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Old 01-12-2011   #1
GearDog's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 397
Lower Taos Box Rafter Wanted.

I'm planning a trip with 3 couples to run the Lower Taos Box and Pilar on the Rio Grande in New Mexico sometime during the month of March, weather/flow dependent.

We (6) would all be driving from the Front Range in Colorado. We are all kayakers, but the 3 Ladies would like to ride/paddle on a raft when we run the Lower Taos Box.

Tentatively we would drive and camp out on a Friday, run with a raft Saturday on the Lower Taos Box and then Sunday we would all (6) kayak Pilar.

We are in need of a rafter, with all necessary equipment, that would be willing to taking 3 ladies down the Lower Taos Box. The raft could either be an oar ridge or a paddle raft - R4.

Please feel free to post/text/call me anytime.

Thanks, Lenny.

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Old 01-13-2011   #2
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
hey, I have no Idea if I can actually make it out with you all, pending work schedules with jobs, and needing a dry suit... but I am familiar with the Rio, and can point you in the direction of some NM folks if I cant go. Santa Fe Rafting is starting to be more and more part time for me, (like pretty much box season only) but I have some years with them, and can get rentals or figure out an early season trip or somethin... It will be pretty cold and pretty moderate flow in march. well, cold for us new
I am pretty psyched to kayak the box soon, since I finally got a good ride finally.
And the pilar section is plenty boatable and a fun time even at low water.
good luck with the trip

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Old 01-13-2011   #3
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95
How Boatable?


I am looking to take a 14 foot oar rig down the racecourse the 3rd week of you think we will be able to get down it easily? Will it be worth it? Thanks.

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Old 01-13-2011   #4
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 594
well its possible, but not fun at low water. >400-500 only the slot at big Rocks would be a problem. above 600 the slot is pretty much under water.
(the slot is a L to R move inbetween two ledges that requires a serious tube stand highside as its only about 4-5' wide.) We used to take 13-14' 7-8' wide Achilles through at 200cfs but that is paddle captaining, and like I said, not fun because of all the other shallow shoals, and F#$k me rocks..
I would personally save the gear boat for above 800-1000cfs, and rent duckies or kayak it at low water. Or get a 11-12' little guy which is what the outfitters here do for low'll have a lot more fun that way. there's lots of little slot moves, and only one hard move, (once again- the big rocks slot..Class III+ move with a nasty little cave under cut on the downstream side, and if you dont go river R, the L side is called the toilet bowl, which is the high water sketchy spot at big rocks. same rapid but you worry about L or R depending on the water level.) some people will sandbag it...(RC is mostly II at lowwater) but there is consequence, so its the only spot thats a mandatory scout. its after the low wooden bridge, halfway down from Pilar and easily scouted from the road. Look for the HUGE boulder and the other 'big rocks' in the Rio. its all roadside.

FWIW- I have rowed the box at 800cfs,(in a 12' Pioneer w/ 8' oars) and had two trouble spots up there, (powerline with the oars, and Rockgarden with rowing the line L-R.) to me they're much simpler to paddle captain. (til the water goes up. or the Chama flows) but I am not a rowing expert. there are much better than I out rowing the Rio.
Its too shallow and technical below 700 for the Box, and prolly 600 for the RC.
hope that helps! ...and once again theres local companies to rent duckies or a 12' raft if need be. Far flung is right in Pilar, and New Wave, and SFR is in Santa Fe. :]
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Old 01-13-2011   #5
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95
Thanks, Great Info..

Thanks again, that is excelent info that really helps.

We also have ducks, and will probably just plan to take them. Will be watching the water, and will take your advice about keeping the boat away from all that carnage if the flow is simply too low.

Great info though. Thanks.

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Old 01-13-2011   #6
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 594
You will have a Lot more fun in a little boat. I expect it to be 400-600 in march. thats the level all winter, pretty much. CO keeps more for irrigation in the summer, and allows more flows for NM Tx , and Mex in the winter. gotta swamp them fields for the Coors rice!
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Old 01-13-2011   #7
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95

And that flow is still plenty do-able in ducks?

Would you recomend we do the racecourse or the box section?

