The Gorge is good at 400 (it was at 414 as of Wednesday morning.)
I've run it as low as 325 -- at that point, the Sledgehammer/Boat Eater area are very very very tight -- we were sort of pinballing off the boulders, bracing off rocks with knuckles and elbows. -- But that was taking the tight left line to avoid the normally scary holes in that section (Clark's Hole and whatever the other one is.)
Maybe when it's real low, you're better off braving those holes than the boulders river left -- That's NOT advice, just a thought.
I would call that section a very solid class 4 for technicality when it's below 350 cfs.
Sunshine hole is very very sticky anywhere from 325 to up over 700. Run all the way tight river right down the drop to avoid the hole, catch the eddy beside the hole, and peel out below it.
I don't think you can paddle out of that hole once it catches you, unless you're stronger than anybody I've ever boated with or unless the flow is high enough that the hole washes out a little and gets less sticky -- and swimming out is difficult, too.
All in all, as long as it's over 350, I love the Gorge. Solid class 4 run. But not too much play.
As for comparison, even when it gets technical at these low flows, it's not real continuous -- not nearly as "busy" of a run as the Numbers, and I think not as difficult as the Numbers.
Can't compare it to a whole lot around here, cause I've been in Colorado less than a year.
Anyway, yeah - go run it if you're a class 4 boater. I'd offer to go with, but my boat is out of commission until next week.
My opinion is slightly different than Mike's. The second river I ever ran was the gorge at low water. I don't feel it is a IV in difficulty at this level, though it can be dangerous with the additional re-bar showing as well as the remoteness. The run is more technical, but also much, much slower. You have plenty of eddies, and plenty of time to catch them. The holes are virtually non-existent, with the exception of sunshine. If you hit sunshine with good speed, it is easily boofed. I would call the run a class III in difficulty, but keep in mind that a swim could be nasty if you catch any re-bar. The pool drop nature of the rapids make it easy to boat scout most of the rapids, but also make it real easy to scout along the railroad tracks if you prefer. It is a fun low water run, but prepare for a long, slow, rock scraping paddle out though.
I agree with Mike. This run does have alot of Class III drops, but Sunshine, Sledgehammer, Boat eater do have consequences if you don't hit them "right". So, I would say those drops are more Class IV than Class III. I saw a guy swim his @$$ off, with very little progress, to get out of Sunshine. Word to the wise at this flow, do not languish your boof.
If you want to boat the gorge on Sunday, I'll be there. I'm looking for someone to boat it with. I've done it before but its been a while and never below 1200, so I'll be boat scouting quite a bit.
For October runs, take all your best cold weather gear, even if it's sunny and warm at the put-in.
nothing is pushy, at all. a few technicle IV- spots.
Primero will be shallow, stay upright, I broke a paddle on those rocks a few years back. The right side of Pumphouse is boney and not much fun to bounce of big rocks. The top of sunshine is a center to right s-turn. teh higher water left is a rock wall, no water, and then Sunshine's hole near the bottom (right) will be sticky, stay hard-hard right, like an inch or two off the right rock; popping into and out of the right side eddy is a good idea, but at these low levels, you may have to back out unless you have a short boat less than 7 feet or so. The rest of sunshine is easy if you're comfortable with running stuff backward. (you have been practicing for those "just in case" times, right?) keep your bow up on the drops in SLedgehammer. Clarks hole is a smooth rock with a tad bit of water pouring over. You can go into it and look around. The drop just above the hole is fun to drop into, multiple choices. narrows has a couple "boof" rocks, no bad holes. Wallslammer isn't bad. The hole at the top of the wall is quit punchable. You can even run it a couple feet off the wall if you like. If you stay 8 feet from the wall, it may feel like class II. Boat eaater, what boat eater. It's a 8 foot high rock, that offers a narrow chute on it's left, most go right. The rocks that cause the waves above where the hole would be are now all exposed and it has a creeky feel to it, actually if you start right, it has the feel of one of the first sledge hammer drops. The flat water is long. take out at tunnel drove to cut about 30 minutes (at this level) of flat water.
gee---it's 5:00am. I'm going to bed. laters, and enjoy.
I may be able to run it with you on 2 OCT, depending on work.
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