Cannot remember what the flow was last month nor what canyon we camped in six years ago. Where was that waypoint file? Got tired of looking for the Green River gauge for the 20th time. Log books have a way of becoming lost. This site is an attempt to overcome those issues. If it helps fellow paddlers and rafters navigate rivers of the Southwest, so much the better. Gene Couch
Had been planning this trip since the fall of 2019 but like many of our lives, it went on hold due to the pandemic. The activity driving the trip was a May 3rd Rio Chama launch. This was a mid-week launch arranged vis Recreation.gov as an alternative to my usual failure to get a recreational release permit through the lottery. Hoping for flows high enough to raft vs kayak but instead had ~1800 CFS. That was much higher than normal. Estimating release flows from El Vado isn’t just science, experience, and guesswork as it is simply black magic. Cold at night and decent during the day with the wind occasionally being an issue. It would have been difficult making progress downstream without the higher flow. Having had a couple of years to plan meant there were a lot of tourist stops penciled in. Only about half of those plans actually came to fruition.
First stop was the never-before-visited Petrified Forest National Park. It was supposed to be a two day stop but compressed to a single day due to the trip starting a day later than planned. All plans essentially went south as my younger brother Raymond passed away days before departing. A large portion of the trip was centered around visiting my two brothers in Portales, and now there was but one. The next three days were scheduled for El Morro National Monument and various hikes within the El Malpais National Monument.
After that there were supposed to be stops at various Spanish Missions along the way. These were Old Zuni, Santa Maria, Laguna, Isleta, and San Miguel. I have been trying for years to take the tour at Acoma Pueblo but never managed to do it. This trip was no exception as Acoma was still closed and the other missions essentially the same. The city of Zuni had signs about photography not being allowed including the mission. So that portion of the trip was a wash.
After the Chama rafting, it was off to my birth city of Portales for a few days. Growing up I would have lumped our family as middle class. Since everyone else was just as poor as we were, didn’t realize how much that skewed my view. After this neighborhood visit, decided we definitely didn’t start life out on 3rd base.
From there it was a short hop to more lava flows at the Valley of Fires recreation area at Carrizozo. The last major stop before the long slog home turned out to have my favorite hike of the trip and that was at White Sands National Park. Had a couple other hikes planned, most notably the Glenwood Catwalk Recreation Area, but the trip was already over at this point. On the remaining drive home, kept thinking this might have been the last time around.