We have actually much more experience in our ducks than in our raft, so we are comfortable 3/4 boaters in the ducks. We also have all the good gear to keep us warm...

What kinda time do both of these runs take at that flow?

Thanks again for all the great info, there is a limited amount here on the buzz already about those topics.

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Old 01-13-2011   #8
Abron Cabron
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Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico
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Posts: 594
The general consensus as far as I know is
RC good down to 200cfs for jonsing locals just to go splat rocks and do rolls,
300and up is normal low water... same thing can get wet and surf a little at sleeping beauty.
700-1500 a average to good runoff and definitely worth it
2000cfs and up... yeehaw.

600-700cfs commercial cutoff. people do lowH20 runs of course, but its a long day, and very technical for a raft. Rock garden has a nasty sieve/ rock fence called the northwest passage/three sisters that you have to ferry right above. its the only lowh20 raft line.
guide book (and sensible) cutoff = 800cfs.
1000cfs and up the box is really fun III+ & IV. Rowable above 1000cfs no problem in a 14'. its still a small river, but good to go.

RC= 6 miles 1-3 hours;
Box = 17 miles 4-6 hours (start early and plan for cold boater butt and consider the upstream wind)

The safest way to approach the LTB is as wilderness run, to go with someone who Knows the lines, and carries good first aid,pin, and sweep gear. It is truly a 600' deep box canyon with no easy egress for probably 13-14 miles of the 17. (unless you like poison ivy, loose scree and soloing chossy basalt to get to a mesa top 5-10 miles walk from Taos)
Two boat trips are a good for safety, and starting by 1000 to get out before dark. High water runs can be 3-4 hours, but normal would 4-6 with scouting and lunch.
LTB is 12 miles of class II with a rapid every now and then, and 5-6 miles of class III+ and IV.
The flatwater is not pleasant for playboats. It hurts. river runner or Creek boat is the way to go for comfort and (and For me for the safety )
It is a beautiful, one of a kind daytrip, but I would tag along with another trip or catch a ride with a commercial trip to learn the lines, and have lunch, safety, and shuttle taken care of.
speaking of shuttle...allow 1 hour to take care of it, or call Pilar Yacht club for their shuttle.(in season) (505-758-9072) Private trips should meet a the take out, and go up the west side of the river by Carson and back across the Gorge bridge to Arroyo Hondo. that road on top of the mesa is paved now, so its a lot better. saves about 1/2 hour on the shuttle.
Now here's the real goods:
Old testament: Colorado Rivers & Creeks (9780964539952): Gordon Banks, Dave Eckardt: Books
New Testament: Whitewater of the Southern Rockies (9780979264405): Evan Stafford and Kyle McCutchen: Books
River Gypsy's guide to North America (and Mexico!) : river gypsy guide to north america: Books
all three books are so worth owning. months of reading for the can
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Old 01-14-2011   #9
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95

Thanks a lot,

Tons of info here...

We will most likely plan on bringing the ducks and doing the race-course. It sounds right up our alley and since it will be early season, I doubt if the water level, or other boaters would make the LTB do-able.

We were just talking that now we have the raft we never use them duckies any-more so she's pumped at the idea of a fun and challenging run in them.

One of these days I know we will get on the LTB but I would feel much more comfortable following an experienced boat with folks who have been there done that. I understand the remote-ness and lack of safety options down there. That is just over our heads for this time of our careers, but there is always next season. For the past three seasons we have been adding to our resume, and this is definately on the to-do list...looks awesome.

Thanks again for all your info and advice. I will most definately check into those books. Looks like great reading and the "shitter scout" is always a must.

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Old 01-15-2011   #10
Austin, Texas
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 136
The new paved rd. on the West side
is the way to go for sure!
You will love the Gorge. I have run it over a hundred times, but have never been that early in the year.
If you can you should try to hit it around mid may to early June. 1000 and up is fun, 1400 + will challenge a med skilled boater.
Super fun trip. I think it was last year they had released a new heard of Big Horn sheep in the LTB Canyon. If you go that early in the season you will see lots of them.
Even on a busy wknd you'll see some if you are looking. Good place to camp is at the take out on the LTB. Don't leave your car at the put in over night!!
Have fun!

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rafter, wanted

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