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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to gather some info on the Mama Chama Run on the Rio Chama. As far as I can tell, this is the generally agreed upon name for the "Los Ojos to Vado Lake" run listed on American Whitewater:

Other info I have found is as follows:
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f12/chama-above-el-vado-beta-46856.html
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f11/canadian-and-cimarron-beta-40958.html
Southwest Paddler

Current levels are 1060 CFS and I'm hoping it will stay up between 500 and 1000 CFS so i can get up there this weekend. I'm assuming this is the spring run off event?

This is summary from various online sources. What I'm hoping is that someone can confirm these details and/or add some first hand knowledge of this run.

USGS Gage: Rio Chama near La Puente, NM

Put in: SR/HWY(?)-95 bridge NW of Los Ojos, NM

Take out:
Option 1: Footbridge for fishing access just SE of Lake Heron. There appears to be a left turn off from 95 just before it crosses the dam. This has been advertised as a short, steep climb out of the canyon. Is it feasible with a raft and frame?
Option 2: Continue on about 4 miles to take out at a boat ramp on El Vado Lake. Probably a flat slog though some mud near the end. At last report, the northern-most boat ramp was closed (but this may have been seasonal).

Major obstacles (from online reports):
A low dam at the gaging station (near La Puente?)
Mama Chama Rapid, about 1-2 miles about Lake Heron Dam. III (?)
Issip noted class II-III action between the foot bridge at Lake Heron and El Vado at about 1000 CFS.

Are there any other river access points to note along this stretch? This run is noted to be 15 miles long on AW but its unclear exactly which access points they are using, any one have better info?

Additionally, AW describes a run from Chama (town?) to Los Ojos. Any info on that run would also be interesting!

Thanks!
 

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Abron Cabron
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I have been interested in kayaking this stretch too and it sounds like the flow window is on, also with 1800 cfs below el vado this weekend....

from what i have gathered, its nothing too hard, but in the photos i saw (american whitewater) there was some log strainers broached on the Mama Chama rock.
And i would assume the first footbridge takeout is pretty much kayak only. havent seen it, but similar to souse hole, you could carry rafts up the hill, but do you want to....?
Thats really all i got for you. the only other advice i could say would be to call Kokopelli rafting in SF, and ask for John. He did it last year, and would have better answers if he is available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the info Abron. Where are you getting your flow info for 1800 CFS below el vado?

There are a couple of places that look like they could be mama chama from the sat images on google maps, and they all look fairly full of logs. Definitely a good thing to watch out for.
 

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SHHH ABE. haha.

and yeah, the most recent google maps images are from 5/31/13, which was around 500cfs (puente gauge) , and it's hard to tell what any rapids might be like, but there are definitely a number of pretty nasty looking river wide obstructions.

it's definitely running off, but it's cooling off the last couple days and this weekend, so it might slow down.

I have plans for Sat/Sun but I'll be in the neighborhood on monday/tuesday and would absolutely be down to explore it in my kayak. The probability of at least several portages would kinda make me hesitant to do it with anyone taking a big, or loaded boat....
 

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Big Mama is a fun run to explore. A couple of guys (John, JBobb) were out there on Tuesday and had fun. In years past there has been barbed wire spanning the run as it starts through La Puente. They reported that it was "not an issue" this year, take that for what its worth and keep your eyes open at the top of the run. There are two steel cables that span the river (also near the top) that are at head level, mind those of course.
The rapids are really strait-forward and easy to handle. Big Mama Rapid has some massive rocks in the river and it sounds like they have a lot of wood piled up on them. The most recent report says that far left and far right are clear. Don't bother with the paddle out of El Vado. The lake is at historic lows right now. The fisherman's bridge is an easy short hike with a kayak out of the canyon. The steepest sections have a staircase that will prove ridiculous for long boats/IKs/rafts. Have fun!
 

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Ran it today from 95 bridge to upper lake boat ramp. SO FUN!
Did it in 3.5 hours stopping for lunch.

Mama Chama has EASY sneak (for kayaks) on right, we didn't even scout.

Everything else mostly class II+

Section below footbridge/Heron Dam is fun and fast. No slog with El Vado being so low. Actually flew past the boat ramp. Look for a bouy floating and that is about where we should have taken out. There will be some low cliffs on the river right - probably want to get out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Awesome, suz! Thanks for the info. I'm getting excited to check it out! It's not often that us New Mexicans get to try out a new run in the state.


Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
 

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Anyone been on this section of the Chama in the past few weeks?

I may consider the 16 mile run above El Vado lake next week. Depending on flow decline, it looks like maybe I would have 400-500cfs. Any contemporary trip reports at similar levels would be fantastic (albeit unlikely :) ).
 
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