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11-11-2007, 08:56 PM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
- Boulder, CO
20070813 and 15: Dreaming double...
Just putting two trips together as they are related and I only took pictures on the 15th…
I wanted to explore a little higher up in Dream Canyon, so I used Google Earth and Topo to find a couple drop in points higher up. I found three possible points. I was going to be running Dream in a couple of days when a friend from Michigan, Don, was in. Talked to a few of the Colorado Canyoneers to see if anyone had explored Dream Canyon higher, up and it didn't look like anyone had.
Got an e-mail from a gal, Jen, who wanted to do Dream on Wed 8/15; but she didn't have any rappel experience. Chatted with her, and settled on a hybrid trip for today. She would meet me, and we would scout the possible entry points that I saw for upper Dream; and then we would do some rappel practice, to get her ready for Wednesday.
We met up at Boulder Falls, and left her car there just in case things went very well and we ran Dream Canyon today as well. We then hopped in my Jeep, and scouted the three possible higher entry points that I researched. Two out of the three looked like they would be good drop in points. We didn't go in however, as it wouldn't be a very good idea since Jen hadn't ever rappelled before; and we didn’t know what we would run into. Keeping them in mind for next time
We then drove over to the normal drop in point for Dream Canyon, and started the hike down. On the way down, I picked out a couple of spots where I could set a rope and show Jen how to rappel. She did well and there was still some light left, so we discussed it and decided to head down Dream Canyon. We could always bypass any of the rappels if we needed to.
The water levels were about the same as two weeks ago, and the water temperatures were about the same too; which was moderately warm. Many could likely get by with just a shorty. Jen used one of my shorties; and even though I had a farmer john with me, I didn't need to put it on. The water was warm enough for me. We made it to the first rappel, set it; and rapped down. Jen did well.
We then continued the hike down, and it was getting a little dark; so I decided we would just skip the final rappel. We were going to do it again in two days anyway, and I wanted to have someone at the top to check Jen's setup and give pointers, as well as someone at the bottom for a fireman's belay for safety. We hiked out to her car at the Boulder Falls
parking lot. We then changed, drove around and got my Jeep. A good evening, and two new drop in points to explore at
a later time!
A canyoneering friend from Michigan, Don, was in town, and he wanted to hit a canyon. The obvious choice is Dream Canyon; a short canyon just outside of Boulder that is a really fun Class C (moving water) canyon, which ends up rappelling through Boulder Falls. Boulder Falls is a tourist attraction, so there are usually a gaggle of gawking tourists for the final rappel. It was a perfect choice because of it's close location and because Don had never done a class C canyon before.
I was loaning out a bunch of gear, so those folks met me at 3:45pm down lower in Boulder canyon. I handed out the gear to them, and then the rest of the canyoneers met us at 4pm. We then carpooled to the Boulder Falls parking lot. We met up with some of the normal Wednesday climbing group there; but it was raining pretty hard, so it looked like we chose the right activity for the day. There were seven of us to start; Don, Jen, Leah, Jonas, Mark, Stuart and myself.
NOTE: Normally, you wouldn't even think of going into a canyon when it was raining, especially raining hard; due to a possible flash flood. However, I've done Dream Canyon many times before (including just two days and two weeks prior), and know the canyon well. There are escapes in many places if necessary.
We started to discuss class C canyoneering tips; including hand signals at the parking lot, because you can't hear anything over the roar of the water in most class C canyons. During the discussion, there was some thunder and it started to hail. Lovely! (Yes, sarcasm.) We also went over some class C canyoneering techniques, as there were some people that were new to class C canyoneering.
By the time we were done with the discussion, the hail stopped, and the lightning was still several miles away, so we hiked up to the base of the final rappel, Boulder Falls, to take a look. The water level was definitely up higher. Significantly higher (and warmer) than even two days ago; when I was scouting some new possible entries to Dream Canyon higher up the canyon. The water was cloudier than normal too; from the run-off of yesterday's and the current rain. The air and water temperature was still pretty warm though, so we continued to upclimb the canyon, and didn't bother putting on our wetsuits yet.
Dream can be done from the top with a car shuttle, or by upclimbing from the bottom. Personally, I think it's kind of a wash as far as timeframe for either approach; as it's a 9 mile drive up and around mountain roads to get to the upper lot, then you scramble down a cliff area to get to the river. Afterwards, you need to drive around to pick up the shuttle vehicle too. Since it's only around a half of a mile hike up the river, it's probably around the same amount of time either way; but you get more canyon time doing the upclimb. Since we had some less experienced folks with us, I decided to upclimb it from the bottom so they could get more practice and feel the power of the river. It's easier to learn from an upclimb, with less chance of getting swept and/or injured.
We started our ascent around 4:45pm, and climbed up past the normal drop in point. It stopped raining around the drop in point; Nice! There were some really fun obstacles and falls above the normal drop in. I'm planning on coming back at a later time and exploring even further up (either upclimbing or from one of the drop in points we scouted a couple of days ago.) We turned around about 6:30pm, put on our wetsuits, and started heading down. We met up with Ben and Heather on the way down, so now we had 9 people. We played at several sections, did a lot of partner assists, and I gave some pointers on reading the water patterns. The water was strong enough where you definitely had to pay attention, but still very fun. We got to the first rap around 7:30pm; I was a little surprised at how dark it was getting already. It was light just a couple of days ago until around 9pm; so it was due to the cloud cover.
The first rap was fun, the falls are broken in two, and it's not a huge hit of water for this one. It's a short drop too, so a good training rappel. After everyone rapped, Don and I upclimbed the other side of the watercourse. A fun and challenging upclimb! We then cleared the anchor, and downclimbed the same area we upclimbed.
There are some more fun obstacles on the way down, and a small jump. This then led to the final rappel. It was now around 8:15pm, and the light was fading quickly. No real issue as everyone had headlamps, and our cars were only a couple hundred yards past the falls. We could also just hike around the falls if we wanted to, but chose to rap through. Most people got down during the fleeting daylight. I went last, and turned on my headlamp for a show. Mark and Stuart climbed back up and around to retrieve our anchor material, and we were all back at the cars a little after 9pm.
The last rappel through Boulder Falls was really moving. You got hit by water pretty good for most of the rappel down. It was the second highest water level that I had ever done the canyon in. Great stuff. The water level made for some fun challenges, both on the rappels, and on the obstacles higher up in the canyon. Everyone had a great time and did great, and I'm looking forward to heading there again soon...
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