Dark Canyon/Gypsum Canyon/Cataract Canyon Loop

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Gregg B., Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
    Hey All,
    We are looking to do Dark Canyon up and over to Gypsum Canyon. Then down to Cataract and packraft back to Dark. We have almost two weeks to explore so time is good. I'm a newbie packrafter but not to canyon country. That said I'm hoping for a non-technical route (4th class or 5.0ish at most, we will have 50' of 8mm but that's it). My wife and my dog will be with me. I have a few route questions:
    1. What is the river like from Gypsum down to Dark Canyon? Rapids?
    2. Can we get down to the river from Gypsum and back up Dark with the river being so low?
    3. What is the "Powell Route" in Gypsum?
    4. I've been hearing about "Allen's Book" does anyone have a link to it?

    We did The Maze last year and are looking for another adventure.
    Thanks in advance! I'll post a report when we get back in April.
    Gregg

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  2. slc_dan

    slc_dan Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior

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    Location:
    Salt Lake City
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  3. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
  4. George_Washington_Hayduke

    George_Washington_Hayduke Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Pretty sure everything below Gypsum is flatwater, just beware of the wind, it can be brutal. I packrafted from Clearwater Canyon to Dark Canyon in the wind and it was insane. Big whitecaps and no current
     
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  5. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

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    x2 on wind. I packrafted from Dark down to Hite and it we got hit with 50mph winds. Tumbleweed patches the size of cars flying 50 feet in the air over our heads. 2-3 foot waves pushing us back up canyon. Insane stuff. Do a search over on Mountain Buzz and you can find the most current info on rapids. I believe it is all still flat water though.
     
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  6. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
    Thanks Hayduke!
     
  7. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
    I
    I've read about the wind. We may float at night when it dies down (if we get it). I'll check out Mountain Buzz! Thanks.
     
  8. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

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    Location:
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  9. Kullaberg63

    Kullaberg63 Member

    Messages:
    439
    Location:
    Moab
    No rapids. Done Bowdie to Dark as a packraft loop, if you're interested in hearing about that.
     
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  10. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
  11. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
    I'd love to hear about your trip @Kullaberg63!!!!!
     
  12. Kullaberg63

    Kullaberg63 Member

    Messages:
    439
    Location:
    Moab
    Our Dark to Bowdie loop took 5 days, but we did a time consuming section known as Allen's Crawl.

    You can start your trip from 3 spots: the Fable Valley TH in Beef Basin (4WD), the Fable TH on North Long Point (high clearance), or by heading down the Sundance Trail. The latter adds miles and starts the trip down steep gnar with a heavy pack.

    Exiting Dark to the east is best done via Lean To Canyon. There's an excellent spring 3-4 hrs up. At the head you will have to do some road walking. The Hayduke 'Trail' goes thru here and might utilize a shortcut into Fable Valley. Otherwise it's a long slog on the road up to the proper Fable Valley TH.

    Going thru Fable is easy, with ruins, one of which is rather large, and a good spring. But it's weedy and prickly. The other end is the Beef Basin TH. From here the Gypsum fun starts. I know of at least one BCP member who's descended it, but I forgot his name. I've heard it's a big remote canyon with numerous huge falls requiring long detours. Bowdie, which we did, is supposedly a little technically harder, but not so huge. And it was a full 6 hours+ to get from the middle confluence to the river.

    The paddle stretch is flat water. It's a deep canyon down here and there's lots to look at. The up canyon wind is a pain, but it does not blow 24-7. Mornings are best.

    This is one of the grand loops on the Plateau. It's wild and remote and not to be underestimated. Lean To has a section of fierce bushwhacking. Bowdie and Gypsum are rugged, slow going canyons that demand respect. Dark Canyon Plateau is vast, dry and hard to get to. Outside of hunting season few folks drive out there.
     
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  13. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
    Awesome! Thanks for the intel. It does appear that Gypsum is rarely travelled. I did find the story however. It seems Gypsum is "scrappy".
     
  14. Brendan S

    Brendan S Member

    Messages:
    169
    Location:
    Fruita
    Sounds like everyone has you covered. I’ve done gypsum/bowdie and didn’t have any wind on the float but I was insane and did it in July so I might have lucked out. IIRC the Powell route exits Gypsum to the north pretty close to the river so probably won’t help you much except as a bail route if needed.
     
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  15. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
    Tha
    Thanks @Brendan S. I'm beyond pumped now.
     
  16. Gregg B.

    Gregg B. Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    Tonasket, Washington
    H
    Hey @Brendan S I was thinking last night that any info you may have on Gypsum would be awesome. How was the approach, decent, route etc? Any 5th class stuff? Okay for my dog? Thanks!!!!!!
     
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