The Gila and the Maranon - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 10-16-2014   #1
 
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
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The Gila and the Maranon

First the Maranon - Some call it the "Grand Canyon of South America" it is the headwaters of the Amazon flowing down the Andes mountains in Peru. I'm jazzed to be headed there in a couple weeks to run it with Sierrarios, a 30 day trip. Spots just opened up, especially for kayakers, if anyone wants to come - we launch October 29!! The reason there are extra spots is because some of my friends had to bail in the last couple of weeks, in order to try and save the Gila.

The Gila is a river in Southwest New Mexico with one of the most amazing wilderness runs in the world if you can catch the rare runnable flow. In New Mexico it is still free flowing, most of the year it runs under 100 CFS, but it drains an enormous wilderness area so it can flood at over 30,000 CFS or more. I found a window last year to . There are no Tamarisk, the riparian area has willows and beautiful sycamore trees - it's just an amazing place!

Sadly, the Gila is now threatened with a ridiculous billion dollar diversion to be placed between Turkey Creek and Mogollon creek complete with aqueducts adhered to the cliffs to divert water to arroyos in order to attempt to divert at most 10,000 acre feet a year (but since there's no divertable flow over 45% of years on record it'd average closer to 5,000 acre feet per year, which would not be storable because it would just seep into the ground).

I digress, there's plenty of info out there about the misguided Gila diversion scheme. I'll skip to why this opened spots on the Maranon trip. My friend Norm Gaume, who is a retired water engineer and former head of the NM Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) has now filed a lawsuit against the current ISC regarding their conduct in not allowing public access to their meetings regarding the Gila diversion matter.

His friends Peter and Jim are also working with Norm to help prevent the Gila diversion (decision by the NM ISC is due by the end of 2014) and so now there's open spots on my Maranon trip!

If you're interested in the Maranon look up SierraRios: Kayak, Raft, and Protect Rivers in Mexico and Peru and you will quickly learn that Rocky Contos, who created SierraRios, is running the Maranon trips to try to save that river as well. I support that effort. Not just for the loss of such an amazing canyon and soon to be submerged villages in Peru, but also because the extent of the dams currently proposed for the Andean headwaters of the Amazon are such that if they were all actually built, the complete collapse of the river ecosystem of the Amazon would be inevitable.

Sadly it seems there are rivers threatened everywhere and constantly.

All I have to say to all that is, fuck it - let's go rafting!! Come play on the Maranon if you can!!!

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Old 10-17-2014   #2
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Good video. Looks beautiful. Was that the whole wilderness run in 2 days?
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Old 10-17-2014   #3
 
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3 nights

I believe we spent 3 nights on the river - the wilderness section is 44 miles and portages are to be expected, flows are difficult to predict, etc.. I'd try and plan on 3 nights/4 days or possibly more if possible - if the Gila is flowing it would be silly to rush through as you might not get another runnable flow for years...
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Old 10-18-2014   #4
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Absolutely. No way I would rush it if I made the journey. Just seemed like I only saw 1 camp in the video... Thanks for the info. Definitely on my list. Hope it doesn't get damed or diverted...
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Old 10-18-2014   #5
 
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
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The GoPro batteries died early in the trip, and the spare battery didn't make it in the last minute packing frenzy... Otherwise I would have had even better footage!!
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Old 11-05-2014   #6
 
Cottonwood, Arizona
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Dang! Missed that window - don't remember seeing the Gila come up that high. Wonder if that was from the same storm system that spiked the Aqua Fria to 50,000.(?)
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Old 11-05-2014   #7
 
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Dusto, I see your in Cottonwood. Have you ran the stretches of the Verde upstream from you? Some beautiful terrain that would be very cool to see from a boat. The only accounts I have heard were at low flow.
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Old 11-05-2014   #8
 
Cottonwood, Arizona
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I've run what they call "Box Canyon" which is from Sycamore Creek down to TAPCO. Coincidentally, several boating friends and I are running from Perkinsville Bridge to TAPCO later this month.
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Old 11-06-2014   #9
 
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How's the quality? Any fun rapids? Thanks for any info.
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Old 11-06-2014   #10
 
Bisters, Oregon
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I've always wanted to see the upper Gila. Such beautiful country. I'm going to have to look into that diversion project. Sounds like it would have a massive impact on that unique river. Since this trip was in 2013, it wouldn't have been the same storm that made the Aqua Fria go huge this year. I'm also curious about your experience on the Maronon. Let us know how it goes!
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