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Subway spring runoff

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

  1. bhalvers2002


    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.

  2. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

    Salt Lake City
    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


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


    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


    Mount Carmel, Utah
    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.

    2065toyota and Jman like this.
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