In a good year (mean annual flow = 1240cfs) the rapids on the Dolores River between Cahone, Colorado and Moab, Utah can be successfully navigated by inflatable pack-raft—most of the rapids are class II, with a few notable class IV. In a bad year (50 CFS), and with a 29er, backpacks and panniers lashed to the bow, rafting, as in actually floating, can be a challenge. Over the course of four days, we paddled three different sections of the river, electing to mountain bike beside it for vast stretches because the river was either too shallow11At times, especially as we made our way through Western Colorado, we dragged, pushed and pulled (more than paddled) our packed rafts through less than eighteen inches of water. An eight mile section might take us several hours and force us to repeatedly get into and out of our rafts to navigate around larger rocks and past the wider sections where the flow was diminished and the river more shallow., too rocky, or simply not moving fast enough.
While this campaign was primarily a rock climbing trip in honor of Charlie Flower—Steve Doom Fastbinder and Thaddeus Chico Ferrell would climb ten towers in fourteen days; Monster Woman, Washer Tower, South Six Shooter, Zuse, Moses, Predator, etc.—we spent a considerable amount of time mountain biking and rafting over the course of our circuit around the La Sal Mountains.