I had a funny idea a few months ago: Colorado and Utah are at the low (we hope) ebb of a 10-year drought cycle, meaning our trails are dessicated and our rivers low.
Thinking proactively, it occurred to me that this would be an *ideal* time to use fatbikes to access Cataract Canyon, taking advantage of the low flows therein to float it with packrafts.
Last weekend that's exactly what we did. The idea may have been mine, but the route was pure Doom, and we wouldn't have had half the laughs we did without Moe in the picture.
We rode from Cathedral Butte down to Bobby's Hole, stashing the bikes and hiking Cross Canyon past dark on the first night.
Second day we hiked upriver to Brown Betty rapids, putting in just below them in the interest of expediency: They didn't look hard or even that much fun, and we wanted all the daylight we could salvage for the bigger rapids to come later in the day.
Third day we hiked straight up from the river (~2000' in the first mile) and followed Imperial Canyon back to intersect our outbound route. Back to the bikes early PM, then we rode 'til sunset to close the loop.
On the ride in we had semi-hardpacked conditions, making me think the fatbikes were overkill. But while we were hiking and floating there must have been lots of jeep/atv traffic through the Needles, because on our homeward ride the sand was deep and dry enough to warrant plump tires. In short, they were neither necessary nor superfluous: They were simply convenient.
Krampus would be the ideal year-round steed for trips in this area.
The river was at ~4100cfs when we ran it. If I were to do this trip again (ASAP!) I'd not bother hiking upriver from Cross Canyon. I'd put in right there and use the surplus time to take a nap, take more pics, lap some of the bigger rapids, or maybe even roll the whole loop in 2 days. Except if the water was higher, then Brown Betty might be worth it.
Here's Moe's take on the trip:
Tender ears alert--if profanity ain't your thing, mute that ^ one through the float!!
Finally, in Moe's vid he showed my blown attempt at sneaking Big Drop 3. Here's my take on *that* moment:
Several important lessons learned there. Ahem.
Incredible 3-day trip that I'll certainly be repeating. Thanks boys.