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Buckwater Draw TR

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by m3rb1963, May 30, 2007.

  1. m3rb1963

    m3rb1963 Guest

    Had a good time in the main fork of Buckwater Draw on Saturday. This was my first time leading a technical canyon. The actual canyoneering part went great, but it was a learning experience in planning and route finding. We started hiking about 11AM. This was already pushing it, since we had a goal of being back at the Green River Campground (very nice campground, by the way) by 6, and had family members there who would start worrying if we weren't. The other mistake I made was in not reviewing the beta on the canyon right before the trip, and really studying the route details. I had looked at it some time ago, and it seemed straightforward enough: "go along the old jeep road, and as the drainage to the left starts to deepen, descend into it" was the part I remembered. Trouble is, "starts to deepen" is subjective, and in retrospect, we turned into the gulch much too soon. Hiking in it wasn't bad, but definitely slower than walking down a road. Going back to Scott's posts on summitpost afterwards, there is a map, low-res but usable, that shows exactly the recommended turnoff point. Sigh.

    We went on and on, with no signs of slottishness. We set 3PM as a bailout time, but the strata in view up ahead was starting to get a little more promising, so reset 3:30 as a "firm" turnaround time. 3:30 came and we were in the midst of some fun bouldery downclimbing, with red and gold sandstone enticingly close up ahead. Are we really going to bail now? It was decided that I'd take a radio and scout ahead for 5 minutes. Right at that point, there it is, the start of the slot! We know that at this point, we can't possibly make it back to camp by 6, but one thing we had discovered is that there is, amazingly, good cell phone coverage up high, and we are confident we can call by then. So on we go...

    While the gulch had been mostly dry, with a few small pools, a bit of water was flowing in the slot--easily avoidable at first. The downclimbs mostly went well, with the exception of the first one that had a small pool below it--the shortest-legged member of our group of four had difficulty, and I ended up climbing back up it to assist.

    We found the rappels rigged with doubled webbing that I inspected and found to be in good shape, and rings. The first one went smoothly, even for my son Ryan (16) who had no experience rather than a bit of training the previous afternoon. The second one presents the choice of going right down the wet pouroff with a tight spot to go through, or try to angle off to the side. The first two went right down the channel just fine, though my daughter Caitlin (19) was nervous getting started. My son was advised from below that angling over to the smooth wall looked easier (and also had potential of avoiding the pool at the bottom). With some difficulty getting started, he attempted it, but right off the edge started skating over. The fireman's belay kept him on his feet, though, and he then worked his way to the channel to finish. I was last and tested the footing of the angled descent and didn't like it, so went down the channel, too. The third rap has a shelf of chockstones extending out well away from the pouroff, with the last one being slabbish and only about 10 inches thick. There was some nervousness about the quasi-free-air rap (not completely free air since you can touch at least one wall). I was last to go, and assisted the other 3 by carefully lowering the rope to the lip as they started. When I went, there was still about 6 inches from the rope to the lip even when completely horizontal, so had to drop and swing a bit before being stabilized from below. I then enjoyed going down quickly, free-air.

    At this point, there is a climbable exit to the north, and we chose to take it because we were simply out of time. So we have yet to visit the Magic Chamber. That will have to wait until we do the south fork. We arrived at the car about 8PM.

    I'd like to express my appreciation to my tripmates for putting up with my poor routing, and persevering through the "What? There ain't no slot canyon here" phase. I'd like to congratulate Caitlin and Ryan for overcoming fears and ending up learning new things and having a good time. Finally, thanks to my partner Lalie for her help, advice, and coaching. This was her first real canyon, by the way, though we did the ACA class together.

    The jeep road is in good condition and easily driveable by SUV's or many 2WD vehicles, for the 3 miles or so that we hiked it. I am disappointed that it is closed due to being in a WSA. Furthermore, that portion of the area, the sagebrush flats, doesn't meet the criteria for wilderness, in my opinion. There were cattle grazing all over the place, barbed-wire fences, and dammed ponds, as well as roads. It appears to me that the area is under the sway of the more extreme sort of wilderness advocates. Being able to drive to a closer access point would have made for a much shorter hike and a more enjoyable trip. I intend to make some inquiries and see if some changes might be made. Any advice or help on this topic would be appreciated.

