Rio Chama,NM River 31 miles primitive

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TXyakr
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Rio Chama,NM River 31 miles primitive

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Post by TXyakr » Sun Nov 29, 2015 6:53 am

Looking for a total of 3 - 10 people for a river trip down Rio Chama river in North Central New Mexico a weekend in August 2016 but we must have our requests for permits submitted to the BLM by the end of December 2015 (lottery system but much better odds than private permits for Grand Canyon). Cost of each request is $6/person then $5 plus fees to put in place but most of cost is gas money getting there and overnight motel if you don't drive straight there (about 12 hours from DFW but much further from Houston or way far from East/West Coast). Many fun things to do in area Taos, Santa Fe, Mountain Biking and lots of great hiking trails. Also close to S. Colorado Durango, San Juan Mountains National Forest etc. So stay 3 days or 3 weeks your choice. Car pool with people of similar interests.

Camping is primitive BLM requires that you bring a reusable container (not plastic bag) for your human solid waste, and all fires must be in a container above ground i.e. no ashes left on ground so very little evidence of humans. Douglas fir and pine trees along river and several hundred yards up and from river provide great places for hammocks but also possible to use a tent. As you hike to rim trees get smaller. Max group size is 16 but better if it is 10 or less some areas do not accommodate large groups. Best if someone gets there by Thursday or early Friday and signs up for best camping spaces along river. (a few I prefer but all are very good)

Almost any personal water craft "may" work but if you use a large open flat water canoe I recommend that you fill all the open space (not filled with your gear in dry bags) with some sort of floatation bags (could be something you improvised, I can give ideas). Thus when a large rapid with standing waves 3-6 feet tall goes completely over your boat and your head and fills your boat it will not cause it to weight a ton and pin it on the rocks and logs and crush it, also you will not waste all our time bailing/pumping the 50-200 gallons of water out. Personally I pack light and use a White Water kayak with a neoprene spray skirt but that is mostly so I can surf in the standing waves and "play", i.e. not necessary; a cata-raft or open canoe with or without a spray skirt is OK. Also inflatable canoes such as SOAR brand are good but be sure to pack a very good patch kit, if it leaks and your pump cannot keep up you may need to leave most of your gear on the river bank that you cannot carry and hike for a day or two to the nearest highway (no trails, very steep and mountain lions and wolves) and hitch hike to the takeout and meet us there. So whatever boat you bring don't overload it (pre-pack it to be sure), this ain't car camping with your great grand mother or relatives who pack blow driers and electric crock pots. I take a bath every afternoon/evening but it is very fast and I keep a large rock or shrub near to hide behind every time a raft goes by so I don't startle/offend the people, the water is very cold so they would not see much anyway, TMI. Toilet area is set up about 50 yards behind some trees and bushes with a great view of the valley, I don't recommend a tent for it but you can bring one if you must. Better to just put a flag to indicate if someone is there and holler if you are headed in that direction. I like to see any bears, wolves, cougars or snakes coming at me when I am squatting, this ain't a State Park! No heated restrooms or running water! Bring a filter or haul your own water with you.

A good choice is a 13-15" Sit-On-Top kayak because they self bail and have high buoyancy. Once I camped for 2 nights on a 11.5' SOT kayak and padded in class III rapids but that was a little small, NOT recommended! 17' and longer will also work, has more capacity for gear but unless you are very good at turning quickly you may hit more rocks and flip more often (dress appropriately not cotton jeans and loafers). If it has rained a lot the water will be silty (turbid, color of Café Au Lait) and unless you are great at reading changes in the surface of water rocks are difficult to detect. I.e. if water is not flat ahead "it may be a rock" go around it or you may hit it! Hit it sideways you may flip. Most people flip in strong eddy current after rapids and in riffles hung on rocks not in actual large rapids because they are not concentrating, "keep facing down river don't go sideways." Sorry I cannot turn off the instructor in my head sometimes.

A lot of white water experience is not required in my opinion for class III but you absolutely must be physically fit enough to very quickly self rescue, i.e. get your self back in your boat very quickly in fast moving water before you hit another rapid when the banks are steep cliffs and deep water and all your gear must be tied down with ropes (not bungee cords) so nothing floats away when you flip and tumble over rocks. I.e. "garage sales" are not allowed. Funny to watch but a waste of time and then you are begging gear off of everyone else for the rest of the trip if you lose something, like your sleeping bag and trying to share someone else's that is rough. Also spare paddle is a must and don't let go of primary! If I see you visiting with the fish in a the low oxygen environment for more than a minute or two I may paddle over and check you out if I happen to be close, but this is basically everyone for themselves. Keep your PFD securely on at all times!!! A helmet of some sort is a good idea, bike, rock climbing, skakeboard, or anything that dries fast should work. Try not to go Gary Busey on us.

Hope to talk more at Butt Freeze and Galveston Hangouts but a river trip in New Mexico or Utah (San Juan or Green) is a lot of fun. A few things to know but the scenery is great! Very quiet because you are so far from motors or cars and boats etc.
http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recrea ... a_wsr.html



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TXyakr
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Re: Rio Chama,NM River 31 miles primitive

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Post by TXyakr » Sun Nov 29, 2015 9:45 am

Rio Chama Scenic river geographically just between Continental Divide (actual) and the CDT Continental Divide Trail that goes from Mexico to Canada. This map is a little blurry but you can see it basically is 31 miles below El Vado lake (State Park on lake, you could hike to it on a trail from the private campgrounds at put in below the dam.) Or if you have a lot more time you could spend a few weeks hiking a section of the CDT.

http://m6.i.pbase.com/g5/95/381395/2/11 ... QE4YGZ.jpg

Also some much shorter hikes to great ancient caves near take out at "Big Eddie". And near put in at El Vado Lake the Rio Chama Trail, which happens to be what my Maine Coon cat is named after (that is just confusing useless info, sorry cat has never been there or to Maine only Texas).

Most of that general area is at about 6000 to over 7000 feet above sea level so it is fairly cool all year round but about 80F for high in August may occasionally get close to 100F. Usually only mid 40F at night but could get close to freezing. August is the "rainy season" expect some rain in evening but daytime is typically dry and sunny, but could rain all day so be prepared or could be no rain at all for weeks. But this forecast to be a very wet El Nino and high pressure over Texas keeps rain over NM typically in August. I think, but not my area of expertise.

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