place for the Glen Canyon Rec Area portion of the float, so BLM's bans only pertain to the first half of the float.
 
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