    I look forward to exploring the south fork of Buckwater, and other canyons in the Dinosaur area.

    Robert Brooks
  2. "I look forward to exploring the south fork of Buckwater, and other canyons in the Dinosaur area.

    Sorry you dropped in too early. The upper canyon isn't very interesting and is quite tedious.

    Anyway, I'm going to change that dang route description. There is a much shorter route in from Plug Hat Rock.

    Come in this way and do the South Fork:

    http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/108249.JPG

    Swing back up on the "light blue line" and do the Main Fork (dark blue) and return via the green route.

    http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/108092.JPG

    This route visits both forks, is easier, less elevation gain, and offers more bang for the buck than the light blue line you took.

    I think I'll just delete the old route since the southern one is more enjoyable to most. That way, no one can drop in early and it cuts down on walking and elevation gain.

    The NW Colorado College out of Rangely now uses this southern route to access and go up the South Fork for their rock climbing classes. Because of this, the SF is now probably the most popular slot in CO.

    Also, if interested, there are much longer slot canyons in the area, but I haven't had time to add any of them to the net yet.

    Outlaw Arch Canyon is very deep and quite narrow and the most spectacular canyon I have seen yet in the area:

    http://www.summitpost.org/canyon/231295/Outlaw-Arch-Canyon.html

    It's too early in the year to do it. It is more challenging that something like Buckwater though, so build up the skills before going there.

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  3. m3rb1963

    m3rb1963 Guest

    Hey Scott,

    Sounds like you're saying it's about the same time and effort to do the Grand Tour of both forks, as it is to do the main fork alone?
  4. "Sounds like you're saying it's about the same time and effort to do the Grand Tour of both forks, as it is to do the main fork alone?"

    Yes and no. Doing the "Grand Tour" round trip from Plug Hat and back to Plug Hat is about the same amount of time to do just the main fork from the route you came in (unless you drive the 4wd road). Plug Hat is at 7000 feet, so involves over 600 feet less elevation gain.

    Rather than go up to the upper trailhead, we recently found it was better to use Plug Hat both ways and directions, at least time and effort wise.

    Also, rumor has it that the road you walked is now open again and legal, but since I haven't confirm that, I can't put it on the website. You will have to check with the BLM. If it is the case, then that way is the shortest way in. Otherwise, use the route from Plug Hat if you don't want to walk the road on the north side.









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  5. m3rb1963

    m3rb1963 Guest

    Also, rumor has it that the road you walked is now open again and legal, but since I haven't confirm that, I can't put it on the website. You will have to check with the BLM. If it is the case, then that way is the shortest way in. Otherwise, use the route from Plug Hat if you don't want to walk the road on the north side.



    Yeah I've been researching that, and it appears that it is among the roads Moffat County declared in their RS 2477 resolution.

    http://www.co.moffat.co.us/NaturalResources/rightofwaymap_lg.htm
  6. Just because a county has claimed a RS2477 right of way doesn't make it legal or right to drive on it. If you're able enough to canyoneer you're able enough to walk.

  7. m3rb1963

    m3rb1963 Guest


    Just because a county has claimed a RS2477 right of way doesn't make it legal or right to drive on it.

    From my research, this is not at all clear. Are you a lawyer? Do you work for the BLM, and if so, do you cite people based on this position? Have any such citations held up in court?

    As to it being "right", there are thousands of acres that are still open to drive cross-country, but it doesn't mean I would. I am aware and respectful of reasons like cryptobiotic soils and erosion. I would simply like to use an established road for which doing so has no apparent negative consequences, either in the field of in any published report I can find.

