Lower Taos Box at 250cfs ? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-15-2018   #1
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
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Lower Taos Box at 250cfs ?

Has anyone here paddled the Lower Box in the summer when it's this low? Everyone says it's not do-able but I'm wondering if it's more a matter of how much suffering and portaging someone is willing to tolerate as opposed to being able to have a clean run.

I've paddled the Rio Grande in Big Bend a few times. Twice I did Santa Elena Canyon when it was below 300cfs when you do what the locals call "the boomerang". That's where you paddle/line/drag/pull upstream into the canyon until you eventually turn around and paddle back downstream, uaually about 8 miles one way.

Is the Lower Box "do-able" if you're prepared to get out a lot and portage or is it actually too hazardous. If it's the former then I'm good with that.

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Old 06-17-2018   #2
 
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I’ve heard people say they go in that low.

Abron from sante fe and some other locals have done it close to that.

I’ve been told that the big 3 get thin and marginally runable, we had to portage power line entrance at 500

I would think the most dangerous and sieve like would be the boulder garden rapid toward the bottom, I’m not sure it’s name. Rock garden maybe?

I do know the lower it gets the more lines end in rock piles. Be safe and keep us posted, it could be dangerous so be careful. I’d think you could get down it.
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Old 06-17-2018   #3
 
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I have done santa elena canyon only one time, Lower Box quite a few with lowest box run being 900 cfs. At 900 cfs the box is a long day of paddling. For me the only thing both runs have is they are in deep canyons. Lower Box is a big step up in difficulty from SE Canyon even at normal levels for both.



Before you do the lower box at a low level, I suggest on the way up to Taos you do the pilar run at very low cfs flow, as it will be close to ( but a bit more flow) than the cfs in the Box. But Pilar is roadside all the way. Once you put in the lower box, it is really hard to get out of the canyon till you hit the take out bridge. Pilar will give you a much easier run than the lower box but will introduce you to some of the issues of low water box runs. Put in for Pilar is just south the Pilar Yacht Club and BLM River Office.


Be aware success on Pilar is not any guarantee of success on Lower Box.


For what it is worth, Lower Box in average flow and cooler weather is basically a most of the day run and the black canyon rocks contain and amplify heat big time. My opinion here for what it is worth. Running lower box in hot summer climate and super low flow is pretty much of a high risk low return run when it comes to fun. Lots of work in blistering heat. Do not expect much help if something breaks. If you go, take a lot of extra water.



Most of my lower box runs have been in may, much cooler than in the real summer months. Lower Box is one heck of a classic run. Michael's Kitchen is almost always open and the place to eat a massive enchilada plate with about a gallon of ice tea after running the lower box!!!!



Again, for what it is worth. plenty of advice out there, You make your own decision.
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Old 06-18-2018   #4
Abron Cabron
 
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Bob and Okie have good beta for you there....:]
The lowest i have actually done the box was @340cfs back in 2011, and we hiked/lowered in to avoid the top. (which is a whole nother misadventure potentially....lol)
The LTB definitely goes with one portage (Powerline entrance) and a couple other spots to watch out for. It has been run plenty of times by parched local kids, down to 200 cfs probably....
and I think it is actually better then the rep it has. the Length/heat/not as exciting as highwater is all true, but its actually fun and creeky at low water, and since I am not a class V paddler, I have always been on the quest for the 'seldom seen rocky mountain class III creekin'...." I thought it was fun, and not too skeery. except the couple bad spots....

