Packrafting in Utah?

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Andrew_McLean
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Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Andrew_McLean » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:02 pm

Hello - this is my first posting here, so please take it easy on me.. :)

I'm interested in buying a Packraft, but as I don't know that much about their capabilities was wondering if anyone knew what the packrafting potential was in Utah. I live in Park City and it seems like there are plenty of little rivers around. ??

I've done a bunch of kayaking in the past and am intrigued by the idea of using packrafts for skiing and adventure outings, but perhaps also for fishing. Many of the rivers in Utah are bony, but have deeper channels which make wading across them kind of sporty. It seems like the shallow draft of a packraft would make many of these rivers quite floatable.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew

Jules Watson
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Jules Watson » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:30 pm

Andrew, dunno about Utah but I use them for similar fishing access in Oz. BTW - if you are A.M. the ski mountaineer, did you ever eat that vegemite ?

Andrew_McLean
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Andrew_McLean » Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:46 am

Jules Watson wrote:Andrew, dunno about Utah but I use them for similar fishing access in Oz. BTW - if you are A.M. the ski mountaineer, did you ever eat that vegemite ?
Just the Kiwi version - Marmite, which is pretty good once I learned how to eat it. My first attempt involved loading up a piece of toast with about a 1/2" thick layer of it, which almost sent me to the hospital with salt induced dehydration. My Kiwi friend got a good laugh out of that - "It's not peanut butter! Just a thin smear."

Paddling Regression
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Paddling Regression » Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:22 am

Alpaca Packrafts = the dynafit of the paddling world

I'm sure you'll be able to find many places to use a packraft throughout Utah. If those are not to your liking, you'll just have to visit other places so as to put it to use. ;)
"If it ain't high, it ain't quality"

Jules Watson
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Jules Watson » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:42 pm

:D Yes, less is more with the 'mites.

PR is on the righ ttrack with the dynafit comparison - they both seem way to shaky at first, but once you realise where they have been and how they can be driven, you begin to marvel.

Andrew_McLean
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Andrew_McLean » Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:00 pm

I'm sold on the concept, I just need to sell some gear to finance my Packraft. :)

Do they do well in shallow, rocky water? I'm assuming they probably will because of the shallow draft, but wonder how tough they are.

I'm also wondering about spray skirt vs. not. I'd like to be able to jump in/out and carry a pack, which may be tougher with a skirt.

Arturgreen
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Arturgreen » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:28 pm

Andrew_McLean wrote:I'm sold on the concept, I just need to sell some gear to finance my Packraft. :)

Do they do well in shallow, rocky water? I'm assuming they probably will because of the shallow draft, but wonder how tough they are.

I'm also wondering about spray skirt vs. not. I'd like to be able to jump in/out and carry a pack, which may be tougher with a skirt.

They are as tough as you could want them to be. I've been dragging one of mine over rocks for years with no problems at all. Watch some of the crazy packrafting videos on YouTube and you'll be easily convinced.

I do a lot of fishing with my packraft and I think the spray skirt is preferable when landing a fish. Without the skirt, you toss the fish in the boat and get slime and water everywhere (unless you net it and put it straight on a stringer). With the skirt you have a flat surface to work with that you can wash off with a few handfuls of water. If you're fishing for anything with spines, it's also nice to keep the fish away from your legs and the float tubes. They're quite tough but they won't stand up to a hard impact with a needle-sharp point. :)

mhay
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by mhay » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:19 am

They're very tough. I'm consistently impressed with the durability of the materials and quality of workmanship. Also it's difficult, when topping off by mouth, to get so much pressure in the tubes that they're rock-hard and more likely to puncture. I've slammed many a sharp edge of Chugach Choss with barely a mark.

The advantage of having the skirt is that you have the option to use it, or not. Sometimes when doing low-water more technically challenging runs, I don't close the skirt all the way. In these situations having a graceful exit from the boat is more of a concern than keeping the boat dry. My boat has the older center-open skirt, as opposed to the newer side-open, so I can't speak to how the side-open skirts work for use while open. The typical method for carrying a pack is to tie it to the bow, so the skirt is not a hindrance for rigging gear in this way.

alaskabackcountry
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by alaskabackcountry » Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:02 am

Andrew,

You are going through the standard phases of packraft introduction... Something like: damn, they're expensive but really useful... I'll probably just use if for easy stuff... Do I really need all those extras?... Before you know it you've got the whole setup. Check out the posts of rafting Utah's canyon country. Lots of possibilities in your neck of the woods. Alaskans are using them for combined ski/raft or climb/raft trips to cut out half a flight and add another element. If you plan to run anything splashy the spray deck is highly desireable. If you plan to run anything in Alaska where you might swim a drysuit is almost mandatory, not sure about Utah water temperature.

