Toltec Gorge - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-01-2012   #1
rivervibe's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
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Toltec Gorge

I'm not putting this thread in the Trip Planning section as I'm not looking for people and I'm not in any kind of real planning phase. This is not yet a run.

That said, what do folks know about this obscure Northern New Mexico creek? All I know is from the CRC and I drive right near it going to the Rio Grande all the time.

I've decided to stop by and try to truck scout it out sometime next week. Any beta? Any old stories? Epics?

At the very least I'll share what I can find when I get back.


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Old 04-02-2012   #2
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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From the WWSR, "The Toltec Gorge isn't a very friendly place. The partially runnable and marginally portageable section drops 500 fpm, is hard to move around in, and far from prepared for rugged terrain, technical portages with ropes, and a tedious paddle out." Says access is below the Osier train stop, and the takeout at a campground on FR 284.

The old book "New Mexico Whitewater, A Guide to River Trips", says there is a 10 mile, class III run from the campground on FR 284 to the confluence with the Rio San Antonio. This book is almost 30 years old though....
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Old 04-02-2012   #3
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I lack personal experience with this one. A few paddlers with skills that I respect greatly had quite the epic a few years ago... essentially getting over nighted I believe, but they spent all night hiking out. Depends on your definition I guess.

One of them told me something like, "I wish I could run those drops." They may have had too much water.

It seems that a strong group with the right water levels and knowledge could find some serious winning in the gorged sections, but perhaps not. The area is gorgeous and the nearby runs offer quality adventures, thus it seems this is still worth exploring, with the right mindset and preparation.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 04-02-2012   #4
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
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The old Taos crew had their go with it back in the 80s. I don't recall all the details shared, but I do recall they each sounded unanimous in suggesting it was not worth the pain suffered and the risk did not out weigh the reward. They expressed not wanting to ever do it again or recommend it for anyone. Yes, boats have improved, but the caliber of boaters has not. If it was considered unwise by them, their advice should be considered still today. Just throwing that out there because I noticed your thread here and in case those guys don't reply. As tempting as it sounds in the guide books, I recall I was convinced it is unnecessary for me to consider the idea of it any further.

Just sharing some has been humble pie.

No risk, no reward. It is not that we have to, it is that we get to. Preparation and education are essential to self-confidence and success. - KV
"If there is no risk there is no adventure."- Bill Briggs
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Old 04-02-2012   #5
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waynechorter put some pics up in the gallery a number of years back, do some searching/digging and im sure youll find them.

A lot of stuff is runnable by certain people on certain days. Not calling out the taos crew, because theose guys are hard core, but just because they didnt like it doesnt mean its the end all. I disagree that the caliber of boaters hadnt improved; some of the crews roaming the planet today like river roots, demshitz, and the clear h20 boys, just to name a few, are running harder stuff elsewhere and making it look good too. I think boater skill has improved right along with the technological advents.

Again, not calling anyone out here. the toltec is certainly one incredibly wild place, and i hope one day i can do the summer low flow canyoneering tour so i can get to appreciate it, because it is not very high on my boating list to say the least. Major props to anyone whos dropped in befoe, or wil drop in in the future, because that shit does look burly in there.
"Don't f$&@ing eddy out, just run it! Whaddya doin??" -LMyers
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Old 04-02-2012   #6
Father of illegitimate San Juan sasquatch children, Climax. CO
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I talked to one of the crew (JJ) who went in during '05 that Kyle is talking about. They definately had more than enough water. As a guage, I think treasure was running close to 1200-1350? Maybe more?
The problem was that all the good drops (which were few) had way to much water and thus unrunnable. The other in between drops had way to much water and were still pushy, bony, and junk. So, they got to the big waterfall pictured in CRC II with a couple pins and close calls. You know, it was like one guy would run something marginally. The other guys would see it and portage. I think they jugged out boats from the lip of the big falls up a short cliff and then were able to hike out like Kyle said. The collective agreement was that it was not worth the time when the brazos was more quality for less work. All agreed it was an epic. Of course, they did not make it through the gorge and may have missed out on some things. Hope that helps, JW
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Old 04-02-2012   #7
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Thanks everyone for all the stories. I'm still going to go look at it soon and will report what I find. It's always fun to explore around and see what's out there. The possibilities abound!

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Old 04-03-2012   #8
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I hiked in to Toltec before and looked at it. Its beautiful and a great hike/adventure especially in the fall and cool part of NM/CO that not a lot of people see besides on the train. IMO, the geology is not really the type of rock that makes good rapids clean rapids, especially in the cruz section. Will someone make it down without pinning/breaking boats, flip a coin enough times and I'm sure one or two will. But its its nowhere near as clean as the Brazos, which also has plenty of mank.

I've talked to the some of guys who were checking it out back 20 years ago and they had similar comments. Ironically, some of them didn't think Pandora's was all that good 20 years ago either and IMO that's one of the top runs in Colorado.
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