i know you can't boat on 0 cfs (San Rafael) or even 7 cfs (muddy), but what about hiking? anybody familiar with hiking the black boxes or the chute at super low levels? super nasty stagnant water? deep or shallow? please and thanks...
I camped right above the upper box last night. It was crazy to see the San Rafael as nothing but a bunch of pools. I haven't hiked the upper box, but I did do the lower at about 25 cfs a few years back. It was not a great hike. Yes, it's pretty, but walking in chocolate milk water, with a foot of slimy mud below it, with tons of shin smashing boulders mixed in, is not my idea of a good day. That said, I think it would be easier at 0 cfs. I don't think it could be more snotty muddy than it was at 25 cfs.
Actually, the more I think about it, it could be a lot worse at 0 cfs. I remember being frustrated that I couldn't walk on the shore where I could see to avoid the shin smashing rocks because it was even stickier than the mud in the river. I ended up waist deep in some of it where I had to roll/wallow out. Honestly, I'd never recommend that hike to anyone under any condition. I'd totally do something else if I were you.
These are both popular canyoneering spots at low/no water. I was there two weekends ago and saw a group dropping into the lower Black Box. Google "Road Trip Ryan" and you'll find good, canyoneering-specific beta there.
I hiked the upper years ago with a dry bag in my backpack. I was able to ride my backpack through some of the big pools.
The shin mashing/bashing rocks are for real. After getting a few bruises, I found a hiking stick, so I could probe in front of me while walking in the river. Bring some webbing/rope to get down some of the steep sections.
The hike is beautiful, yet I believe the kiosk says something to the effect of of a “perilous journey”.
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