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Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

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The_Dude
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Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

Post by The_Dude » Mar 23 2016 12:17 pm

I am fairly new to the kayaking world having only gone on about a half dozen trips, and just recently got my own boat over the winter. I just have not found anything close to the amount of info that Hike AZ provides from a kayak site. A few friends and I were thinking about doing the stretch of the Colorado from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry by way of commercial backhaul. We were going to go to Lee's Ferry and have our kayaks brought back to the dam, and then either camp that night at Ferry Swale, or paddle down a bit to one of the other camp areas. Two main questions for anyone who has done it before and could offer some advice (hopefully azbackpacker, you seem to be an expert on the area :D):

1. Timing - we were looking at about mid-June to take advantage of decent temps, but hopefully before monsoons become an issue, is this a good time or would there be better? I know the water is cold pretty much year-round.

2. Technical skill - This is rated as class I and class II for water which should be fine, but I just wanted to make sure my little kayak should be able to handle it. I have a 10' ride in el cheapo (Sundophin Aruba, from the lovely Sears Outlet for a good deal) that maneuvers well, but doesn't track the greatest. All of us have either 10 or 11' kayaks, some better quality than others. Is this stretch doable in smaller boats, or are the larger kayaks the only safe way to go?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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juliachaos
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Re: Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

Post by juliachaos » Mar 23 2016 2:27 pm

1. We went in early June 2014 and the temps were perfect! The cold water was a nice compliment to the sunshine, and we even caught a few fish.

2. During that time, the water was super easy. Class I all the way. In the boat you have, I'd expect the ride to take a little longer, but definitely doable. Especially going with the current. The only kind of boat that might have some difficulty is probably an inflatable... sometimes there is a bit of wind on the Colorado, and it can easily push an inflatable the wrong direction.

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azbackpackr
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Re: Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 23 2016 5:12 pm

@The Dude
Hi Dude! I not only drive the boats that provide the backhaul service, but I have used the service several times before I was an employee. I have also paddled 6 miles upriver to 6 Mile Camp (not recommended unless you are very sure of your skills.)

Yes, Ferry Swale is a very nice camp, very pretty and lots of room. Since a lot of the Tamarisk trees have died due to beetle infestation, you will almost certainly want to bring a tarp to stretch between the dead trees for shade. June is fine. I have done it in May, June, July and August. It is hot on shore, but it is cool when you are paddling. The boats you have should be fine. The "rapids" are barely Class I. Please do wear a life vest at all times in your boat. That water is hypothermia-inducing cold.

There are people doing the camping now, in fact. It's pretty nice right now, but it can get very windy at this time of year. Not fun, can be dangerous.

At some point my company is going to be told by NPS that we have to stop dropping kayakers off near the dam for a while. There is an active osprey nest at "kayak beach," the uppermost place where we drop kayakers off. The guide may suggest another spot lower down, or can just drop you at Ropes campsite (upstream from Ferry Swale) or at Ferry Swale itself.

Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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The_Dude
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Re: Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

Post by The_Dude » Mar 23 2016 11:04 pm

Thanks for the responses! Looks like a fun trip without much technical skill needed, but never hurts to make sure. We all have vests too, that is a must have in my book.

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azbackpackr
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Re: Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 24 2016 3:40 am

@The Dude
Let me know when you plan to do the backhaul, maybe I'll be working that day and can say "hi!" They call me Liz on the river.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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JOSHH
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Re: Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

Post by JOSHH » Apr 06 2016 10:02 am

How strict are you guys about the 15' boat length limit?

I am looking to do this trip next month, but my kayak is 16'.


Thanks,
Josh.

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azbackpackr
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Re: Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

Post by azbackpackr » Apr 06 2016 7:46 pm

@JOSHH
My kayak is 16.5 and so is my friend's. I had no idea there was a 15' limit, and pretty sure the guides don't know it either, and there is plenty of room for a 16 foot kayak!

And, now that I've just gone back and looked at our website, you will see it says we can't accommodate RAFTS longer than 15 feet. Your kayak is not a raft. http://raftthecanyon.com/raft-the-river ... -services/
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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JOSHH
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Re: Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry

Post by JOSHH » Apr 08 2016 11:08 am

Okay. Thanks for the info.

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