Thursday, July 09, 2009

Rafting the Racecourse

We knew it was going to be fun, but I didn't realize just how much fun we'd have floating "The Racecourse" on the Rio Grande. I was so excited I got us there an hour early. I thought I'd never hear the end of it but, Mitch was very gracious about waiting at the Rio Grande Gorge Visitors Center on Hwy 68 in Pilar, New Mexico, just a short drive south of Taos.

I've always thought of the Rio Grande as a slow, meandering river, but at this point in its location it is fast, and occasionally furious. The river originates as melting snow high in the Rocky Mountains, and through thousands of years, the raging spring floods have carved a deep, remote and beautiful canyon across the Taos Mesa, which in 1968 was designated by Congress the nation’s first Wild and Scenic River. Our guides with Los Rios River Runners were experienced, informative and kept the class III float exciting, but at the same time, instilling a sense of safety in us during our downstream journey.

We received lots of instruction, and our life vests were checked for tightness by the main guide. Then when we again instructed specifically on rowing techniques and safety by our raft guide, Brian. We were also instructed on what to do, should the raft overturn, which did not happen. Mitch and I had opted to wear shorts, not bathing suites, and while we got soaked, I think this was the best option for us.

We chose the half-day trip on "The Racecourse," which proved to be exhilarating and challenging. I don't think I would have wanted to step up any higher than a Class III float. Los Rios River Runners also offer full day floats and overnight camping floats with meals provided.

After we landed down stream we were provided a snack while the crew loaded the rafts back on the trailer before taking us back up to Pilar. Tortillas and salsa never tasted so good!--Ruth Mitchell

(c) 2009 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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