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So I've been saying for years that someday I will float the entire 100 miles of the normally boated length of the Ark.

I don't normally boat solo, but I needed some time to be alone and think, and the peak flows combined with the equinox seemed like as good an excuse as any. So I bailed on Work friday and headed to Canon City. I met my friend and Gorge local, Brian Ledoux for a run through the gorge at its peak, which I think was 4350. I've done the Gorge with him a few times and he knows it well, so I was a little surprised and just a bit nervous when he showed up with his creek boat. He said he thought it would change his roll count from 3-4, down to 0 or 1. I cockily said I didn't expect to roll in the play boat either.

Don't tempt the river gods: Me=3 rolls, Brian=0, Tom unfortunately cannot roll his dory, but that is another story.

After following the Dory all the way from boat-eater into town, we pick up the pieces and the fun of hitchhiking to Granite begins, behind schedule at 4:30. I sent my 4 fun home with Tom and loaded up the Super Hero.

This was the hardest leg of the trip. Hitchhiking with a loaded Super Hero was more challenging than I had anticipated. I didn't make it to Granite until after eight PM. I quickly suited up, floated a mile or two and made camp just before dark.

Saturday morning was relaxed, with a 9 am launch. While both looked runnable, I had already chosen the safer option of Carrying the loaded Jackson Sure Hero around both the dam and Pine Creek Rapid.

The three sisters were beefy. I got a huge stern squirt in the second one and felt fortunate to remain upright.

9:45 pass the #s put in with not a car in the lot. I try my first rolls in the loaded boat and am surprised by how manageable they are.

#1 looked big and I snuck most of it, not yet fully confident in the loaded super hero.

I felt lame for sneaking and started to run the meat from #2 on. #4 was probably the biggest single hit on the river.

#5 was all but completely washed out. Some holes in the runout necessitate my first combat roll, which provides unexpected relief.

10:30 Pass the RR bridge. First sign of boaters, thinking about boating. New stretch of river for me starting here.

I didn't see a single boat until my water stop at the BV ramp. 3 private oar rigs launch just ahead of me, but i pass them right after the Silver Bullet, which I had never run before. It is a dam that is a fast ramp to a big hit at the bottom.

I pass lots of commercials as I enter Browns just after noon, but most are having a lunch stop so the river is not choked with rubber.

I run zoom and take 25 minutes for lunch, thinking I will enjoy some carnage from the photo rocks. Very disappointing. One guide got ejected out of 20+ boats that came through.

I continue on through to Siedel’s, which I've only run once. Thinking the line is right of center, I plug into the hole and get a violent back-ender, but flush right out and roll up to big cheers from all the commercial peeps scouting or portaging.

Pretty uneventful from there down through Salida and beyond. With the notable exception of a big dam, which must be run to the far left. Plan on drowning if you miss this left hand chute.

Made Salida just before 4 pm and stopped for snacks and went into cks to refill water and seek beta for possible camps.

I pushed on ‘til 7:30 so I wouldn’t have too many miles to paddle before the Gorge Sunday.

Cottonwood was one of the biggest wave trains on the entire river. Several other big waves kept the boredom mostly at bay through the flats.

I camped in a small field just before Cotopaxi. 70 Mile Day; 10 hours of paddling, not counting a few short breaks. Personal record for me, by at least 25-30 miles.

Got back on the river at 8 am Sunday and stopped in at Arkansas River Tours, to use the dumpster and say hi to guide Skip, who had helped with one leg of my hitchhiking shuttle. Thanks again Skip.

A few big waves later, I passed pinnacle rock around 10 am, just ahead of the commercial launches.

Three Rocks was probably the scariest looking hole on the river. I snuck it far left, with no issues.

Spikebuck had me sneaking right around a nasty hole, again hugging the side for safety.

More great waves lead to the flat water above the gorge, my final challenge.

Just before floating past Parkdale, I saw my friend Brian flagging me down to run the gorge again. I happily left my overnight gear in his car and ran the gorge in an empty Super hero, with Brian in tow. I thought the boat performed well loaded; it was a dream to paddle empty. I can’t say enough good things about this boat. It was super comfy to spend a 10 hour day in and performed really well in all it encountered. I am not surprised to hear it has just become their best seller.

The Gorge was big but very manageable. It only took an hour to run.

This trip is not for everybody. I certainly won’t do it again any time soon, but it really felt like an accomplishment, and gave me a nice bit of solitude. Except for Browns and a few other random rafts, I had the whole Ark to myself.
 

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Hell yeah. That sounds awesome. Someday I wanna do the same thing and float from my house in Summit to Mexico (yeah, there might be a couple stealth stretches).
 

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a few weeks ago a guide and kayaker who goes by the name Tuna did a solo mission from granite to canon city in his h2. took him about 12 hours.
 

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Hey Dave--

nice to have seen you in Browns on your way...very cool trip!! I was hoping you'd post a trip report--glad to hear your mission was a success!
 

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a few weeks ago a guide and kayaker who goes by the name Tuna did a solo mission from granite to canon city in his h2. took him about 12 hours.
Anyone dumb enough to own a Hummer should be driving it that slow for everyone else's safety. Must have gotten lost.
-d
 

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Awesome accomplishment Dave. I thought I had brass ones for running Browns solo last year, LOL. I R teh suq it turns out :)
 

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Yo Dave,

Sounds like a great trip, I did a smaller scale solo run Pine Creek thru Brown's a few years back at peak in my Release. I was going thru some big life changes and it helped out.
Hope it all levels.

Steve.
 

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Nice trip. I myself have been toying with this idea for several years.... I was thinking of a 1-day high water run, but the multi-day seems way more relaxed. Thanks for posting the reoprt. Congrats!
 

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Cool trip Dave! I hit royal gorge sat at high water and had a blast. Afterwards I was dreaming about checking out all the sections of the Ark at high water, wondering what fun big waves were lurking in those section. Your trip sounds like a really fun one to do and a cool accomplishment.

The story would make a great article for the american whitewater journal.
 

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Scott, as far as what I took, I am way more used to raft and car camping than self support or backpack style camping, so packing light is a challenge for me.

My sleeping pad and bag went in their own small dry bags up front, along with a liter or two of water. I’d like to get more up there to even out the load a bit, but only very small items can squeeze past the foot brace.

In the stern I use 2 stow floats stuffed pretty full: One side was light clothing layers and a nylon tarp, that I used as a ground cloth, but could have rigged between some trees with a rope and stakes if it had rained.
the other side was food and a jet boil stove. I brought an aluminum pan to use a small fire pan, as well as 2 wag bags.

Ian, I hadn't thought about submitting it elsewhere, but maybe i will. Then I'd have to use all correct verb tenses and stuff. Not sure I am up to the challenge
 

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Thanks for outing me

Dave thanks for outing me. For those who are rafting the Ark at 4K+ I strongly suggest that you 1) surround yourself with strong paddlers and rowers. 2) always take a sneak line as swims are the full on experience and recovery is exceptionally difficult. I flipped my dory in the wave train to Boat Eater was able to rescue myself and was very motivated to get out of the water. Once on shore I watched my upside down fly past me, both Dave and Brian were not far behind racing after pieces. I did not want to loose my gear so I made my pursuit running down the railroad tracks and I was unable to keep pace the dory. Approximately 2 miles later and with the assistance from Josh we finally were able to catch my boat. This experience definitely renewed my respect for the force and power of the river. Doing a solo high water trip is certainly an accomplishment and exemplifies Dave's skill and knowledge of the river.
 
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