The river today came up to 1400, it must mean Vallecito reservoir is spilling, and it seemed like the time to go espesh as no barbwire across river was reported here and a good access was identified at the Pine River Ranches plat.
Access at PRR was good, hopefully it will stay that way. However there was wire across the river which proved problematic in my 14' Dagger open.
Regardless, this 'lower-lower' section is quite good, as far as I made it at least! It's fast, so the surfing might not be great but there were at least half a dozen decent play holes in the first two miles. Maneuvering around pour overs in one rapid and the continuousnous make this a solid 3 at this level. I was reminded quite a bit of the Mesa run on the San Juan.
That wire fence could be nasty - it's strong down from a large permanent cable - so that it's above the water where you can get under the cable and under the water where the cable is too low to go under. I flipped in a steep gravel bar type of situation partly distracted, partly messed up, partly fillled with water from the previous rapid, partly heading for shore.
I ended up letting the boat go through, hiking down to follow it.
I saw one more obstacle, a gas pipeline about 12 inches above the water, also with a fast water lead-in.
About a mile down, at the first ranch bridge, I noticed red lights flashing - turns out the boat caught just downstream above an irrigation intake. The Upper Pine River Fire, La Plata Sherriff and Bayfield Police were all there, as well as ranch folks - maybe 30 people in total.
So much for healing my shame in private.
Everybody was very helpful and hopefully I made a good case for opening up this prime stretch of intermediate whitewater.
This is definitely still a project river and hopefully wire will get taken down in Season as it gets more use. Lower water is recommended for a first descent of the water (fence?) year, but experienced decked boaters won't have problems at any level.
Remember, the goal is to make friends and get this river opened! And thanks again to La Plata Public Safety.