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This week the Salt is forecast to come spike as high as 10,000, and we are scheduled to launch a Wilderness trip at the peak of the spike. I've been on the Salt as high as 5,500 and it was big and pushy, but many of the rapids - at least in the upper 7 miles - were washed out. At these higher flows, what is to be expected? Do any of the rapids get significantly higher at flows above 5,000? If so, please tell me which ones we need to be more mindful of. Thanks!
 

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You might lay up before the gorge and wait for the water to drop out. Ive run the gorge at 6k, similar to you and it was great. I would call it just starting to get pushy but straight forward. It was my first run, we didn't scout anything and I was never worried about it. If you thought 5500 was real pushy and had your hands full......

I thought 6k was about the perfect level. I do think 10k would be a different animal in there. If nothing else a swim could get bad. I don't know that I would be fully scared of 10K, I'd have my A game on and want a solid crew for sure. 20k, Id be scared and likely have my tail between my legs in camp, assuming I knew it had come up to 20.


At 6k, water was well in the reeds and bank full but it didn't feel like flood. Channels were still defined. If shit started feeling like flood, all the rocks were gone, shit was washing, channels were connected, eddies were blowing out the back and boils were getting big up top, I'd be looking for a camp to ride out the storm before dropping in the gorge and beyond. I gotta imagine 10k is kind of the start of that, though that is speculation.

The prediction could be way off. Could only hit 6 (the last spike was supposed to be 10 and it only hit 6) or could hit 20+. That river is a nasty mistress, never know who she is going to be, except for beautiful. Good thing about it is if you need to pull over and hang for a couple days you can get out pretty quick even in the 5k range. Make sure to put a stick at waters edge when you pull over and keep tabs. If shit starts feeling super pushy, find a camp and wait for it to drop out.
 
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10k is good 25k is a bit much.
 

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Most of the rapids are washed out at 10k. 6k is more difficult. There are some strange boils and eddy lines at 10k.
 

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zbaird is pretty spot on and yes the salt forecast is based on weather forecast so it is a prediction based on a prediction.
 

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I have been told that ledges gets real big but you can gut it if you are on your A game. Supposedily corkscrew is huge as well. Mr Ranger says its all fun and games to 7k then it gets serious.
 

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The crew you are with is absolutely critical in high flows anywhere. You are putting your life in they’re hands and vice versa. Not something to taken lightly.
 

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Wow, so nice to have Quartzite blasted otherwise this is a totally different conversation and recommendation.

It took us always half a day to disassemble, portage and half-ass reassemble multiple rafts around Quartzite and this was after ripping off fingernails inching down the left wall hoping to catch and keep a micro-eddy. You'd completed the reassembly out there on that huge gravel bar before proceeding, if it was there. Otherwise, as Little Big Man told General Custer "Mr Custer, you go there and you gonna die!".
 

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I have been told that ledges gets real big but you can gut it if you are on your A game. Supposedily corkscrew is huge as well. Mr Ranger says its all fun and games to 7k then it gets serious.
Highest I've ran it was ~3500cfs.... and Ledges was 2 huge holes that went 3/4 the way across the river and a few smaller ones bellow. I think you could hit either one without consequence but the one two punch might be iffy. Luckily there was plenty of room to go to the right of them. Not sure if they start to wash out as they get higher...but I could see them getting bigger.

Other then that...Grumman actually caused the most problems on that trip. I swam (and self rescued), another guy flipped, and a private day trip with like 6 people on an oar raft flipped just ahead of us. One guy on the private trip enhaled a bunch of water and was looking pretty rough. Chased both boats for a mile or two before getting them to shore. You kind of have to thread the needle between two holes at the top...one on the the right followed by one on the left which is what flipped both rafts. Definitely possible to get a bunch of speed up and punch the left hole...but no one did that this trip.

There is definitely more room to move at higher water. Just did two trips back to back at lower water and you definitely have to pick your lines better through a bunch of the rapids. Quartzite was the only one that forced you to go a different direction then typical (right instead of the left line you take at higher water).

Having done the low water runs...I kinda want to go down and do it again this weekend with some high flows. Bring the right gear and go with the right people.
 

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Last year, we were on when the Chrysotile gage went to 15k and the Roosevelt gage went to 35k during 4 days of heavy rain. Pretty epic. Lots of rapids were mostly washed out in the upper stretch, but eddies were very hard to catch and many camps were flooded. We put on before the flood peaked and had a layover at mile 14.5 above Gleason flats.

