Kayak camping is a good time. After spending two weeks living outta my boat on the Grand this past November (more on that later) I was itching for more. We were hoping for a deep and long desert canyon with plenty of miles to paddle, some good whitewater and beach camping. Our initial leanings were in the direction of southwestern Idaho, to the Owyhee, but a dismal snowpack, tighter than anticipated schedule and lack of solid flow potential had us searching the map for a new spring break destination.
Nothing seemed to be in. Cali and the Northwest were at least semi-in and we will be there soon but for some reason March almost always has me dreaming of desert paddling. Cactus, muddy waters and bluebird skies is all a man needs sometimes.
We heard some reports of the Embudo coming up and turned our eyes to Nuevo Mexico. The Embudo seemed questionable but the Rio Grande was starting to juice and spiking. After much, and I mean much deliberation, even for the most whimsical of paddlers, our plan was finally formulated on the drive, just outside of San Luis, CO, almost to border with New Mexico.
Three days, two nights paddling the Rio Grande, from the Razorblades section down through the Upper and Lower Taos Boxes to the confluence with the Rio Pueblo. With a pretty amazing shuttle assist from the incomparable Justin Merritt we also managed to squeeze in a low water Embudo and a second lap on the Upper Box to round out our little four day excursion. We even made home in time for dinner with the wifeys and kids.
And now, I let the photos do the talking.
Cutch warming up those arms for the season in the Razorblades section
Elk in the Razorblades section. We had a stellar wildlife viewing trip - elk, deer, beaver, otter, sheep, heron, hawk, duck and geese, maybe more, that's all I can remember.
Nick day 1
Cutch more Razor
Name these tracks! Somebody was chilling in our camp night 1 not too long before we got there.
Night 1 cooking up some pre-cooked organic sausages, that's right. Not pictured fine Kentucky Bourbon, Eagle Rare.
Strong flow, bluebird sky, first class V strokes of '95... or 2012. '95 rhymed and + the length of Cutch's boat had me a little confused.
NCO. Prolly the scariest drop at this flow. Big hole folllowed by scary sieves bordered by dangerous ledge hole.Cutch stuck it in his sea kayak.
Wigston with style, Big Arsenic
Run-out of Big Arsenic. Finally got a chance to try out the Stomper with some bigger flows and the thing performs. It's a much faster boat than it appears. I was nearly able to keep up with Cutch in his sea kayak... but that could mostly be because I'm just so much sicker than he is.
Boat repair at the Red River confluence. So, it wasn't really a sea kayak that Cutch was paddling, it was crossover boat the Fusion and it broke unfortunately. These boats, like the Remix XP are classified as rec boats, but as we found out on the Grand, truly perform well in class IV rapids. Even in class V, Cutch was making it look good, but the break occurred at the edge of the skeg mount, which was probably not designed to encounter many rocks.
Cutch was prepared and made a nice repair that will probably last for awhile on non-class V runs for a some time to come... hopefully.
Cool rock while we lunched and finished the boat repair
We paddled all the way into the Lower Taos Box on day 2 and found this flip flop heel left on a nice beach. "Yep, this must be camp."
Cutch mounted some after market stern attachment points to the Fusion, great for transporting driftwood to camps that may already be scoured.
Early morning Powerline Rapid, Lower Taos Box
Lower Taos action, beautiful morning
Cutch, more Lower Taos Box action. After the flatwater at the beginning of the run, there really is some nice whitewater in there. Hell of a canyon too.
Fantastic trip, with the best of bros. Not much more needs to be said.