Epic'ing on the Chama + Lake Fork & Kachina BC Ski 
Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 07:40 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I landed in ABQ at 6:30 on Weds and drove straight to the AMRC meeting. I had missed the last couple, so it was good to make an appearance. It's was good to see everyone. Afterward, I swung by the grocery store and then set to work on packing up for the Chama float. In 2 hours I had things mostly in order, had a drink with Jason, and went to bed with the understanding that Jason would get the rest of the things in order while I was at work. I bailed right away from the Solar ABCs webinar at 1:15, rushed back to my place, and Jason and I blasted up to the Chama put-in at El Vado damn in the 99. The lake was disgustingly low--at least 30' below it's high water mark. We weaseled our way onto someone else's permit, arranged the shuttle, and aired up the boats as the sun was setting. BUT there was a problem, the floor on my boat didn't hold air! It had a leak where the tubes attached, so I had to rig up my dry bags as a seat so I wouldn't sit in the 4-5" of water at the bottom of the soggy craft. I made do as best I could, but a couple miles down the river and my seat separated and I was sitting in 45-50ºF water. By sundown I was in mild hypothermia and getting worse. We pulled off and luckily found a perfect little camp spot just above Sleeper Rapid. I picked up my dry bag and noticed it had gotten a lot heavier. Oh no! I opened it up to assess the damage. I only loosely rolled both dry bags a couple times and now things were soaked. The med kit, tent, thermarest, and cooking stuff were drenched. As I picked up the tent bag water comically squirted out of the holes like a fountain. I had double bagged my sleeping bag so it was dry (thank goodness!). In the other bag with my clothes, about half my stuff was wet. Fortunately the big puffy survived and I threw that on to start thawing. The main problem was that my socks and shoes were drenched so I had to walk around barefoot on the cold ground. We got our fire going and Jason worked on cooking up the brots while I hung clothes and worked on drying socks and shoes by the fire. In our rush, there was some miscommunication and I didn't get yogurt or salad from the fridge, so we had to rough it with extra junk food.

We did 8 miles that first evening, so we only had a short 9 miles for Friday and could take our time in the morning. We took a long hike up to the rim of the canyon, patched the boat as best we could, and finally got on the water at 2pm. A couple miles downstream, we stopped off for a late lunch and a hike up Aragon Springs Trail. We camped at mile 17 in a beautiful spot. I brought grass-fed NM beef steaks for dinner and we eat them with Louisiana Hot Sauce and Santa Fe IPAs. I was very content on the river bank with warm food. The stairs came out in force and we kicked back to take in the cosmos.

In the morning, we did a little hike and then got to paddling at the crack of noon. There was not a whole lot of motive to get going early since it was so cold. Both nights dipped below freezing and there would be ice on the kayaks at daybreak. We kayaked passed the Christ in the Desert Monastery and made friends with the horses along the bank before getting serious, draining our last beers, and paddling the Class 3 Gaging Station and Screaming Left rapids to end the 31-mile trip.






Jason and I dipped the car south to Espanola and then right back up north to Taos for a backcountry ski on Sunday. Things had been cold enough to freeze all the corn snow solid, which made Jason move fast with the yaktrax, but I struggled with the skins on Mainstreet because I would slip back regularly. When I got to the summit of Kachina, there was no sign of Jason so I waited around with the few other folks up there, but he never showed up. Since we took different routes up, I thought there was a chance that he had a mechanical problem or was injured, but when I saw someone on the top of Lake Fork Peak and I knew that he had left me. Jerk! I managed to take the more exciting ridgeline up to Lake Fork and summitted with a few other folks. Jason and I then dropped the main chute, climbed the middle ridge, skied the back of the ridge, and hiked back up to Kachina again. Then it was a cruisy ride straight back to the car - the only problem was the sun cupped snow at the bottom. Otherwise it was fine, a whole month after it had closed for the season!




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