IV-. A little more maneuvering around rocks than at higher water but a lot less pushy. Nothin' that would really give you any trouble, especially if you've run it before. It's basically read and run if you know that you want to work left on 4-4.5, run 5 pretty far right and on 6 you work left up top and then right on the bottom. Good clean fun. I've found the rapids become noticeably more fun once it hits 600 but it's still good at 550.
I ran the numbers the first time a couple of weeks ago at about 700cfs. It was awesome! I mostly run Bridges, Lower Mish, and Poudre Park (minus Pine View at high water) and this was definitely a step up. There is quite a bit of maneuvering (read rock dodging) to do and being able to read and run is important. I agree, be sure to be left in #4, and take a look at #5 so you don't hit the rock at the bottom of the initial drop (like I did). Have fun!
You run 5 far right? and then what, work your way left quickly? its not class III at any level so dont buy that. everything is pretty easy to scout if you are unsure but this is a good level for your first time.
I notice people doing this macho underrating thing lately. The numbers is easy 3/3+? Come on. It may feel easy to those who have run it a lot of times or who typically do class 5, but I think it is very misleading to say it is easy 3/3+.
At this level I'd agree with the III+ rating. Of course it's very subjective and you might argue a couple sections are IV-, but certainly not a solid IV. Anyway, a solid class III boater ought to be just fine in there. It's still a fun level with some play here and there.
This seems to be a re-occuring debate on the buzz.
look at the definitions (cut and pasted from AW)
Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated Class III- or Class III+ respectively.
Class IV:Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require must moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated Class IV- or Class IV+ respectively.
I have my opinion of what the numbers are at 550 cfs, you can make your own up.
Do the terms intense and powerfull come to mind with the #'s at 550cfs?
Is it hard to self rescue in the #'s at 550 CFS?
Must make moves? (not just moves, but MUST make moves)?
Keep in mind that it is a whole different ball of wax in the Nummies at levels above 1800ish.
I would say that the numbers at lower water has some aspects of both descriptions. Whether it is class 3+ or 4- is probably debatable, although I would think when it is debatable it is smarter to give it the higher rating, since that way you know that no one is going to be misled. Ratings are most important for people who haven't done the run before, not for those that have.
What I really have trouble with is calling the numbers "easy" class 3 at 550 cfs. Browns at lower water is generally "easy" class 3, but I don't think the numbers is, especially for someone who hasn't run it before.
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