Guide Testimonial Britt Runyon

Guide Testimonial Britt Runyon, 7/29/17

“On Wednesday Susan and I took the most wonderful raft trip down the Rio Grande south of Taos. Our guide, for the second time, was our friend Britt Runyon, with New Wave Rafting. Britt has such a great love for this area, along with deep knowledge of the plants, animals and the river itself (and is such a great guy), that the trip was a total joy! We highly recommend him and the river itself.”

Britt Runyon

Britt is our Operations Manager. Every once in a while we try to figure out how long he has been with us – it’s been SO long! He started in 1985 or earlier!!

And he is our video and  photography producer. You’ll see his work on the website.

Past the drop, with a big smile on her face!

Here, he photographed Kathy Miller, NWRCo. Pres., running Powerline Falls in the Taos Box this season.

Bighorn sheep and channel fill

and Bighorn sheep in the Taos Box, also this season.

Come rafting with us, and request Britt. He represents our vision of providing the most valuable river experience possible. And … help us save the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (which includes the Taos Box) from the clutches of the current administration, which wants to downsize or eliminate National Monuments completely. Drop a line to:  @SecretaryZinke.

Thanks!

 

 

(Guide Testimonial Britt Runyon)

(Guide Testimonial Britt Runyon)

Bighorn Sheep and Channel Fill

Bighorn Sheep and a “channel fill” are seen in this arresting photo by Britt Runyon (below), taken in the Taos Box portion of the Rio Grande Gorge. “What’s a channel fill?”, you say?

OK, I’ll explain. But first, I need to discuss the geologic history of the Rio Grande Gorge. In this part of gorge, the Rio Grande is incised into a succession of lava flows, one sitting atop the other, like a layer cake – and I’ve counted as many as 7 different layers in that cake. Before these lava flows began, let’s suppose that the Rio Grande was running through a valley, as rivers do. The first lava flow into that valley dammed up the river, causing a lake to form behind the dam. When the lake rose to the height of the lava dam, its waters began to spill out and meander over the surface of the lava flow. Depending on the amount of time that elapsed between the over-topping of the lava dam and the arrival of the second flow, the Rio Grande would (with less time) have  cut a channel into the flow, and (with more time) cut a gorge. This same process would have repeated with the arrival of each new lava flow. The Rio finally had the opportunity to cut down more fully through that stack of layers once the lava flows stopped coming.

So, what about that channel fill? In the upper part of the photo, four Bighorn sheep are seen standing on a tan layer of rock, that looks nothing like the basalt rocks seen above and to the side (when hardened, this kind of lava is called basalt). That tan rock is, in fact, hardly rock at all. It’s dirt! And how did it get there? It’s sediment that collected in a stream channel that ran across the surface of a lava flow. The part of the channel seen in the photo narrows to the right side, being a partial cross-section of the entire channel. And then what happened? Down came another lava flow, which capped that channel fill, preserving it for all time. Additionally, the molten lava that covered over the channel fill baked that material, giving it a reddish cast.

Channel fills like the one seen here are seen elsewhere, and at different levels, in the walls of the gorge, being situated upon the top of one flow or another. They really stick out, and once you know what you’re looking for, you begin to recognize them.

Bighorn sheep and channel fill

Channel fill at the base of a basalt cliff

Channel fill at top of cliff (“X”), staining the rocks below

Channel fill (“X”)

See Bighorn Sheep in the Taos Box

See Bighorn Sheep in the Taos Box. Many bighorn sheep, with newborn lambs, were seen on our Taos Box raft trip of 5-20-17. The sheep come to river-side at this time of the year to graze on the new grass and other vegetation just now showing up. There may be no better way to come into such close contact with these magnificent wild critters, which may be a better reason for running the Box than the whitewater itself!

Baby Bighorn sheep of the Rio Grande.

Lamb, Taos Box run, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico. Photo by Britt Runyon, 5-20-17

Bighorn sheep of the Taos Box.

For these wild creatures, there’s safety in numbers. Photo by Britt Runyon.

But, while speaking of the whitewater – it’s not too shabby right now! We are having, at the moment, very exciting rafting on the Rio Grande, and we anticipate yet more exciting rafting as, in the next month, the river rises to levels that exceed what we’ve seen so far this season. It’s been chilly this spring, leaving plenty of snow still in the mountains … and that snow will start melting in earnest when hot weather finally arrives (temps in the 80s). The first week in June is when the big melt usually hits, and that is just around the corner.

We’re expecting the Rio to exceed 4000 cfs, and perhaps much more than that, at the peak of run-off. Levels at or beyond 4000 cfs make the Taos Box a white knuckles non-stop roller-coaster ride, and bring the Racecourse up to Class IV difficulty. You will not forget your run through Souse Hole (on the Racecourse) at that level! And you will be insisting that your friends look at the photos of you in either Taos Junction Rapid (the Taos Box) or Souse Hole, on the Racecourse.

Call us now, and mention this blog post to receive a 10% discount on any trip. Adventure awaits!

Photos and video by Britt Runyon, NWRCo guide and photographer extraordinaire!

