Guide Testimonial About Neil Oberheide, AM Racecourse July 18

Guide Testimonial About Neil Oberheide: “Our rafting experience was AMAZING due in part to the expert guide we had.  I can’t remember his name but his aunt & uncle have ownership in the rafting company.  We rafted in the AM trip on July 18th and had a blast.  I had rafted before but my significant other had not.  He being from Chicago and me from Montana made the difference.  I am recommending your company to others and will continue to do so.  Thank you for a wonderful morning.  Chris Danner and Bob fisher”

Neil had been away for a few years (in school in California), but came back to guide again this summer. He brought his dog, Lenny, and, after work, they go out together on a stand up paddle board. While Lenny doesn’t confide much to anyone, we know that he’s having a great time. Neil is too, and you can tell that from the testimonial above.

What distinguishes us from other companies? It’s our guides, who always give our guests the best time possible. They love the outdoor life and love sharing it. Ask for Neil for your next trip. And you can do it online, while at the same time getting the “Online Special” (that’s the promo code) 10% discount. There’s still plenty of summer to go, and there is no better place to spend a summer morning or afternoon than on a river – the Rio Grande, I mean!

Neil and Lenny on SUP

Funyak Season Arrives on the Rio Grande, July 1, 2017

When the Rio Grande drops below 600 cfs (cubic feet per second) we pull out our smaller rafts and our funyaks. While we will miss the Taos Box, which. because it is so steep and rocky, requires more than 600 cfs, we look forward to the fun of funyaks and our sport fleet. “Does the lower water level make the river easier?”, you may ask. Well … yes and no. The lower water is safer, in that you are not being rushed pell-mell downstream if you fall in. The water is warm and clear now , as well – 65 degrees warm as of 7-1-17 – making it much more fun for swimming. Yes, we do a lot of swimming during this part of our season.  But the “no” part of the answer is that, while we have fewer big waves in the Rio, the lower water has allowed more rocks to break the surface – and we now have to maneuver around those exposed rocks. This makes the river more “technical” – meaning more rafting/funyakking technique is required. Either on the part of the guide, who may be shouting paddling commands at you, one after the other, or on your part, as you dodge between the rocks. Of course, everything else being equal, a funyak can thread the passages with greater ease than a raft. And, funyaks are more much stable and user-friendly than regular hard kayaks. We rent funyaks for 4 hr. unguided trips on the Class 2 Orilla Verde stretch, with shuttle included, and we provide funyaks on our regular trips at no extra cost, but you have to request them beforehand. Are you handy? Then you can likely handle a funyak.

Funyak, on the Racecourse in typical mid-summer conditions

Funyakking the Racecourse

One of our smaller rafts, on the Racecourse

Double funyak on the Racecourse section of the Rio Grande

Swimming a little fast water at After Five, photo by Jeff Heveron

Allison and her dad in a double funyak

Funyak negotiates Big Rocks Rapid, on the Racecourse

A gaggle of funyakers?

Out of the Raft at Sunset Rapid (Movie), Rio Grande

Out of the Raft at Sunset Rapid, Taos Box, Rio Grande, New Mexico

Taos Junction Rapid (aka Sunset Rapid) ends the Taos Box run on the Rio Grande, in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. It’s called Taos Junction Rapid because it’s just upstream of Taos Junction Bridge – this bridge having been named for the reason that it connected Taos and the Taos Junction station on the Chili Line, a narrow-gauge railway that once ran west of the gorge. Also, it’s located at the “junction” of a major tributary – Taos Creek – and the Rio Grande, Taos Creek being the source of the boulders that make the rapid.

In this high-water scene, Taos Creek enters the Rio Grande from the left. The big wave seen right of center is created by a large boulder that was deposited into the river by  flooding in Taos Creek. This is the big wave  seen in the movie that follows. Kathy Miller photo.

Taos Junction Rapid (aka Sunset Rapid), after a flood in Taos Creek that narrowed the Rio Grande. Taos Junction Bridge is seen downstream. Steve Miller photo.

Taos Junction Bridge

Sunset Rapid of the Taos Box.

