Mountain Buzz banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
426 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I just got my first packraft and looking for any suggestions on where to take it. I'm familiar with my ELF options in AZ, but haven't paddled NM much. I was specifically thinking stretches of the Rio Grande in NM. How are those sections at below recommended levels? Any multi-day suggestions would be appreciated. I'm thinking that an Alpacka might be able to slither down a run a kayaker wouldn't want to deal with.

Thanks!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,836 Posts
White rock is probably your premier multi day in New Mexico, unfortunately the majority of the rapids and many of the best camps were inundated by the creation of Cochiti Reservoir in the late 70's.

This would be your other option:
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/...-kayak-self-support-trip-in-the-sw-46135.html
but the upper/lower boxes aren't in and quite possibly have major ice issues.

If your looking for mid winter boating options outside AZ I would look to southern California or Big Bend.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
426 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. That looks like a great trip. I wonder what month that video was made? Looked like cool weather but probably not January.

I might have to settle for a Verde run for the maiden voyage. Snow in the forecast finally...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
778 Posts
Thanks. That looks like a great trip. I wonder what month that video was made? Looked like cool weather but probably not January.

I might have to settle for a Verde run for the maiden voyage. Snow in the forecast finally...
No idea on NM, but subscribing to this thread to learn.

Have run the Verde down to about 190 in a packraft. We portaged the falls (piton!) but ran everything else clean.

Packraft self-supported the Salt wilderness run at ~500 last year, with 5 days of food/gear.

Did some ELF'ing (and some decidedly NOT ELF'ing) in OR/WA a few weeks ago:

Big Wheel Building: PNW: Packrafting iN Winter.

Cheers,

MC
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
216 Posts
Chama

The Chama wilderness run is a great option later in the season in NM if you can play during the week.

You don't need a lottery permit for weekday launches, but since it's dam controlled they release for the weekends and cut the flow during the week. The camping is awesome, and you could probably run it down to ~200CFS or lower and have the whole place to yourself all week. There will definitely be some weeks of below recommended flows this season as El Vado and Heron lakes are still well under 50% capacity.

The class II Ute Mountain run would also be a good option - the Rio Grande from about the Colorado State Line down the first 24 miles of the gorge. There's often less than recommended flows and there's a hike out at the end (which would make having a pack raft nice).

Whiterock is great as well, but there is typically adequate water for kayaks and small rafts, it's the difficult shuttle situation and the paddle out across Cochiti Lake (dangerous in high winds) that keeps most people out.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,836 Posts
Gila? Anyone know the elf minimum for the Wilderness run? That might be something to experience before it disappears...

Oh, and without watching Atom's video again I would guess their trip was in late March or April maybe....definitely before the San Luis Valley diversions get turned on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
216 Posts
Most of the experienced people I know cut the Gila off at 300CFS, but the Gila is unpredictable so at really low flows a small change in the weather can leave you with much less than 300CFS real quick (unless your riding the tail of a major flood and the hydrograph is very stable).

The entire stretch is hikable though, and a lot of people just hike it every year. In a packraft if you're prepared to hike if you have to, you could get a lot more Gila trips in. That alone makes me want a pack raft...

Given the recent cold snap I think Cochiti Lake may have unsafe ice, and there's likely ice in the upper Rio Grande and Chama as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
426 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Issip for the NM info. I finally got on the Chama this year and had a great trip. The Gila Wilderness has been on the wish list for years. We finally woke up to some proper snow in Flag today, & it sounds like we could see a foot out of the storm. AZ boating might just happen early in 2015!

Thanks for all the packrafting trip reports Mike. I'm stoked to finally have the Alpackalypse in the quiver. It was hard to put off investing in a Denali Lama while the R&D years ticked by. This thing is sick though and will be tagging along with me on any trips where bringing a kayak will be a pain. If you get itching for some sunshine this winter you might want to consider the Verde Wilderness. We did it last January at base flow, maybe 270 below Fossil Creek, and was surprised how clean it was. Not a whitewater adventure really, but the river does lose gradient the whole way and there are dozens of class II rapids to break up the flat water. I want to go back with more time to hike down there. Like the Salt, it's really special floating through a Saguaro forest.