Back to the Box

Back to the Box! We’re thrilled to have good flows for our Taos Box run, and have 7 guests there today (along with some Box guide trainees), who will enjoy 80 degree temperatures, bighorn sheep sightings and maybe even see the otters, or golden eagles, or migrating western tanagers … or who knows what? The Taos Box run is 16 miles of wilderness gorge, positioned in the heart of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, which has been set aside to preserve the land and riverscape of the Rio Grande Gorge of northern New Mexico.

We also have a boatload of guide trainees on the Racecourse run. Summer and whitewater action is here!!

Dead Car rapid, in the Taos Box

Dead Car rapid, in the Taos Box. Photo by Britt Runyon

 

Final Taos Box Trip of 2015, 8/2/15

Final Taos Box Trip of 2015, 8/2/15. There’s lots to see and do on a Taos Box trip – 16 miles of Class 3 and 4 rapids in a wilderness gorge, populated with otters, bighorn sheep, eagles, muskrats, beaver …. The Taos Box is the centerpiece of the recently declared Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, which includes the Rio Grande Gorge and wild lands that spread out to either side on the surrounding plains. You can’t get a better one-day wilderness whitewater trip anywhere in the West. Shown here is our last trip of the season, with low water calling a halt to further activity in the Box. It just gets too rocky, as you will see. This fabulous collection of photos were shot by the very talented Britt Runyon, who is New Wave’s Operations Manager and official photographer. He was joined on this trip by guide Joe Cameron. As to next year, if New Mexico benefits from the predicted El Nino, we’ll see good flows in the Rio Grande once again. Think about reserving your Box trip for June, when we get the highest flows of the summer. See you then!!

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Otters

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Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge

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One of the introduced bighorn sheep

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Dead Car rapid

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Young bighorn sheep

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Power line Falls. Joe does raft gymnastics.

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Powerline Falls

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Rock Garden scout and sculpted rock

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Rock Garden rapid, with the notorious Camel Rock smack dab in the middle

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Boulder Field entrance

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Fluted Boulder

Taos Box, 4-6-15

Taos Box, 4-6-15. Britt Runyon is at it again, guiding a paddle boat down the Box and taking superlative photos (as I’m sure you will agree) along the way. That’s what I call multi-tasking! Also guiding on this trip of 6 was Joe Cameron. Besides the bighorns seen along the river’s banks, the party saw nesting water ouzels at Ouzel Rapid – named, as you would imagine, for the fact that ouzels nest every year in the rocks just a few feet above the whitewater of the rapid. Photos by Britt Runyon. Text by Steve Miller.

The Crew in the Taos Box.

At the put-in, just upstream of John Dunn bridge

Gorge Bridge, Bighorn Sheep and Raft

Gorge Bridge, Bighorn Sheep and raft

Bighorn rams

Bighorn rams

Rafting the Taos Box

Joe Cameron, taking the drop in Dead Car Rapid, Taos Box

 

 

First Taos Box trip of 2015

First Taos Box trip of 2015! Today, March 21, was Kathy’s birthday (Kathy Miller, Pres. of NWR ), and she wanted to run the Box. What a great idea! The forecast was for a high in the mid-60s and clear. This is the earliest we have ever run the Box, thanks to global warming. We were joined by NWR staff Britt, CJ, Joe, Adrien and trainee Michele. Britt and I were in an oar boat, and the others in a paddle boat. The river was running 1400 cfs, and the trip went off without a hitch, taking just a little over 3 hours. We had the river to ourselves, except for some wildlife, which included a group of bighorn sheep, canada geese, mergansers, green-winged teal, a redtail hawk, canyon wrens and a muskrat that dived under our boat. Mayflies were out, but it was still too early for the migratory songbirds.

The put-in, at John Dunn Bridge

The put-in, at John Dunn Bridge

Sculpted and polished basalt boulder

Sculpted and polished basalt boulder

Sculpted and polished basalt boulder, side view

Sculpted and polished basalt boulder, side view

The Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge

The Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge

Yellow Bank Rapid

Yellow Bank Rapid

60 Mile/Hr Rapid

60 Mile/Hr Rapid

The tight squeeze at the entry to Dead Car Rapid

The tight squeeze at the entry to Dead Car Rapid

Watch out for the big rock, in Dead Car Rapid

Watch out for the big rock, in Dead Car Rapid

The steep drop into Powerline Falls

The steep drop into Powerline Falls

Sharkfin Rock, in the Rock Garden Rapid

Sharkfin Rock, in the Rock Garden Rapid

Buzzsaw Rapid

Buzzsaw Rapid

Ugly Rock

Ugly Rock

 Screaming Left Turn Rapid

Screaming Left Turn Rapid

Mitch's Bitch rock in the Boulder Field section.

Mitch’s Bitch rock in the Boulder Field section.

Screaming Right Turn Rapid

Screaming Right Turn Rapid

Screaming Right Turn Rapid

Screaming Right Turn Rapid

 Sculpted basalt rock

Sculpted basalt rock

Taos Creek enters the Rio Grande at Taos Junction Rapid

Taos Creek enters the Rio Grande at Taos Junction Rapid