TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

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yuccahead
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TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by yuccahead » Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:58 pm

We hadn't planned to take a rafting trip this year but this one just sort of fell into our laps and we, my wife & I, did some scrambling to get time off and make it happen. A 4 day trip down the Colorado River through Canyonlands NP and the whitewater of Cataract Canyon ending on a lake named Powell.
Last Tues. we set out under hot, sunny skies to motor down about 50 miles of flat water before we would hit the rapids 2 days later. Along the way we were treated to the usual fantastic scenery, a few hikes and other assorted natural phenomenon.
Getting lazily comfortable under the shade umbrella
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Rounding the big horseshoe bend with Dead Horse Point on the upper right of the big mesa
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Stopping for a hike across from Lathrop Canyon
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An Anasazi granary
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Pictographs near the granary
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Ancient hand prints
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More pictographs in the same area
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Back on the river, we floated past another granary about 1/2 way up this tower where the rock divides. It's on the far left.
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We made about 30 miles the first day and camped on the high ground just above Indian Creek, a large wash that drains the Abajo Mtns. to the south. The guides told us about more ruins and a great waterfall up the canyon, but since the creek was bone dry the falls wouldn't be running and we were just going to do a short hike to the ruins. That evening it rained a bit and off and on through the night. No one thought much about it.

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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by Vulture » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:16 am

Looks like the start of another neat adventure.

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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by yuccahead » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:16 am

Day 2
Earplugs are a great thing. With 23 people on this trip sleeping in tents not 20-30 ft from each other there is bound to be some big time snoring. The earplugs worked great to block the snoring but they also blocked out the sound of something I've been hoping to hear for years - the thunderous sound of a flash flood as it tears it's way down a wash. Indian Creek flashed that night and I didn't hear a thing. Our guides, on the other hand, were sleeping on the sand bar about 70 ft or so from the mouth of the wash and heard it all quite clearly. I was up about 6am and the river had turned to red and it would stay that way for the rest of the trip until we were well onto Lake Powell.

Looking up Indian Creek from the river.
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Looking at the outflow of the creek into the river
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We decided to hike to the falls since the creek was now in full flow and passed some more granary ruins on the way
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Looking up at the falls
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Back on the now red, silty, debris filled river, we pass by more ruins at Monument Creek
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Some of us hiked over the saddle while the rafts went around a giant loop in the river and picked us up on the other side
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Ater a couple miles of a drenching downpour we made it to the confluence with the Green River and on down to Spanish Bottom and a view to the Doll's House high above.
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We camped just above the first rapid at the beginning of Cataract Canyon
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On day 3 we'll run 30 rapids ranging from Class II to big and technical Class IV.

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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by LDMGOLD » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:44 pm

Yuccahead:

Sure enjoying your photos of the raft trip. So is my wife. You might call her a veteran of Colorado River running. She has been down through the Grand Canyon three times. She now wants to do the trip you are posting.

It keeps her busy.

Thanks for the great photos.

Tom K.

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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by yuccahead » Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:20 am

Thanks Vulture and LDMGOLD glad you're enjoying it, and your wife also Tom, I've seen some of her photos, there's nothing like the Colorado River.

Day 3
Up until now the river has been flowing and descending at about the rate of 1 ft per mile. After the confluence with the Green River it nearly doubles it's flow and begins dropping at an avg rate of 10 ft per mile. The canyon colors become more gray, buff and brown rather than the red rock of the canyons upriver. We're going to run about 30 rapids in the next 15 miles, some with names like Brown Betty, Mile Long, Ben Hurt, The Red Wall and, near the end, the 3 Big Drops where the river descends 30 ft in about a 1/4 mile.
Today we separate the 4 rafts. They've been strapped together to the big, motorized S-rig to get us all down here with lots of room for moving about, sitting around, etc. Besides the big safety boat we've got 2 18' oar boats and a smaller paddle boat. Another group of 3 oarboats from the same outfitter meet us in the morning and we all run the rapids together for safety and any emergencies.
The morning looks and feels great as we wake up to the sun hitting the tops of the canyon wall across the river.
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Looking out at the river this morning it's obvious there were more flash floods upriver through the night. There is so much stuff floating by, trees, brush, limbs, trunks, logs, etc. the river looks like a giant conveyor belt transporting all of this stuff right down the rapids. Our boatmen are just a little concerned about some of these big limbs getting hung up on the rocks and in the path of the rafts.
This is a little hard to make out but that tree limb is as long as one of our rafts.
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The younger people head for the paddle boat while the folks about my age are glad to let them have it. We, instead, get into an oar boat and let Haley, our oarswoman, do all the work.
At low water the rapids here have many exposed rocks and become more technical for the guides but in the smaller rafts it's a great ride.
Haley setting us up for Brown Betty Rapid
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Another
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And another
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Looking back at the paddle boat. Several people fell out or were ejected from this thing.
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Here comes another
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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by yuccahead » Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:43 am

Day 3 continued
Here's good shot of the safety boat making sure everyone gets through each rapid. The Trip Leader, with nearly two decades of experience on this river, ran this raft.
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A look back at the other rafts on a short flatwater section.
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A good shot of Haley powering us downriver
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We stopped for lunch just before the Big Drops. My wife was having a ball
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Big Drop 1 was not too bad but we stopped for the guides to scout Big Drop 2. This is where the paddle boat lost 3 or 4 people and we helped get them into rafts before they ran Big Drop 3 without a raft. We stopped again to scout Big Drop 3.

Here the rafts are gathered while the guides scout the rapid. Big Drop 2 is in the background.
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A look at Big Drop 3 from the scouting position
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Everyone made it through the Big Drops without carnage or injury. Due to the low water on Lake Powell we had a few bonus rapids to run and soon were floating on the placid waters of the lake, even though we were still in a narrow canyon that looked like a river. After a few miles we camped at Gypsum Canyon and got another rain storm that evening but were eventually treated to a rainbow just befor the sun went down.

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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by yuccahead » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:16 am

Day 4
Last day on the water and we've got to motor down the narrow canyon of Lake Powell for about 28 miles to the takeout at Hite. The rafts are strapped together again and we set off early today, coffee call at 5:30 am and we're on the lake by 7:30 in order for some of the passengers to make their flight back to Moab.
Along the way we pass more wonderful scenery and a couple of arches. The highest arch is called Piano Leg Arch and the name of the lower one has slipped my mind.
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The red, silty water is with us for about 20 miles on the lake and almost in an instant near Mille Crag Bend it turns back to a clean green and we see 3 desert bighorn rams on shore.
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Soon the Highway 95 bridge comes into view and we are back in the real world such as it is.
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My wife decides she wants to take a photo and this is the best she can come up with, yours truly.
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Just a few more miles to the ramp at Hite and we're done.
It was an amazing trip. Never a dull moment.

Thanks for taking a look.

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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by TradClimber » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:32 am

Well done, yuccahead!

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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by Guz » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:10 am

Despite the lack of indian attacks or desperado holdups, a pretty darn good presentation YC!!!

Guz

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Re: TR: Cataract Canyon rafting, Day 1

Post by yuccahead » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:39 am

Thanks TC and Guz, glad you guys enjoyed it.

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