Spring for it and don't look back. Probably the greatest challenge you'll have is finding partners or convincing your friends to buy their own.

The correlation between backcountry skiing and packrafting is huge. Think about all those rivers on the map as couloirs. No trails necessary.

Jules Watson
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Jules Watson » Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:52 am

Welcome aboard Andrew ! I see fromyour straightchuter blog you have joined us !

Andrew_McLean
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Andrew_McLean » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:48 am

Yep! So far, so good although I'm still trying to figure out exactly where to take it.

cory
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by cory » Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:27 pm

Andrew - I lived in Park City for six years (until 2002), and looking back, I would have loved to have owned a packraft when I was there. You've got a lot of options. There are posts in this forum about Canyonlands, Escalante, and the Green River (a section north of Canyonlands). Here are a few more suggestions, but keep in mind that this is based on my foggy memory, and I haven't run most of them, so use your best judgement.

Easy places to get started near Park City: East Canyon Creek beyond Jeremy Ranch might be a good one, if there is enough water. I recall thinking that is boat-able, but I'm not sure. You could make a loop by hiking up Little Emigration Canyon, along the ridge to Parley's Summit then down to East Canyon Creek for the float back. I think sections of the Weber River could be good also, even as close as Wanship. I bet there are good sections of the Provo River too. That stuff is all road-accessible (maybe a little too accessible).

Once you are familiar with the boat, I would head south to the desert. There are a ton of options down there. See the Escalante or Canyonlands posts, or maybe try the Virgin River near Zion NP. The Uintas are also very intriguing, but I don't know if any of those rivers are runnable. Once you do one trip, your brain will start racing with lots of other potential trips. My brain's already racing. Maybe its time for a trip to Utah.

Here's a good list of Utah Rivers, if you haven't used it already:
http://www.americanwhitewater.org/conte ... /state/UT/

RomanDial
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by RomanDial » Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:23 am

They say Dinosaur National Monument rivers are good boating....

One strategy is to buy another boat for your friends and do rivers everyone else does in "real boats" to calibrate yourselves. Plan on doing hiking in and outs -- e.g. hike down to Spanish Bottom in Canyonlands, run Catarcat and hike out. So there you have an example of normal boat run with hike in and out. Do the same for creeks, then start exploring!

That's the beauty of packrafts right now. Most packrafters are in discovery-mode, it's not yet trade-stamped.

bradmeiklejohn
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by bradmeiklejohn » Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:55 am

Hey Andrew,

You may remember me from my Utah days as an avalanche forecaster. Glad to see you are looking into packrafting. Like the others have said, jump in and don't look back. Go for a decked boat, too, because I suspect you will want to push the envelope. These boats are amazingly tough, functional, and fun.

I would think that both the Uintas and Winds would provide some great packrafting potential. You should hook up with Forrest McCarthy in Jackson, WY. I suspect you two would hit it off.

Boat on,

Brad Meiklejohn
Eagle River, Alaska

forrestmccarthy
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by forrestmccarthy » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:53 am

Last edited by forrestmccarthy on Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

tskins@hotmail.com

Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by tskins@hotmail.com » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:12 am

What's up andrew

My name is Thomas, and I just moved to Summit Co, more specifically I live in Coalville. I just purchased an Alkpacka,and I think that there are tons of rivers to "shoot". You should buy a boat and we could tear it up as a team.

