San Francisco River - Glenwood NM to Clifton AZ- April, 2010 - Part I

We left Tucson at 7am and headed up to Clifton to pick up our shuttle driver. The shuttle is about 1.5 hours each way so I would highly recommend having a driver. Another benefit was that Mark, our driver kept our truck at his house because there have been reports of theft and vandalism at the take out. He was very helpful and is one of the many area residents that was laid off by the mine so he was very happy to run our shuttle and store our truck for $120.

We got to the put in at the Glenwood hot springs at noon and were on our way at 12:30. The gage at Clifton read 750 CFS when we put on. I would not recommend running the river at much higher because there were many trees across the river that we were just able to squeak under with out inches to spare. We put on with me in my creek boat and then two IKs. The water at the put in was moving very swift, about 5-6 mph with out any paddling. I also wouldn’t recommend running this river in anything larger than an IK. The river was full of strainers that a larger boat wouldn’t have made it through. We quickly moved into a walled in canyon where the river was about 10 feet wide and never went more than 50 feet with out winding around a corner. Scouting was very difficult to impossible on most corners but luckily we never found a strainer on the entire run that didn’t have some type of way over, under, or around. There were plenty of must make routes that had nasty consequences if missed.

About three hours in we stumbled into one of these situations. We were eddying out to check out a cave when one of the IKs got pushed back into the current and wrapped a tree. I was a few yards down stream and gave chase to the all the gear that was escaping down river. With about a mile of pursuit I was able to save a the spare paddle , two beers , and the lid to the cooler. We lost a carbon paddle, the pump and the rest of the cooler with some food and drink. I stashed my boat and recovered gear on an island and bushwacked my way back up stream. On a side note this was the first time I was wearing my new Palm drysuit and I am totally impressed with it. It was incredibly tough and puncture resistant as I had to push my way through a lot of nasty downed trees and then swam in the river multiple times to cross since I would get walled in on one side. I am very happy with this dry suit.
PaddleOn River Images