Lack of boatable water on the Verde and a late winter storm in the New Mexico Aldo Leopold Wilderness were the keys to this 40-mile, 4-day trip. The scenery exceeded all expectations and the boating was excellent. Despite having never met Mark or Byran prior to transit day, they proved good river companions. Do not know if I will ever again undertake a multi-day wilderness trip on such a beautiful river where absolutely nothing was known about rapids, campsites, or hazards.
The entire run is a hoot, but the sections through Murtock's Hole and from Monument Ridge to Turkey Creek are the pearls. The gradient through the second section is appreciably steeper and is class II (Gene's humble opinion) while the rest is I+. The lack of technical challenges didn't keep me from pinning in a moment of genuine stupidity and nonchalance. This river has some character. Trip reports and first-hand experiences for this section proved difficult to find but Mike/John (505-536-2250) at the Wilderness office proved helpful.
It was a real pleasure not to be rushed to make miles. Four days proved to be a leisurely float at the 200-300 CFS level. Rangers indicated 200 to be the transition point at which portaging IK's became more work than fun. If backpack light, 150-175 should still be doable. At 200 CFS, we were just clearing each riffle and an inch on the gauge meant something. Optimum IK levels would seem to be in the 300-400 range although it could became scary very quickly.
Dean at the rustic B and B Wilderness Lodge in Gila Hot Springs provided the shuttle. Cost was $125 and proved worthy of every penny. The drive from the Box Canyon Campground to the East Fork Bridge takes roughly 3 hours.
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