Salt River AZ or Gila River NM multi-day, any Betas? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 12-03-2007   #1
 
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Salt River AZ or Gila River NM multi-day, any Betas?

I'm planning a trip for a group of relative beginners for a multi-day kayaking trip. I want to do either the Salt River AZ or camp outside of Lordsburg NM and run three different sections of the Gila. I've read the Beta's in the New Testament but I was hoping for some advice on this one.
Any info on either of the rivers would be much appreciated.

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Old 12-03-2007   #2
 
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Sorry, we're going mid-March
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Old 12-03-2007   #3
 
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Not familiar with the Gila, but the Salt has some stretches that are not beginner friendly. Also watch for huge surges, if they get some rain on a decent snow pack. a year or two ago it spiked up near 20-30K while a group was in there. Sounded pretty scary.
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Old 12-03-2007   #4
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I suggest trip leaders should normally have done the trip first so they know if a group of beginners can handle it. I would propose that beginners should not be kayaking the salt.
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Old 12-03-2007   #5
 
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Rafting

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Originally Posted by mania View Post
I suggest trip leaders should normally have done the trip first so they know if a group of beginners can handle it. I would propose that beginners should not be kayaking the salt.
So beginners in kayaks isn't a go. What about just a straight rafting trip on the Salt? Is is something for a guided tour or could a couple of river-experienced oarsmen handle it?
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Old 12-04-2007   #6
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Originally Posted by tuckermax View Post
So beginners in kayaks isn't a go. What about just a straight rafting trip on the Salt? Is is something for a guided tour or could a couple of river-experienced oarsmen handle it?
Well I didn't say its not a go, just my opinion. maybe some others here have a different opinion? Any experienced person who can kayak or row class III to IV should have not much trouble. Just remember its remote. You would hate to have beginners lose their boat and have to hike out or hitch a ride from a pirate raft crew with guns and swords.
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Old 12-04-2007   #7
 
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Gila

Of the two sections of the Gila I have done, I would suggest the Middle Box for a beginner over the Wilderness section.
The Middle Box is shorter, has a very cool box canyon and depending on water level is class III +or- . The shuttle is very long though you can camp near the put in if you want to do the shuttle the day before.
The wilderness run doesn't have the rapids of the Middle Box but it would be difficult to do in one day because of its length. Also the fact that there can be a ton of wood sieves coupled by many blind 90 degree turns, beginners would likely be wise to scout for what is around the corner. If it is low this might not be a problem but above 1000 cfs it is possible to get washed into a down tree if you arent paying attention.
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Old 12-04-2007   #8
 
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Gila River

I grew up less than a half mile from the Gila river in small town New Mexico. My parents still live there. I'm going to do a trip there in the spring, hopefully. I spent most of my childhood and adolescent years floating, fishing, and swimming this river. The Gila is a beautiful river but can be very remote in some areas (the wilderness section and the middle box). It would be a good idea to have somebody who has done these runs before. Anything between 250 cfs and 1,000 would be good. Watch out for strainers, root clumps, fences, irrigation diversions, etc. Also, check into public and private land ownership on the middle box.

The major obstacle on the Gila is the flow. The flow is very inconsistent/unpredictable and depends on recent precipitation (usually rain instead of snow). Some years provide good snow pack resulting in a more normal runoff in March and April. If there is little snow or a drought year, you basically need to time a heavy rainstorm that could occur anytime. With this latest storm, the Gila ran at sevral thousand cfs, but has already dropped to appox. 600 cfs today. It happens quickly and is very hard to time a trip. It was much easier when I lived there.

Be very careful with flash flooding. I have seen this river run as high as 14,000 cfs. A couple years ago it peaked in a January rainstorm (on top of snow) at 20,000 cfs. There were lots of cottonwoodd trees, dead farm animals, and all other types of debris floating down river. A good rainstorm in the mountains could mean the difference of sevral thousand cfs. Check the weather and be careful.

The middle box has more difficult water but is only 18 miles long. The wilderness section is 30 some miles in length and has less whitewater, but is super remote. If you have an accident in there, your group could be facing an epic hike and or rescue.

Overall, its a tough trip to make happen if you're not a local. Although, it's a great river with beautiful scenary.

Hope this helps,
bs
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Old 03-17-2008   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuckermax View Post
I'm planning a trip for a group of relative beginners Any info on either of the rivers would be much appreciated.
Have a lot of Gila stuff on my web site, including a TR for the wilderness section:
PaddleOn - Southwest Float Trips
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