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Subway spring runoff

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by bhalvers2002, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. bhalvers2002

    bhalvers2002

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    Posted in another thread.....

    After having done the subway many times I have never done it with any flow. Based on discussion above and most recent report from rangers our group was prepared to go look and hike out.

    Got a permit to do subway with my boys and some friends Saturday. Recent snow from Thursday and Friday blanketed the wildcat canyon trailhead. The turnoff towards the subway had some pools and a running creek. I was not optimistic about how much flow I saw. As we descended the snow mostly disappeared but we crossed lots of little streams. Really beautiful.

    Not too far before the hike up over the slick rock saddle leading down to the big down climb into the subway we crossed a full fledged creek. I would guess at least 3 cfs or more. Hmmmm. This is only one part of the flow that ultimately ends up in the creek.

    We finally arrived at the alcove and sure enough it was flowing. I would guess 3-5 cfs. As we moved down the creek there was also some flow coming from das boot - thought to waste deep going back in. The hiking in the creek however wasn't as much as I would have thought. It was in some spots ankle to shin height but certainly not flooded. The flow through the boulders wasn't too forceful so it seemed quite doable for our group. Water was quite cold but manageable in 4/3s up 7 in neoprene depending on person. No more photos since I put the phone away at boulders but was a terrific day.

    No direct correlation but I think worth paying attention to is flow in virgin was 248 cfs that morning. As stated above can't really make a final decision till you make the big hike down to look.

    This may be another thread, but it was not easy to get the permit even at his time of year. Everyone else with a permit this day seemed to be bottom up hikers. Would be nice if they had a separate permit for top down and bottom up. Color code the permits differently for tracking. Depends on time of year but seems like a bunch of top Downers are limited by a higher volume of bottom uppers. I'm sure the park wants to limit total number each day but would be nice to bifurcate the demand. I'm sure I haven't thought through all the issues yet but it seems many days the top down capacity is being underutilized by what I would guess the larger population who put in for the nontechnical bottom hikers.


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  2. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Problem might evolve into what would normally be bottom up hikers deciding to do top down if that was the only option available to them.

    If the idear is to limit folks in the Subway, I'm guessing it doesn't really matter what route you took to get there...

    Although...folks get to see the Narrows of the NF of the Virgin if coming into the canyon via any of the canyoneering routes....
    Ram and EvergreenDean like this.
  3. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    And there is no limit for bottom up users also, but permits for top down
    Ram likes this.
  4. Kyle

    Kyle

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    The last several times I have been in Subway, there always seems to be a party or two that are not prepared for the rappels and route finding. This would just encourage more people to put themselves into situations where they are no longer self dependent.

    On the other hand, the most fragile portion of the route is the portion below the last rappel, and the drainage has developed large social trails over the last few years. Top down canyoneers only cross this section once while those who do bottom up cross this section twice and therefore put twice as much strain on the resource.

    I don't really think this should be compared to the Virgin River Narrows because the left fork is a much more fragile environment.
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Fragile? I don't think so. Social trails in the left fork were well formed the first time I went through, 18 years ago. And they change every year. The campsites that used to be up close to the Subway are now almost entirely gone. Can be sleuthed out, but inobvious.

    I don't think any part of the route is particularly fragile. If anything, the parts of the top-down trail that cut through forest/brush were perhaps the worst, and the recent re-routing of the track moved most of these out of those 'fragile' places.

    Maybe you have a different definition of fragile. Even with the very substantial traffic that the Subway routes see, both routes, I see a landscape that does a good job of repairing itself. Seems like if the Subway was not used by humans for 3 or 4 years, then there would be only minimal signs of human passage.

    Tom
  6. Kelley239

    Kelley239

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    Any updates on Das Boots or Subway. I have a permit in 2 weeks for both. Hoping for a B not a C.
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    People are doing them. Reports are it is "C", but varies day to day. In 2 weeks it should be flowing but pretty mild.

    Tom
  8. Kelley239

    Kelley239

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    Thanks for the update. Please post if you hear anything.
  9. Bryan...of Zion

    Bryan...of Zion

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    Subway from the top down 5/2/17. There wasn't flow coming from the alcove/Russell Gulch at the drop in. The Left Fork water level is notabley higher than I experienced on multiple decents of Subway last year in normal summertime conditions. At the moment it is easily manageable if you're comfortable in some very cold moving water. We had a group of 5 total, 3 new to canyoneering. The underwater arch was interesting and not sure I would recommend doing that right now but that is all dependent on how important style points are to you. Expect the usual swims and be careful even on small downclimbs as the flow will expedite your movement a bit. I would give it a soft "C" rating so in two weeks it should be fine.
  10. Kelley239

    Kelley239

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    Thanks for the update. How was the water flow out of Das Boots?
  11. GravityWins

    GravityWins

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    5/11/17 Das Boot + Subway combo Group of four, one newbe.

    Das Boot was flowing 1-2 cfs, Subway perhaps twice that. The flowing water really made the canyons just a bit different than normal, in a fun way. Das boot was cold, we had four people with neoprene gloves, socks, and double wetsuits (6-8mm.) No one thought that that we had too much cold water protection. For subway we all removed a wetsuit and had 3-5 mm. The newbe in 3mm got chilled. We did catch up to a group that were running Subway sans wetsuits, they looked miserable.

    We took reasonable "C" precautions and had no trouble enjoying fine set of canyons with great company.

    I cleaned up 4 anchors, but I tossed my pack down one of the log jam downclimbs before noticing there were two extra sets of webbing and QL that needed to be removed. Hopefully that will get cleaned up soon.

    TL;DR Fine canyons were a hoot with some flow, low flow still requires preparation and caution.
    darhawk likes this.
  12. rickinlo

    rickinlo

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    I might be responsible for some seemingly unnecessary anchors in Das Boot. They were needed at the time.

    Went down it on April 18th as kind of a spur of the moment thing. I measured and estimated ~6cfs at the get-in (which didn't increase noticeably when we got to the Subway). As a canyon that typically requires no rappelling, I sort of figured "meh."

    Turned out it was somewhat full on. The first big drop made it obvious downclimbing wasn't going to happen. The first drop had a real, actual hydraulic at the bottom. Nothing really dangerous, but it tossed me for a second before I tried swimming harder. Gave my partner a courtesy guided rappel.

    Fortunately that proved to be the crux. There was another drop just after that was big enough to require a rappel with the high water, but waist deep water at the bottom made it easy.

    Near the bottom a final sketchy bit was downclimbing a drop that looked absolutely hideous to try to rappel. I managed a downclimb, and scoped it for a jump, which turned out to be the preferred option that day.

    Soon after that Das Boot opened up and we got to the final rappel. Subway downstream proved to be a delightfully warm, sunny, and simple rest of the trip!

    Anyway, thanks for cleaning up any anchors we left that look silly now that you can just climb down everything!

    -Rick


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  13. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Looks like a fun day!
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