We hit the Piedra yesterday at about 1300 or so. My first time down. There were no extraordinary hazards other than sunburn and fatigue of 19 miles of class 3. I'm not sure if I would call that run class 4. It was mostly 2-3 with maybe one 4-ish drop, and eye of the needle.
The road to the take out was closed. I think it would be fun with about 5,000 in it, a 90deg. day and a playboat.
Sorry about bitching, I was expecting more, but, it was still a good quality season opener. Don't take UR playboat though.
We ran the Piedra on Sunday. It was at about 800cfs. It was fun to be in the boat again but it was a long day with minimal action. At 800cfs it might be a class 3+ run. I rate it a two star run at this level on a five star scale.
I am confused. You all who have run it lately from 800 to 1300 are calling it Class 2-3+. CRC2 calls it IV(V) and AW says runnable levels are 500 to 1500 cfs. Something doesn't add up. Who is wrong and what is the real scoop. Is it usually run at much higher flows? Has the "crux geologic rapids" mellowed over the last couple years? If it is a two star run, does it become classic at higher flows or was it never a classic. I have always wanted to do the run and now that I live 1/2 hour (Bayfield) away I was going to check it out.
As a Class IV boater, I was going to find a guide to take me down, now I am thinking I can do it with a rookie group and boat scouting. Am I off base?
It does get busier at higher flows
The upper canyon only has one worthy rapid near the campground
I usually wait till the first fork road opens and run the lower canyon
That puts you in the meat right away but you still have a long II stretch to get out
I take my Godzilla not my playboat at any flow for comfort and piece of mind
The eye does seem to be ever changing Ive walked it the last few times
Good to hear from another paddler in the bay area
The Piedra is a long day if you have to boat from above Pagosa, but there's no way around that until the Forest Service opens the lower gate. I have a friend that works that office and she might be able to tell me when the gate might open. Otherwise, you have to deal with 11 miles of casual boating with only one or two decent but benign rapids. Makes for a long day, unless you have high flows. I think it's still worth checking out, just from a scenery factor.
The lower section is fun but it doesn't pop until after 2000 cfs on the guage. After the gate is open, the logistics get a lot easier and it's a decent wilderness play run, in my opinion. If you're a studly V boater who doesn't want to bother with a IIIish run, then skip it. I think it's a classic because it's a free-flowing, beautiful river with a hot spring on the side of the river (at low flows). There are not quite enough big rapids at most flows, but it can get a little spicy in high water. I caught the peak flow in '96 above 3000 and that was a riot. We should see a peak around 2500 to 2900 this year (a guess, if it gets hot quickly) and if you live there you should definitely check it out.
Totally agree with el flaco about only paddling the lower section (called First Box because the Spanish explorers were going up river so got to it "first" as opposed to coming downriver which would make it the second box, yada yada yada....) and at higher flows. I also caught it in 96 at about 2000 or higher (it was the first week of July) and it was still a good run as I like the playing on the section below the box. So...it's a good solid IV at higher flows the first couple of miles (box section) and then mellows to playful II-III for another 7 - 8 miles....makes for a nice day.
you did not hear this from me but a couple years ago we drove around the gate up on 1st fork road. it's a minor 4wd move trough the ditch on the right around the gate. we had to use the truck to drag one tree off the road but otherwise it was way way cool to be the 1st people up there for the season. we actually saw a mt. lion! the 1st fork creek looked doable as well with a few trees to avoid. the bottom half is definately the way to go. i thought mudslide rapid was pretty gnarly, and there was other good stuff if i remember. we only scouted at mudslide. i think it was 1400 or so.
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