River Report: The Little Colorado, Lower Stretch

Four of us ran the Little C lower stretch, probably 3-4 miles or so, down to the Colorado, in January, 2008.

Section: Ceepoopoo (spelling?) to the Colorado Confluence, several miles.
Normal River Character: Travertine dams, class II+
Water Level: Above-average. We ran several days after a 4-day pineapple express storm. The water was like milk choclate, and high enough that all the travertine was overflowing; the dams were in effect become roughy, rocky low-head dams.
Rating: Solid Class III, III+ to IV- in one or two spots.
Waves & Drops: I estimate the largest waves were 2-3 ft, and the largest drop I went over was probably 3+ ft of tavertine.

The lower section of the Little C is a lot of fun. It’s also a sacred river. We hiked up from the Colorado for several hours: two packrafters, two kayakers w/ whitewater kayaks (one with a BIG rock secreted in the tail :wink:) . It’s a nice hike up; the trail is on the river-left side. We put in just above the Ceepoopoo.

:arrow_right: The Ceepoopoo is a very, very sacred Hopi area. The Hopi believe it is where the spirits of the first humans emerged from the underworld. It is a dome-like travertine spring. Personally, I passed through that area with great respect, and took nothing from the area. If you’re into this kind of thing, as I am, it’s a powerful place.

Paddling: The lower Little C was then a series of wavy open stretches, projecting mid-stream rocks w/ fun eddies, slalom courses of boulders, drops of travertine, and side chutes and runs through the reads. It was relatively fast, and a lot of side chutes were active, making for a lot of fun, but there were also a few sweepers across these side chutes. Watch out at these above-average water levels. There were no sweepers in the main river, as there aren’t large enough trees for it in the canyon. At high water, the river is turbulent and splashy; expect to dump water fairly often, even in a decked boat.

Sketch Factor: The biggest dodgy element was the travertine drops, ranging from 1 foot to - in one case - maybe 3-4 feet (it always looks bigger to me when I careen over it w/o warning). In fast, muddy, turbid water, you may not see the drops ahead of you. My boat (Alpaca) handled them fine, though the sound of my floor scraping over that rough limestone was unnerving as hell. However, my floor was fine. Be ready to execute these sloping drops, well-centered in the boat & with enough forward lean when you hit the bottom so you don’t do a backwards flip and autograph your helmet on the limestone.

Events: Nobody swam, even our relatively novice packrafter, but I’ll point right out that he’s a superb athlete and very skilled oarsman with the ability to read water quickly and in nervy situations (he was rowing the Canyon for the 2nd time). It was very cool have the two different kinds of boat types out together on it, as we could see each other’s technique. I learned a bit about creeking from my kayaker friends, and really developed my eddying technique just from paddling with them.

One of our guys tried to float out a tire in his packraft… a BIG tire. Sadly, he lost it overboard near the confluence. Casualties: 1 tire.

**Colorado Confluence:**The final section mellows out, then dumps into the Colorado. If you’re camping at the confluence camp across the Colorado, you’ve got your own water-taxi: the Big C is easily crossable in an Alpacka here, w/ out getting swept downstream, as long as you paddle upshore until you’re parrallel to camp’s beach landing, then make a straight shot across the big river.