The flows gain a quite a bit in 50 miles (15 to 35k cfs), so it was still pretty big when we got back on the water, probably 13k+. Eye of the Needle and Black Rock were easier than usual. The Maze was big. We were just able to eddy out at Blackjack just above Quartzite and were plenty thankful for that.

The next day, we went on a long hike and dropped down to look at Quartzite and Corkscrew from above at probably 15k+. Both rapids were river-wide and terrifying. the scout rocks on river left at Black rock were a huge hole. So glad we didn't miss that camp. Had another layover and then all was good running it.

I've been on the Salt at lots of levels, the highest before this was 9k. That was sporty for sure, but I wouldn't want to run the gorge at much above that. If you flip or swim, it's a very long ride in fast swirly water. If the flows are high, camp and wait it out. It's only 50 miles, you can get out pretty quick if you need to when the flows go down.

+1 on the Quartzite blasphemy comment. It was hard work to deal with, but if you weren't up to it, you could always just stay home and watch it on TV...
 

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Since I've already stepped in it, I might as well put on the barnyard mudders and offer for consideration "blast"phemy; for pro/con consideration.

It ripped my heart out when Quartzite was "blasted". I'd run that river twice as such respected the challenge. Also, I have the highest respect for nature and our environment, well, except perhaps for over-populations of yellow-jackets caused by human error(feeding the wildlife).

However, I was never going back having run it twice. I'd learned that it was no place to determine if you had an "A+" team with you. If you had an "A-" team you might be dealing with the death of a friend and on my second trip I thought it got too close.

Quartzite Falls was a death trap. Unless you were there to see it, you might doubt my words. Fine.

This is the discussion, in twenty years of hind sight almost no one participating in MB discussions today of how high or how low concerning the Salt would consider it. Actually, it is likely that the deaths would have shut down the Salt (almost?) totally. That is where it was at then.

Enjoy the Salt now, otherwise, you likely would have never gone there. Just saying.
 

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As far as I'm concerned, it made all our lives better to have a river trip that was possible except that "there might be dragons" because of Quartzite Falls on the Salt. Not that dragons can't rear their heads anywhere, but in a world that has tamed so much, it was humbling to have to deal with an 'unrunnable' rapid. Trips had to stop above the 'Danger Falls' graffiti and scout to see if there was room in the eddy before they rounded the corner above Quartzite. If there was room you had to be on your game to make the eddy and to decide if lining or portaging was the rational option. It was real life. Right Now. Every time. If you weren't up to that, the San Juan was really nice in the early season. Or, you could spend your free time watching TV...

Lining or portaging bonded people in a shared extreme adventure. It's hard to express how powerful this experience was for me on every trip I made before those cowards ruined it.

Did it suck? Of course it did but lots of things suck -- like paying taxes or working overtime. But nobody is going to remember those issues. Life happens when you really live it.

It's easier now, but I really don't think that it's better. Just saying...
 

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Launched on 3/11 at 1150 cfs at Chrysotile, took off on the 15th, and flows came up to 15,000 at Chrysotile and 20,000 cfs at Roosevelt while we were on the river. We figured we ran Quartzite and Corkscrew at 8-12,000.


Camps are hard to get to because channels are separated by tamarisk and shrubbery. Quartzite cant be scouted so its a blind approach and humongous. The island below is under water, the eddy is full of wood and bamboo, making strokes difficult, and Corkscrew wants to push you into the left wall at the bottom.


The gorge above Quartzite was big wave trains but mostly washed out. Black Rocks was big but manageable. I don't remember anything else......Definitely bring your A game and an A crew. A flip or swim will put everyone at risk. Bring extra rope and tie off your boats with multiple lines. One boat ghost boated past us in camp empty and the owner hadn't found it by the takeout.


Bring water. The river was an ovaltine mess and the side creeks like Canyon Cr. Chalk Cr and Cherry Cr were flowing 1000 cfs and difficult to get to. The takeout ramp has a foot of fine slimy mud most of the way up the ramp.


Jocelyn
 

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Put in on the 14th. Not sure the flows yet. It was glorious river rafting with little beer consumption. I couldn’t take my hands off the oars long enough to enjoy a cold one! I’m thinking a beer helmet would be a good idea. The salt kicks ass!
 

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I love that place. I'd love to know what was in bloom. The suguaro? So much there to appreciate and realize that you not in, well, where ever you are from this time of year.

Looks like the season will extend into the second week of April. Rare these days. As Yoda would say "Such a shame pandemics are.".
 
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