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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Soliciting feedback on the following plan/brainstorm respective to the year's snowpack, timing of flows, etc. For 2-3 class IV/V boaters, comfortable on Callaghan in BC but not the Ashlu Box. Specifically, I am wondering if May is too early for Durango and CB creeks, and if there are enough for us that are IV/V and not V+. Also, I see that Taos Box and Black Canyon are dam release; do they match runoff somewhat, or just level all summer? Is the snowpack looking decent enough to be worth a long drive? Cheers,

Scott

In general snowpack is <20% normal in the coastal states (WA, OR, CA), 50-80% in the intermountain states (ID, UT), and 80-100% in the rockies (MT, WY, CO, NM). AZ is really low as has been for the past few years, and NV has not yet produced a river capable of leaving the state.

A potential plan could be to leave Vancouver at the end of April, maybe stop in White Salmon, then hopefully hit a hard-to-catch desert float such as the Jarbridge, Zion (or Illinois on rain). After hitting Red Rocks and/or Flagstaff, continue on to Taos, and begin working north along the Rockies chasing flows: Embudo, Taos Box, Durango, Crested Butte, Black Canyon, Arkansas. At some point in mid-May, hopefully the magic Escalante flow will happen (it's an exception at 97% snowpack - but this is still 97% of not much). This would be a one week scrappy float with awesome side hiking and canyoneering. Alternatives include Dirty Devil, Muddy Creek, San Juan. Could climb in Moab during this time if not interested, or if nothing comes in. Then, after a stop in Dinosaur country, and depending on how Idaho flows look, either head there to catch SF Salmon, Lochsa etc, or head back to BC for Ashnola-fest. I probably have to start a new job late May or early June.

In summary, counter-clockwise loop around western USA for month of May. Quick drive down to NM, hopefully nailing an early desert float somewhere or Oregon stuff on the way. Work back north up Rockies from Taos to Idaho following a potentially early/moderate melt. Back in BC end of May. I have found 50+ quality days of paddling, excluding laps, mostly in the Southern Rockies guidebook (see attached sheet). Vancouver to Taos is 2,500km; say 8,000 km return including side trips. Estimate $1000 in fuel in Tacoma and 8 dedicated driving/rest days, leaving 23+ paddling/shuttle days.

I'm open to feedback and other ideas as well... non-coastal parts of BC have 100% snowpack... I am planning to hit those in the summer, including hopefully a Chilko multiday in late July/early August.
 

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That's quite a detailed plan. I like the ambition. Colorado flows are normally peaking in late May & early June. If you're back in Canada by the end of may you're going to miss our season. Your plans are good by likely 3-5 weeks premature.

The creeks in crested butte will be prime in the first 2-3 weeks of June - not may. I'm in CB this week and the snowpack is very light so there is a possibility it will run but earlier but not in may.

The Arkansas itself is guaranteed to be here but lake creek of the ark will be terrifying that time. Clear creek of the ark won't be in until 1st week of June.

The black canyon is usually is a shoulder season run because the flows get too big in the summer.

No time spent in Durango personally so I can't speak to it. From what I do know is their creeks are very difficult and not a lot of locals are eager to take unfamiliar faces into a slot canyon with no knowledge of their skills.

The overall snow pack is not good for Colorado in general. Yes there will be plenty water but its going to be potentially a shorter season. Don't be deterred by my message - colorado boating is going to be good this year if you make the best of it!! Safe travels and enjoy !!!


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Also - the embudo will not run this year. I promise.

You'd be lucky to boat the Taos box (either of them) in may. When the rio grande water right holders call for water the river shrivels very quickly.


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What I'm saying is there won't be a chance embudo will be in around may.

Thx 4schizzle my pizzle


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The Upper Taos Box will likely be done once they turn on the irrigation diversions. The Embudo may be going the first half of May. I just got back from there and they actually have a lot of snow.

Durango will be good for May. Upper Animas/3rd Gorge Lime will be runnable. 1st gorge lime maybe by late May depending on how fast it melts out. Vallecito may be in if you get a stretch of cooler days (might be too high otherwise).

The Black Canyon may be in. It all depends on how much water the Bureau of Reclamation decides to release, and no, they do not care about kayaking.

CB creeks may be melted out by the last week or 2 of May. Depends on how much postholing through snow you are willing to do.

Other possibilities that come to mind are Gilman Gorge and Gore.

Keep in mind that Colorado ratings are pretty soft, so runs that the Guidebook calls Class V may be more like BC Class IV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the info.

We are in Leavenworth, planning to head to Idaho for this week, maybe Durango this weekend, then NM next week, then hopefully central Colorado 8-12ish or WW /cross if stuff is not in yet. Shoot me a message or text if you want to boat. Cheers

Scott 6 zero 4 992-1606
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Finally made it to Colorado (OK Moab). Thinking of the Embudo tomorrow, NM until Friday, Durango or BV this weekend and front range and/or Gore next week? Plan is very fluid, does anyone want to paddle?

Have mostly been paddling in Idaho so far: Lochsa, SF Clearwater, MF Salmon, Greys River. Chickened out on Cross Mtn at 5500, how is it at that level without a guide?
 

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Front range is in the middle of a storm cycle right now that is putting a lot of water in the creeks. Bear, a pretty rare gem, is stomping at the moment, and other creeks are coming into good flows as well.

I wouldn't drive for the Embudo at 130 cfs. But it's on its way up, so who knows (actually, Atom probably knows).

Gore at 2k is getting to be big water; Brian, the Mayor of Gore, claims its most difficult in the high teens, since the rocks are still creating holes and nothing is washed out yet. Swims aren't fun.

If you come to the front range during this storm cycle (and that may be the time to do it, frankly), then keep a close eye on the gauges. Bear, for example, is much different at 250 than it is at, say, 500.

Not sure what's going on with the Durango area creeks; someone else will have to chime in with that info.
 

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Try Westwater tomorrow!

Not technically difficult but a classic. There are permits available for tomorrow and Thursday. Call the BLM at (435) 259-7012 to claim one.
 

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My two cents...

Embudo is really low. Probably not worth the drive now at those flows. I would hold off on NM and wait for flows to come up. If they don't come up, don't bother.

If I were you, I would head over to the front range and look for bear creek, clear creek blackrock section and cache la poudre narrows. All are running now, and we are getting pounded with rain today. Hard to know exactly what that will do to the creeks as we are typically a snow melt runoff driven flow spot, but I suspect flows will be higher.

Durango is a tough place for a IV/V paddler. Animas is low and the creeks like vallecito are solid class V that are better with a guide to the problematic scouting.

BV is a fun place to be when the water is up, but its low now. I would skip BV until flows come up.

So... my take... head to the front range to take advantage of the rain. Get the goods that are in for sure right now. Keep an eye on flows and go further if the flows materialize.

Also, gore is a great run. Its at a pretty juicy level right now, but you can portage a couple of big drops and still have a good day in there.
 

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Durango

Piedra is low but runnable
Vallecito is low but runnable (and clean)
Bakers is at the teeth level
Rockwood is always runnable
Lime is not running

Unfortunately cold temps will probably drop flows further in the next couple days. I would wait for a couple days of warmer weather before heading this way.
 
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