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Old 05-19-2005   #1
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 41
Upper and Lower Taos Box

Can anyone give me any insight on how the upper box is at the current level? CRC2 rates it a V over 800 but the flow is labeled as green just over 3,000 on Phateye. Not the "bring your dancing shoes" color green.

Also, can I hop on with anyone running either or both this weekend. Please call me as I am taking off early tommorrow to head down. 720-273-8636.


Johnny P
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Old 05-19-2005   #2
Repa's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 75
Though I have never seen the UTB personally at its current level I can tell you one's MEATY very MEATY right now. If it gets much higher I'd stay away. Food for thought...It's expected to reach levels of 5000 this year. I know a VERY accomplished paddler (a true blue sick bird with gills) who went in there solo at similar levels to 5000 and said that he would never do so again (saw God etc).

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Old 05-19-2005   #3
Tim Kennedy
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Avon, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 106
Upper and Lower Box opinions

I've only paddled the Upper Box three times (1000,1100, and 1350 cfs) and the lower box once (1500-ish cfs). But here's my thoughts.

I feel that the Upper Box would be kinda pushy above 1500 cfs. Most of the rapids are like Kirschbaum in Gore with a few Pyrite, Scissors type drops thrown in the middle/top/bottom of them or Barrel Springs-ish. At 1350 cfs, we could read and run a good bit of it, but got out to scout five or so times. We walked NCO falls and Big Arsenic. If I was a little more familiar/comfortable with the run, both drops might go. The run to the Little Arsenic trail took us two and a half hours or so. At the current flow, be prepared for "game-on" style paddling. Lots of big waves, fast current, sticky holes, true scrambling class V paddling (and a nice sweaty 50 minute hike out after Little Arsenic if you don't want to paddle the 7 miles of flatwater to Dunn Bridge, but it's a short shuttle). If you've not run it before, prepare for a long day. I would put it a notch above Gore Canyon in difficulty at similar flows. But, maybe that's because I know Gore better than the Upper Box.

The Lower Box is considerably easier. Mostly moving flatwater with some down the middle class II-III and three or four class IV-ish rapids towards the end. Easily scoutable, no consequenses below most of them. The one rapid on the Lower Box that is close to the rapids on the Upper is Rock Garden (just throw some pourovers and ledges into the middle of it).

I think that the Pilar section would have some great on-the-fly playboating at it's current level, but would be a quick roadside run (four miles or so).

It seems with all the warm weather, the river levels are going richter down there right now and rising quick. I wouldn't venture into the Upper Box unless you are comfortable with Gore Canyon above 2000cfs. I don't imagine there's a level that's too high for the Lower Box or Pilar. All of the creeks except maybe the Red River are pretty stompin, right now as well.

Have fun!
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Old 05-20-2005   #4
badkins's Avatar
Laramie, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 488
If you drive to the upper box you can park right where the power lines are and take a short hike to the rim. Right there you've got a perfect birds-eye view of the first 3 rapids, Powerline/NCO/Hell Hole. That's as close as I want to get to it right now... I've been told by a local sicko that from 2-3 grand the waves and holes are huge but the sieve factor is almost gone.
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Old 05-20-2005   #5
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 5
At 1800 the rapids start running together and what was slack water before at 1000 is cruising at 1800. I love the box at 1000! At 1800 it was definitly a bit much. We portaged 2 times.
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Old 05-20-2005   #6
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 475
keeping it real

Friend, how good a boater are you? The UTB is a wonderful place. However, at flows from 1700 and up , it takes on true class V to V+ respectability. It is fun, but you should have a strong team and set up safety in most places. At 2500cfs I remember being cartwheeled all the way through several rapids, never being able to see what I was falling into next. Fortunately, the sieves are filled in and do allow being flushed and pushed through ... hopefully. Hell Hole, Little and Big Arsnic are horrendous. So is everything else, though. It's all good for the qualified boater. Todd Hebblewhite soloed it at 4000 back in '84, the day before soloing the first descent of the Embudo at 500cfs. Granted, he was legendary, but neither rattled him too much. (He met his doom from a drunk driver, not the rivers.) THE UTB is certainly an exciting and rewarding gorge to conquer if you are up for it. It is one of my top five favorite places. Though not a local, I have boated it 30+ times from 400 to 2500 levels. The place is mystical, spiritual, and rejuvinating to the soul. If you go, be relaxed, confident, safe,and enjoy the rewards. Cheers!

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