Taos Junction Rapid (aka Sunset Rapid). Photo courtesy of Southern Exposure Photography

Many folks ask about what happens if you fall out of the raft. My typical answer is that we usually find you. But, to be serious, the following movie shows a good example of how we get you back. Points to notice: the guest did not let go of her paddle, which she could extend back to the raft to help pull her over; she got on her back with feet up to fend off rocks; she positioned herself next to the boat so that she could be pulled back in on her back, which is much easier than trying to pull her in on her stomach; it didn’t take long to get to her and get her back in – usually the water calms down after a rapid making it easier to chase after a “swimmer”. Watch it now!

For reservations visit: http://www.newwaverafting.com/

Or call: 800-984-1444

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!

2017 Run-off Will Be Well Above Average

2017 Run-off Will Be Well Above Average!

Run-off is predicted to be between 110% and 149% at various spots in the Rio Grande drainage of southern Colorado. See the light-blue and dark-blue circles in south-central Colorado. The peak is usually in early June – that’s when you want to run the Taos Box! Our 2017 season begins on April 15. Join our Taos Box trip scheduled for that day.

Snowpack percentages

Snowpack percentages

Powerline Falls in the Taos Box in high water

Powerline Falls in the Taos Box in high water

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

 

How Deep is the Water?

How Deep is the Water?

More often than you might imagine, prospective rafting customers ask me: “How deep is the water?”. Many people suppose that water depth is the only measure by which to assess the risk of drowning. “Is it over my head?”, is the implicit question. Of course, you can drown in shallow water, if you are unlucky enough. But most people know that, besides containing water, rivers are not like lakes. And lakes and oceans are where most people drown. Many people who drown in natural water settings are involved in recreational motorized boating accidents, are NOT wearing life jackets (Personal Flotation Devices aka pfds) and don’t know how to swim.

Rivers are similar to lakes in that the water near shore is usually not as deep as far from shore, but that can vary tremendously. Otherwise, there are many differences. Most river recreationists wear PFDs, and ALL commercial rafting participants wear PFDs, and often helmets. Rivers have current, while lakes do not. Current can get you in trouble, if you either fall out of a boat or the boat is overturned, because you must take action on your own behalf to return to the boat, go to shore or grab and hold onto a rope thrown to you. If the flow in the river is high, the current is correspondingly faster and more powerful, making you work harder to save yourself. Failing to get out of the river promptly exposes you to hazards, such as submerging you in certain river features or against obstacles found in the river, like tree limbs, and hypothermia (being dangerously cooled). This is why prospective rafting participants should ask whether the flow is high or not – not how “deep” it is. Another question a prospective rafter should ask is how shallow the river is. At low water, more rocks in the riverbed will be exposed, making it difficult to navigate. You might ask: “Is portaging (carrying) the raft required?” Otherwise, rivers have both deep and shallow spots. Rivers are generally deeper where the current is slow, and shallower where the current is fast, such as in rapids. So, in rivers, the deeper places are the safer places. Rapids occur where the river channel is narrower, and/or where rocks are scattered throughout, and/or where the riverbed drops more quickly. Rapids are rated on a 1-6 scale, with Class 3 being moderate difficulty/moderate danger, and 4 being more difficult/more dangerous. Most commercial raft trips take place on Class 3 water. Class 4 is for those wanting a greater challenge, and who are ready to accept the greater risks of the raft flipping over or being thrown from the raft, and the requirement to deal with turbulent water while getting to safety.

Final Drop rapid

Final Drop Rapid – Class 3. Racecourse, Rio Grande

Buzzsaw Rapid

Buzzsaw Rapid – Class 3. Taos Box, Rio Grande

The tight squeeze at the entry to Dead Car Rapid

Dead Car Rapid – Class 4. Taos Box, Rio Grande. Photo by Britt Runyon

Commercial rafting choices on most rivers usually include “float” trips – either on Class 1 (no waves) or Class 2 (small waves/little danger) water.

funyaking the bosque

Class 1. The Bosque, Rio Grande. Photo by Britt Runyon

Upstream view towards the put-in

Class 2. Racecourse, Rio Grande

When I’m asked: “How deep is the water” and/or told that the prospective participant can’t swim, you can guess what kind of trip I recommend.