Has anyone done the upper Verde (Perkinsville section)? Im thinking a top to bottom adventure would be a fun packrafting trip...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
778 Posts
If you get itching for some sunshine this winter you might want to consider the Verde Wilderness.
Some friends did the VW a few years ago in Alpackas. Pics made it look beautiful, mellow.

Currently packing my Alpackalypse for a 10-day self-support Grand trip. Likely going to be my only AZ trip this winter, for better or worse.

But maybe in the spring...?

Please share some pics of your 'lypse as you get it dialed in and customized to your needs.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,836 Posts
Here is a short TR I received via pm from Dusto5 recently:

Mountain Buzz - View Profile: Dusto5

"Hey, just wanted to let you know how the trip went.
Good time, good camping, low flow (50-70 cfs). Rocky and brushy. I took my Pack Cat Tandem 13 footer - bad idea. I recommend a canoe or hard shell kayak. Would not recommend an inflatable of any kind, unless you're a glutton for punishment, like me. We paddled about 5 miles the first day and camped at the "Tunnel Falls" portage. Paddled about another 5 miles the following day and camped across from some of the far upper end abandoned structures of the Alvarez Ranch. On the third day, we paddled about 11 miles to the TAPCO RAP. Most everyone that went paddled a canoe. One buddy of mine ran his sit-on-top Jackson Kayak and did exceptional.

Yeah, I'll probably do it again just because it's in my backyard. Not sure I'd travel much distance to do it though, there are better runs on the Verde that are more worthwhile to travel for. Sure, the scenery is cool, but the lower stretches have awesome scenery too.

We put in at Perkinsville. You cross the bridge coming in on Perkinsville Road from Jerome. Then hang a right and drive parallel to the river for a quarter mile or so. Had to cross a short fence to stage the boats and gear."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
140 Posts
Mind you, that was the Upper Verde run. The higher flow and bigger rapids in the lower sections make running inflatables a virtue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
426 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Hey Dusto,
Glad to know its boatable that low. I assumed it would need more. I'm a little confused about your 'no inflatables of any kind' comment. Were you scraping every inch of the way at that level? It's obvious to me why your 13' cat was too big, but packrafts do better than kayaks with tiny volumes of water. I'd think a light ducky would do better than a canoe as well. Is there something about the nature of the run that favors a hard plastic boat?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
140 Posts
Yes - the narrow, hard plastic boats slide over and thru the tight rocky channels quite nicely, while the inflatables (especially my ridiculously long waterlined Pack Cat) will slide onto a rock and inevitably get hung on it, requiring to get out and push or pull thru. But yes, my rig was dragging (or being drug) most of the trip. I was trying to imagine running my Tomcat thru that section (I know a lot of people have done it), and figure it would be better because it's smaller, but still wouldn't work as well as a canoe. I would also recommend using a single blade canoe paddle over a double blade kayak paddle, that way you're not running half the length of your paddle into all the overhanging brush that lines 70% of that run.t
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
242 Posts
Gila? Anyone know the elf minimum for the Wilderness run? That might be something to experience before it disappears...
I once put on the Gila in February at about 95 cfs in a 12' Avon... It was brutal... but it was an experience I'll never forget! (I was also about 16 years old...) Another member of our crew was rowing a shiny new 14' SOTAR & she rocked it! (her biggest issue was her long oars.) We only had one popped boat, and it only took us two days longer than expected, and it only snowed a little bit... Gorgeous though! Definitely hop on the bandwagon of voicing the importance of the Gila if you haven't been already! They are trying to dam it... and at this point it looks like they're winning. :'(

Otherwise, really, just about anything is boatable at just about any level, as long as your willing to play rock dance games! I have duckied the Verde at about 50 cfs, I have worked the Rio Grande racecourse commercially down to 147 cfs in 12'rs, run Browns Canyon at 240 cfs in a 14'er, (worked it commercially down to about 280 cfs in 13'rs.) ELFing is totally a personal thing more than a craft or flow thing, (within reason.)

Your biggest concern this time of year really is ice, which does make AZ generally a better winter option, though if you check the weather for long warm spells, the Chama could totally rock. :)
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top