Rivers that I'm looking at
1. Chalk creek (in coalville during flood stage)
2. Weber River (the whole river)
3. Bear River (in evanston wy, there is a section that was designed and built for kayakers and rafters)
4. The Green river
5. You can also fish on all of the lakes here, rockport, echo, east canyon, etc, etc
6. I'm already planning trips, and I want to make some of these trips that are posted on the forum.

tskins@hotmail.com

Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by tskins@hotmail.com » Thu May 13, 2010 7:00 am

Howdy andrew

i just moved to coalville, and i just recieved my alpacka in the mail. Lets hit some of our local rivers together. All i need is a buddy system. There are so many good rivers within 45 minutes. Examples; weber river below echo, the provo, the bear river in evanston wyoming is a great beginner river because they have engineered it as a kayak river through town with boulders and drops. Let me know if u get a boat, or if you just want to see my boat in action before u purchase one, i'm willing to let u try mine if it means u buy one.

Doug
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Doug » Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:46 pm

Anyone know if it might be possible to float the East Fork of the Virgin from near Mt. Carmel Junction to the Zion Park boundary (or all the way through the Park). Where does it hit the main Virgin? Any idea if it gets enough water in say late April - early May? Isn't that when the Muddy or Dirty Devil or Escalante would be best run too?

I live in Alaska and a bunch of us are hot to bring our packrafts south in spring 2011 for a couple of weeks of sun and water time before our rivers are runable up north here.

Check out what we will be doing with our packrafts again this winter --- playing packraft water polo, like what the WW kayakers have done for years. We think we were the 1st to play polo in PRs, last winter.

http://www.meetup.com/AnchorageAdventur ... /11923011/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCWtkEwGacA

http://www.adn.com/2009/12/23/1068167/w ... -polo.html :D :o :shock: :P

DaveChenault
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by DaveChenault » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:20 pm

Doug wrote:Anyone know if it might be possible to float the East Fork of the Virgin from near Mt. Carmel Junction to the Zion Park boundary (or all the way through the Park). Where does it hit the main Virgin? Any idea if it gets enough water in say late April - early May? Isn't that when the Muddy or Dirty Devil or Escalante would be best run too?

There will be plenty of water. That would be the least of your problems. First is that lower Parunaweep Canyon (the lowest section of the East Fork inside the park) is a research area that is closed to all human visitation. Second is at least one big waterfall near the park boundary. Third would be what I would imagine to be some good rapids at normal spring flows.

Look into floating the Narrows around that time. You'll want 2-300 cfs. A hike up, float out of the lower East Fork (on BLM land outside the park) might be interesting as well.

buckchow

Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by buckchow » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:57 am

If you check this forum:
http://splitboard.com/talk/viewtopic.ph ... nta#p65102
under Jun 11,2010, middle of page 4, there's some photos of a packraft/snow sliding outing that Andrew and I went on in the Uintas some months ago.

Doug
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Doug » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:50 am

Guess I had better go walk that East Fork section first before thinking about a PR trip there that would end at the park boundary with a walk out to the road near Checkerboard Mesa.

Doug
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Doug » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:15 am

Dave what leads you to think the park service would allow a permit to go into the narrows when there is enough water to actually float it? Or are you just talking about walking up that lower few miles? If I were running the Narrows I sure would be hoping to do the whole 16 miles. The other trick would be getting up there - I do not know that there is a shuttle running until the river is sufficiently low to be walkable; and walkable does not sound like much fun to raft?!

DaveChenault
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by DaveChenault » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:05 pm

Doug, the Zion NPS has been giving out free boating permits for the Virgin River for years. Got one myself to take duckies down the Virgin from the Temple to the visitor center years ago. More recently they've capped the Narrows boating permit level at below 450 cfs. In my experience boating the Virgin below the Narrows at 300 cfs, and hiking portions of the Narrows at 150 cfs, 2-400 would be ideal range for packrafting.

You are correct that in the spring the road up to Chamberlain gets pretty nasty as it dries. However, there ought to be a good window when that road (6k elevation or so) is dry but the head waters of the Virgin (10k+) are still melting and providing plenty of water for floating.

happyfeet00
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by happyfeet00 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:58 pm

The Virgin should have a significant flow this spring. The drainage is at 150-225% depending on how the agency measures (precip vs. snow/water). Enjoy Zion. Will be good to have a group of experienced folks to qualm the NPS's recent fears and experiences.

Doug
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by Doug » Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:24 pm

Dave when do you think that time window for getting up the road to access the full length of the Narrows would be good and still have the necessary water to float it? Interested in teaming up on that?

Do you live in Whitefish, MT or somewhere up that way? I'll be driving from Alaska to Grand Junction, CO the first week or 10 days of March. Maybe I could drop in to visit with you?