    > If you're able enough to canyoneer you're able enough to walk. >

    It is not a matter of ability. It is a matter of time and efficiency. I have the _ability_ to walk from my home in Fort Collins to Dinosaur, yet if I chose to do so rather than burn fossil fuels and emit carbon in so doing, even the vast majority of environmentalists would think it very odd.

    Your statement is haughty and presumptuous, and, unless you have specific data on the stretch of road in question, absurd.
  8. adkramoo

    adkramoo Guest

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "m3rb1963" <m3rb@...> wrote:

    > Just because a county has claimed a RS2477 right of way doesn't make > it legal or right to drive on it.
    From my research, this is not at all clear.

    I would like very much to know.

    Are you a lawyer? Do you > work for the BLM, and if so, do you cite people based on this > position? Have any such citations held up in court?

    He is a dedicated fellow who has worked tirelessly, donating his time and money, as an advocate for wilderness and he is one of my heroes. Not all agree with us. If it is a legal road, fair enough, but with the counties claiming ant trails as roads, it has got us enviro whacko types a bit sensitive and on the look out.

    > As to it being "right", there are thousands of acres that are still > open to drive cross-country, but it doesn't mean I would. I am aware> and respectful of reasons like cryptobiotic soils and erosion.

    And the point of all the work Harv has done is that it is still legal for someone, not sharing your ethic, to come by and do just what you wouldn't. Without protection, the wild is just continually chipped away at. Less tomorrow. Gone someday.

    I > would simply like to use an established road for which doing so has no > apparent negative consequences, either in the field of in any > published report I can find.

    Again, if it isn't closed off or a new questionable RS 2477 claim, it may be fine. Why was it closed off though? Just curious. Access is good. Carving access to the rim of every slot is Disneyland or Europe. Some would prefer it. Others loath it. Thus the battleground. I would like to leave enough room for ecosystems to prosper, so the sound of motor vehicles can not be heard etc. If it means making the plums of the plateau a little further afield, so be it. Soon I may not have the fitness to get out to these places, but that is OK with me. As long as my children have such places to go. My comments above are not at all directed toward any preceived difference of opinions between us. It seems we are likely on the same side on most issues. Just a chance to get on the soapbox and laud my pal

    from my home in Fort Collins

    Nice place. Ram
  9. >If it is a legal road, fair enough, but with the counties claiming ant trails as roads, >it has got us enviro whacko types a bit sensitive and on the look out.

    One reason I recommended coming in from Plug Hat is because the status of this road isn't clear, and it's hard to get a straight answer. I said on the page the BLM recommends parking on the paved road.

    In this case, there is a jeep road. The problem is that a narrow strip on either side of the Echo Park Road is owned by Dinosaur National Monument. Why? I don't know. It has something to do with road funding.

    It causes confusion among campers as well as the NM says no camping along the Echo Park Road, but in reality everything 100 yards on either side of the road is outside the monument and administered by the BLM.

    See the map and notice "National Monument Boundary":

    http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=40.30118&lon=-108.94939&size=l&u=4&datum=nad27&layer=DRG

    Anyway, back to the road. In only a couple miles, the road originates or ends in Uinta County Utah (Private Land) goes through a short part of Colorado, via private and BLM Land and ends or begins in the National Monument.

    The ranchers have always had permission to use the road (K ranch is just west of the canyon). Whether or not it is open to recreational use is unclear. It's on public land so the ranch can't close it and the BLM and National Monument prefers that people not drive the road (besides the slot canyon, it only goes to the ranch), but I have heard that it's not actually illegal to drive. For sure it is legal to walk.

    To sum it up, just park at Plug Hat.









    Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha! Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Games.
  10. You're right it's not a matter of ability it's a matter of laziness. The comparison of driving to Dinosaur from Fort Collins is a false one. That drive would be on pavement not on a disputed RS2477 claim, most of which are not roads at all. No, I'm not a lawyer but I know the ones who are fighting RS 2477 right of ways. Why not contact SUWA to see if in fact that's a disputed RS 2477. If not, then drive away, if it is then you'll have to look into yourself, and make a judgement call. Yes, then it's a matter of right and wrong.

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