Morning Bikeraft of the South Platte - Trip Report

Date: 7/15/23
CFS: 320 at Trumball, CO
Put in: Downstream of Deckers
Take out: Upstream of Chutes Rapid

Recently got out on the South Platte here near Denver, and finally accomplished my summer goal. I did my first mini bikeraft trip. This was my ultimate goal when buying the packraft early this summer. My ultimate ultimate goal is a multi-day bikeraft trip. So this was a good stepping stone.

But yes! I camped the night before in my truck to get an early start. I had heard the fly-fishers and intertubers would be out in force and I wanted to avoid that. For people that don’t know, this float is very easy, Class I with one a couple maybe Class II waves here and there. I self-shuttled via my Salsa Beargrease fatbike (my least important and least expensive bike) from my take out (just upstream of Chutes Rapid - I wasn’t going to attempt Chutes Rapid with my bike on my packraft). I packed the packraft in my bikepack handlebar bag. Had trouble breaking down my 4-peice paddle, but managed to rig it up on the outside of my handlebar bag. I bought the Alpaca Caribou Bikeraft rig. It’s their lightest most minimal packraft they make. It fit wonderfully in my handlebar bag. Everything else fit in my frame bag so there was nothing on my back, which is always my bikepacking goal (saves to ol’ sit bones!)

I rode my bike from my take out to just downstream of Deckers - roughly 10.3 miles.

The float was beautiful. So serene. The birds chirping and bubbling water noises. The wildlife was amazing. I saw two bald eagles - the highlight of the float for sure. I started early enough to watch the sunrise. At 320 CFS the river was great. No portaging. The caribou handled great with the bike, especially on the mild rapid sections. It was fun hearing people on shore comment about my set up, “Is that a bike on front???” “See! I told you there was a guy rafting with his bike!”.

I got out at my take-out. 11.4 miles of paddling! The main thing I learned on this trip was I need some wetshoes. The water splashing and sloshing around in my non-self bailing packraft was a little uncomfortable. It was a smidge cold for comfort. I also might rig my bike seat towards me next time.
I was limited in bigger paddle strokes with my seat facing away (downstream). Another thing I learned is with the bike on my rig, basically the 8ft in front of your packraft is non-visible. So you have to plan your moves and stick to them earlier on. My notes for the day say: “4.5 miles and 7.8 miles in go river left”

That’s about it! A great morning easy solo adventure that I will be repeating for sure :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Glad you got out there and did it! I started this season with the same goal and have been doing weekly laps on my local river (Stanislaus) near my town of Escalon Ca. Sounds like our rivers Re similar being predominantly class I.

A couple things that has helped me along the way:

  • I roll paddles, dry bag, pump, straps all as part of my raft roll and strap on via the Revelate harness (works like a dream).
  • unless you are maneuvering tight quarters I suggest only taking off the front tire.
  • if you scoot everything as far forward as possible you can set up with the seat and bars facing forward and still give enough room for paddle strokes (I’m 6’4” and use the Caribou as well)

Keep the trip reports coming! Love that you just went out and crushed it!

Heck yes. I appreciate the input. It felt a bit sketchy having my chain and derailleur just hanging there. I’ll try not taking off the back wheel! Let me see if I can add some photos.