DaveChenault
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by DaveChenault » Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:37 am

Hey Phillip!

I imagine there's a good window, in May most likely, when you can find a dry road and the tail end of meltoff at the same time. Just a guess.

happyfeet00
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by happyfeet00 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:13 pm

I would recommend running the lower gorge, along I-15, as well. Should be runnable for a long period this time for packrafters. Its be running steady for a month since the big floods in December (the had to Evac Springdale). With a packraft you could easily run from Saint George to the last exit in the Gorge in a day. Solid class III run interspersed with several class IV rapids and class V low head dams (easily portaged if you don't let them sneak up on you). The run is a blast as long as you are careful and can keep a low profile in the tamarisk jungles.

There is also a kayak/gorge run below Virgin if you are a Class V boater.

The Chute of Muddy Creek may also be runnable this year and is much closer to Grand Junction.

Phillip

happyfeet00
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by happyfeet00 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:15 pm

Hey Dave,

Getting closer to buying one of the Alpacka products. Just bought a dry suit to start pushing the season in the SW. I can probably get a loaner from Matt if you ever want to do a trip down here. He's pushing some new canyoneering terrain with the packrafts he bought. Should give him a call.

Hope all is well, buddy. Give me a heads up if you are going to be in the area.

Phillip

exaurdon
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by exaurdon » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:08 pm

Anyone in Utah (or nearby) have a boat they would be willing to rent out the week of May 1-May 8th? I have a Llama and a Yak but I need a third boat for a trip in southern Utah with a couple friends. Obviously packrafts are a large investment, so we're willing to pay a significant rental fee for the week. Please let me know if you can make a boat available, and let me know how much you'd being willing to rent it for. I live in the Salt Lake City area so I'm hoping to find someone relatively close by, but I'd be open to offers from pretty much anywhere right now.

Thanks,

Alex Richardson
alexrichardson@gmail.com

DIRTYDEVIL
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Re: Packrafting in Utah?

Post by DIRTYDEVIL » Sun Oct 27, 2013 11:29 pm

I packrafted the East Fork of the Virgin last spring through the Barracks. There is a way around the waterfall. You have to scramble about 50 feet up on river left, right before the falls. There is an eddy to take out among some vehicle sized boulders in the stream. Once you climb 50 feet up, there is a cave you have to slip through to get back down to the stream. The takeout is a few minutes down stream, dont miss it if the stream has a decent flow or you will enter a cataract full of seives and falls, with no way to go back up stream. At the takeout, its a class III and IV climb for the first few hundred feet, then a half day hike across petrified sand dunes and through some narrows west of Checkerboard Mesa. The route out requires great map reading skills. I only paddles the bottom 5 miles of the barracks an 80 cfs from the gage near Sprindale. If you want to paddle from the top of the gorge down to the Zions boundery you will been at least 50 cfs on the USGS gage above the gorge. It looks like may be class III if the stream was higher, say 200 cfs. There are some clear feeder streams and springs for drinking, and slot canyons to explore along the way. The Barracks dont get unreasonably narrow. I didnt encounter any wood portages in the bottom 5 miles, but there maybe some above. The gradient is low and the canyon is plenty wide for portaging above the bottom few miles. The river mostly has a sandy and gravel bottom.

The Uintah Rivers are plenty big enough for paddling. Ive done Chalk Creek, Provo, Duchesne, Yellowstone, and the Uintah Rivers. Ive known of other paddles doing the Weber, Lake Fork, Rock Creek, Whiterocks, Ashley Gorge, Red Rock Creek, Henries Forks, Blacks Forks, East Fork and Stillwater Forks of the Bear. There are other streams that are raftable but have wood. The best whitewater is inside the uintah slate boxes on the south slope. The upper reaches of many of these boxes contain bedrock slides, ledges, and waterfalls. All of these rivers peak around 1000 to 3000 cfs and are pactraftable May through July. Watch out for fallen trees! Best level for safely packrafting these rivers is under 500 cfs visual. You will have to wait till mid May/early June to escape the snow in the lower elevations of the High Uintah Wilderness. And be very careful to not attract bears while camping here, not only for your safety, but because the locals of Utah and rangers are trigger happy for bears that have raided camps even once.

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