Sunday, July 19, 2015

Gunison Gorge: Pre-Trip

Many refer to the Gunnison Gorge as the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. I suppose Black Canyon catches one's attention a little better than Gunnison Gorge. None the less the two parks are right next to each other. The Gunnison Gorge is one of Colorado's premier fly fishing destinations. This 14 miles section of gold medal waters has always caught my attention. With a legendary stonefly hatch, an abundance of large trout, a rugged double canyon of black granite and red sandstone walls, class III and IV white water and experiencing a billion year old canyon. The trip isn't necessarily remote or hard to get to it just takes a little bit of work and light packing. You have two options, pay an outfitter the bucks and have them put the trip together for you or as we did plan to do it yourself. The largest obstacle of the trip is getting all your gear down Chukar Trail. This 1 mile trail is thankfully all down hill but with a hundred pound pack on your back you better be in some decent shape. The bulk of the weight will be your white water raft. I have been researching raft for sometime as I want to start putting together remote wilderness float trips. I knew I wanted a frame-less raft, something that could handle class IV white water, could be packed and transported on a plane and most importantly stand up to any abuse it will be put through on demanding trips. I came across SOAR Canoes, after talking to several owners and the manufacturer I decided on the 14' Canyon model. Just so happens SOAR was running some great specials on some demo boats they had this spring. Weighing in at 62 lbs the rest of the packing had to be light and efficient. This isn't a trip that your going to have many amenities. You pack the essentials and do without the rest for the next 3 days. A few things the BLM does require each boat to carry is a patch/repair kit, first aid kit, extra life vest, extra paddle and wag bags to pack out your waste. I'll break up the other essentials I packed into categories.

Tent with rain fly, pillow, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, head lamp, multi tool/knife (leatherman), chap stick, camera, extra batteries, paracord, small roll of gorilla tape, dry bags to keep your gear from getting wet, have one bag that is designated for trash to pack everything out with you. Water proof sports watch to keep track of time.

Its hot during the day and gets cool at night. I don't like sunscreen so I always wear sun protective clothes. Long pants, long sleeve shirts, sun gloves, buff and a hat. Since your gunna be in some white water and may take a swim leave the Costas at home and pick up a decent cheap pair of polarized sun glasses.

MRE's may not be for everyone but I think they are the easiest way to have a complete meal for the day without worrying about anything. Don't have to boil water to re hydrate the meal and they are sealed in a waterproof pack. They also come with matches, toilet paper and gum in each package. Canteen and filtration pump. I use a MSR filtration pump and make sure to bring some electrolyte mixes. The best is powdered pedialyte, most backpacking store like REI also sell electrolyte tablets in varying flavors. No fires allowed in the Gorge so  bring a jet boil if your going the dehydrated food route.  

10' 4wt and a 9' 5wt are the rods I packed, 3x, 4x, and 5x flouro tippet, 7.5 and 9' 3x leaders, net, split shot, hemostats, dry fly floatant, indicators, and flies. PMDs, Caddis, Yellow Sallys and Hoppers are the primary hatch in July. Best patterns include the classics:  Stimulators, Parachute Adams, Bloom's Paracaddis, Parachute Hoppers, and a variety of PMD patterns for dry flies.  Pat's Rubber Legs, Pheasant Tails, the Mayhem, Juju PMD, Hogan's Red Headed Stepchild, soft hackle Hare's Ear, S.H. Pheasant Tail and the deadly LaFontaine's Caddis Emerger for nymphs.

Repair kit, life vest, pump, tie down straps, paddles, and rod tubes

The most helpful folks that I would like to put a shout out to would be Royal Gorge Anglers, Toads Guide Shop, Gunnison River Pleasure Park, and Black Canyon Anglers. Everyone helped out with flies, fly selection, timing of the trip, shuttle service, sharing knowledge and tips of the Gorge, campsites and information that helped put this trip together.

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