My reference is for hardshell or Ik cause low water LTB is pretty tough in a paddle raft. The Taos companies run the Box march- October most years. my former companies' commercial cutoff was 700. too much work in raft. It was probably harder 700<>500 because its still very pushy in channelized rapids. I have had memorable carnage (in a commercial raft) a 719cfs in the rock garden, missed the move, got vertically pinned (bow downstream and sinking) on the seive, with a whole family that i had to send piling out over the front of the boat and down stream to a waiting throwbag, so i could yard my boat over the 3 sisters rocks, and recover my peeps. was kinda gnarly, and could have gone a lot worse. anyway thats a sure sign of retired rafter, launching into story time about the good ol' days... lol

here's the the spots to watch out for, although i would say they all deserve a scout, as a blanket warning:
1. the third named rapid... (Yellowbanks) is a rockpile, and the line sucks for rafts, so scouting the line would help. normally right of center.
2. powerline entrance is no good, can portage about 15' on the left, and launch into the bottom half, or walk the whole thing (nasty rock hopping actually) on right or left.
3. stay away from the bottom right of rock garden, thats the 3 sisters sieve, but its pretty easy to avoid. (the last half of the box is the fun part)
4. end of Rio Bravo is called screaming Right, and the bottom of that is a big sieved out rockpile too. all the water goes there, but you just have to stay left, and its not too bad.

Hiking in is not recommended without at least 3 50-75' throwbags youre willing to thrash, (or an old rope which is a heavy addition to carry out) some biners and a rappel device to lower the boats, and willingness to downclimb a couple easy 20 foot grade 5 cliff bands. and ankle rolling rocks, maybe snakes, and its damn hot too. some of our local legends say its a 45 min stroll, the rest of us take about 2-3 hours and run out of water. so not recommended, for general consumption, but totally feasible for people who that special sense of adventure...

I would be down to paddle the box from the top sometime this summer, and hopefully with (any) more water. just bring a comfortable boat, lunch and more then a quart of H20...its totally feasible with an early start...
and its actually gtg all winter too, except for the week of any heavy freezes... 800cfs all winter until irrigation starts, has been the time to get it...
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Old 06-18-2018   #5
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Here's Dr. Nate M running the right side of powerline, and the synopsis sez this was actually 400cfs, in 2011...
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Old 06-18-2018   #6
Abron Cabron
 
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Here's Adam at screaming right
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Old 06-18-2018   #7
 
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For my money, abron is the expert on the Box and area runs. He gives us a in depth detailed report on low water Box runs.

Thanks abron for adding to this thread.


I was just out to Taos, camped at Pilar on the river and ran Rio Chama 3 days with a layover. We go just about every year in may and warm up on Pilar run and some times the lower box. The week we were out there, the Pilar run looked like a rocky hike, altho we did see a few IK's toward the bottom. We did not even unload the boats for Pilar. Instead went down to Dixon for Zuly's excellent grub (but the owner was out due to a motor cycle accident, best wishes for a speedy recovery) ended up buying a few bottles of wine at La Chiripada and heading down a few miles to eat BBQ at Sugars. Rio Chama was running good and I would recommend that run to Johnny C (if the releases hold) over lower box this summer.
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Old 06-18-2018   #8
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well, thank you sir, certainly not an expert... Mama Rio is always the boss, but I have been fortunate enough to spend many a day in there as a guide, so telling fish stories bout the canyon comes easy...

Here's a couple more pics that i Liked from that trip, another look at powerline, looking down rockgarden, and a cool view from the rim of the gorge....
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Old 06-19-2018   #9
 
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Thanks abron, okieboater and bobbuilds for the great info and advice! And great videos. Sounds like something to avoid. Maybe I should just hike it, possibly in separate segments, and check it out more closely (I'm into hiking). I've hiked about 6 miles of the bottom so far in a few different pieces. I've done the three miles south of the big bridge on river right and both directions from Manby Hot Springs about a mile each way.

Here's a few pics taken last week by a paramotor flying the gorge.









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Old 06-22-2018   #10
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Very Cool!!! what a unique way to see the gorge.
what a legit way to scout, and actually have seen Steve Fisher utilizing the paramotor air scout in at least one of his films..(The Hanging Spear gorge doc, on Red Bull channel).

You could be in high demand with your setup, if we get a big snow year and the Rio Brazos flows..... The guys who did that run chartered a plane ride to scout the upper section for adequate flow, since theres no gauge...

edit: ...if johnnyC got to take the air pics. if not...theyre still cool pics, and i must be tired.
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