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Old 05-11-2005   #1
Caspian's Avatar
Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882
Piedra beta, por favor

Got a crew planning to head down there next weekend from Denver, Frisco and Steamboat (send a PM if you're interested in joining the posse). None of us have done the Piedra, but we're all seasoned Bailey guys. I've already seen the thread about wood in Eye of the Needle.

On to the question - what kind of water is the Piedra? It sounds like pool-drop class IV with a couple Vs...

*Is it pool-drop or continuous?
*Playboat or creekboat? (most of us don't playboat Gore)
*How long to run the whole 19 miles, scouting bigger stuff?
*Are we likely to get shafted for a campsite at the takeout if we show up late Friday night?
*AW lists the max level at 1500 - what's it like at above that, say, 2100 like today?

Thanks for the info, we're looking forward to a good time.


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Old 05-12-2005   #2
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 808
Its a great run. You'll love it. There is only about 5-6 sizeable drops and the rest is fast class 2-3. The big drops are in the gorges. The second gorge is definitely tougher than the first and is possibly the best big water class 4 in CO. There are pools/eddies between all of the big drops so you're not going to get flushed into any of them accidentally. You'll know when you need to scout. Basically the drops are all 4-4+ except for the big class 5 ass kicker at the end of the second gorge. With the exception of the big one, the rapids are pushy w/some big holes but non-consequential. We did it at 1900 but I don't think that a change in the water level would make that much difference. You could take a playboat and be fine but I took my creeker and was happy w/the decision. Its a long day, the water is cold, and there aren't really any good playspots until the takeout. Took us 4:15 to run it and we didn't know it so we had to scout a couple drops. There are quite a few campsites at the takeout and they were all empty last weekend (but it was freezing-ass cold). Its a sweet river- enjoy.

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Old 05-12-2005   #3
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 30
I did the run with jmack last weekend and he is right on the money. It is one of the 3 best class IV-IV+ runs in the state!! In my opinion a creek boat is the call just to stay dry and helps you cover 19 miles in a reasonable amount of time. The water is COLD but the scenery is priceless!! An isolated canyon with Northern California type scenery that is hard to beat.

The first gorge has one notable rapid but is a straight shot, read-and-run.

The second gorge starts with a long left hand turn rapid that does not really need scouting but is fast and pushy. Eddie out on the right above the next drop where the rapid splits into a left and right channel. The left line is clean, fast IV+ with a nice pool at the bottom. The right line is an 8 foot drop into a sizeable hole. A STRONG boof cleans it but a missed boof or "pencil drop" and this hole will have a little something waiting for you.

The next drop is Mudslide and is 100% Class V. I have seen other rapids in the state listed as Class V that do not bring as much to the table as this one. I walked it this day as it was only 40 degrees and the hole looked to be a keeper. The logs below didn't boost my confidence, either. A warmer day and a strong safety crew and this rapid would fun/exciting!
Below Mudslide are 3 channels with the middle channel and right channel absolutely unrunnable (logs!). Big thanks to the crew that chain-sawed the logs in the left channel or an ugly portage would take place. A strong ferry to the left side and you're home free.

The water is continuous with NO FLAT WATER which is another added bonus. This run a definately a Colorado MUST DO!!

Caspian, give me a ring if you are headed down this weekend as I think we have a crew interested as well. 303-475-4909

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Old 05-12-2005   #4
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 8
i ran it a few weeks ago in april when it was up well over 3000. we portaged the two mudslide rapids....the upper one had a clean line left, but the hole in river center was an eight foot vertical drop over a massive boulder with a huge, powerful recirculation that butted up against another nasty you get screwed in the hole or pinned against a rock if you mess up the narrow line on the left. to be honest, it looked like a pretty easy place to drown...i looked at pics on aw website and it didn't look nearly as bad at lower levels though...but definately scout it. (look for the slide river right...relatively recent (5-10 years ago)...with no trees growing on it.)

the second drop (soon after the first) was unrunnable in our opinion (at 3000+) reasonable line of predictable safety. we portaged that too...and put in right below it...for a fast (and boney) class iv read and run section. be on your toes the whole time.

it's a fun washout like folks said...don't be fooled like we were though...there were still some mean, sticky holes waiting...i ran the perfect line the whole day and got truly humbled by a class three hole...swam...lost paddle...skirt ripped off and lost as i ended up body surfing the hole for a bit...and it was a long swim and a difficult boat rescue...there were no eddies... just goes to show that the river doesn't give a rat's ass about a boater's talent...just our humility.

as for camping, there are a lot of places if you're not too picky...meanign sleeping right on the hard packed dirt with rounded rocks all over the place. we camped river left, but when we checked things out in the morning, it looked like sweet camping on river right. be warned...the firepit next to the big rock looks sweet, but the wind will blow smoke in your face the whole time... just a head's up.

have fun...peace, c
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Old 05-17-2005   #5
latenightjoneser's Avatar
steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 418
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Old 05-17-2005   #6
cosurfgod's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 384
Ran it last year at 2200 cfs in a playboat and it was good to go. A little squirlly at times and I did not run the eye. There are the few drops that are class IV not IV+. I would take a creek boat for warmth and speed. You can get it done in a playboat but the lines are easier in a creeker/riverrunner. As far as the camping, I have never camped (live in Durango) but I would not think it would fill up. Does anyone what to go tomarrow (5/1? Give me a call 970-749-1789.

I hope this helps
Creek Boaters Like Tight Boxes
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Old 05-17-2005   #7
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 57
What about Camping at Piedra takeout Memorial Weekend

Going to thave a crew down there Memorial Weekend. We're planning on camping at the nice National Forest (I think) campground at the takeout friday and Sat night of Memorial Weekend. Planning on running the Piedra on Sat the 28th. I imagine you need to make advandanced reservations for this campground. Any suggestions or phone #'s that I can contact, or other close places to camp. Also if your a non boater, can you hike to the hot springs near the end of the run? Thanks in advance!

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Old 05-17-2005   #8
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 20
Stepping it up this spring

Howdy. I am looking to paddle the Piedra this spring. Im a 3+,(developing)4 paddler and looking to challenge or scare myself abit. Anybody looking to run it (Piedra) when its a little lower and willing to assist the "entertainment". The Animas and Taos box on the list too for this spring. Can I come play, huh, huh? KT
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Old 05-17-2005   #9
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
go now. the higher the better.

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Old 05-17-2005   #10
Father of illegitimate San Juan sasquatch children, Climax. CO
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 211
-You cannot make reservations for the campground at the take out. It's not cheif hosa campground after a phish concert. Different world down here with no people. Check the pagosa distrrict ranger station to see if they are going to open the road to the mid-run campgrround.
- the water will probably be up enough that the hot pools will be drowned. I have never stopped for them but i think that you need it to be less than 1200. Maybe less than that. Only run it twice under 1200 anyway.
-Be prepared for lots of water in a tight place when it gorges up. If someone is not ready they could swim for a while. had some friends chase a boat for nine miles at 3200. Mostly class IV fun as hell, hold onto your ass. I have come to realize that over 2000 there will be mandatory subs in my micro 230 but that is what makes that boat fun. you'll have a blast.
-some are planning on thursday leaving dur at 12 noon if anyone interested?

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