Spectacular scenery, combined with strong hydraulics, and lots of play friendly features make this and exceptionally satisfying run for intermediate and advanced paddlers. Would recommend rating change to III+/(IV+) as most of the river plays as a class III+, with one rapid (The Hummer) that has exceptionally powerful hydraulics, but does not require advanced moves in order to successfully run it. The line is center left, and point it straight, at any level. It is also easily portable on the left side. Highly recommended for anyone of intermediate skill or above.
Check in with the Black Hills Paddlers group on Facebook if you are looking to run this section. There are only a couple of local folks who run it as of 5/30/15, but it is an extremely enjoyable section complete with spectacular scenery that is very difficult to access unless you paddle it, or if you own property on it. It is very important to note that the entire run is along either, remote wilderness (which would be very difficult to hike out of), or private property which can come with a variety of reactions should you need to get out of your boat for any reason. Please be very respectful should you encounter any property owners on your journey.
At 100-250 cfs, it paddles as a standard Class III (IV) with very few consequences except for the one drop called "The Hummer", which is a Class IV which can deliver a mean beat-down if you drop into it with a bad line. You can not see the rapid until you drop into it, but the safe and easy line is right down the middle, the set-up for which requires you to paddle left of a medium sized rock on the right about 25 feet above the drop. Scouting it can be done on the right, but it requires either, a willingness to get wet, or a little bit of climbing ability to get past a few rock formations. This is also a great place to stop and take it all in because the scenery here is wonderful, and the sound of the water going over the rapid is fantastic. This rapid can be portaged on the left, but this requires eddying out about 50 yards above the left turn just above the rapid, plowing through a fairly snarly stretch of brush. I actually did it in reverse just to be able to report on it credibly (as well as for the opportunity to run it again, of course).
There are a good number of other fun rapids both above and below The Hummer that generally paddle as Class IIIs. But at levels higher than 500cfs, many of these become much more challenging, and The Hummer becomes a downright beast!
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Combat Rapid at 610 cfs, 6/2/15
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