The Vallecitos creek in New Mexico is pretty unknown to most folks. The Upper section that drains south of the Brazos pass has been run twice. Once by Ed lucero and crew back in the mid 90's and again a couple years ago by Jesse King and Evan? Reports of it being an awesome run, to not worth it, filtered around. The lower class 3-4+ day run is steller, so Mike Pagel, Mitchell smith and myself decided to try and get on the Upper section (class 5). Jesse King had put on way high up at Hopewell lake and had to contend with miles of flatwater. I spent tons of time looking at google maps and topos and found a way in just below the first short gorge. This would make the shuttle really short and the hike minor (or so I thought). If the run was really good, we could go back and check out the first canyon.
Day 1: Got up at 4am and rallied to meet Mitchell at the takeout. The night before I made Pagel pack up all his stuff in the truck so that we could blaze early and not forget anything. Guess what? We make the takeout and with a sinking feeling, I realize that I had left my gearbag in my trailer down by the river. We also forgot beer! Full bummer mode going on. So we decide to take my truck up towards the putin and just do a recon and come back Sunday for the actual run.
Pagel and Mitch clearing the way. The forest service road was pretty remote and unused.
So about 8 miles in, I got us stuck really really bad, and we had no beer! We tried everything to get out but didn't have any luck. Mitch was ordered to hike back the 8 miles to get his truck. He wasn't to happy about this but Pagel and I are way bigger than him and we didn't have beer. Pagel and I slept, played hacky sack, ate, did target practice and thought about beer while Mitch hiked.
Having Lunch while Mitch hiked.
Pagel pointing out the fact that we are stuck, while Mitch hiked.
Mitch finally made it back and promptly got stuck himself. We got him out and he was able to tow us out. We called it a day. After 9 hrs stuck (without beer) 4 hours driving, we made it back to my place for bonfire and beer. Mitch couldn't make it back to try again the next day, so it would be just Pagel and I. Big thanks to mitchell for having all the necessary tools to get us unstuck. Without him, Pagel and I would still be up there and still beer-less. Thanks to Carrie Wallace for helping with the shuttle and carrying Pagel's boat for most of the hike. She also took some cool photos. Mud bog below, I still have mud on me...
Starting the hike at the end of the forest service road. We packed for an overnighter just in case and our boats were insanely heavy. That was okay because I had figured out that the hike was only about a mile. Yeah right!
Pagel explaining to me that the shortcut over the ridge, was in fact a shortcut. For some reason he has a big adversion to well traveled trails.
Pagel giving me the silent treatment during my questions about "said" shortcut.
The heavier than lead mega taking me for a sled ride.
Making it to the little side tributary that feeds into the Vallecitos.
Pointing to the large amount of water in trib...
1 mile into the hike
3 miles into the hike. (I'm beginning to realize I need a topo reading class) The boats were really heavy at this point. Thnkfully most of the hike was across this never ending meadow. We kept expecting landowners to be flying up at any moment on 4 wheelers with guns drawn. Amazing to me that even in the most remote places there are fences everywhere.
Finally made the river. Pagel puting a new gasket on.
Flow was around 600cfs... Looked good
First portage (it went, but some good safety would need to be set up) 95% of the river slammed into the boulder on the right and then all the water funneled left through a 10 ft drop. I didn't get many photos of the run. My battery went dead. But I posted a few below.
Good boulder drop section
After some good read and run with some major stressing out small eddies factor above huge drops. We came to a massive horizon line (no photos) the run just dropped of the face of the earth for a quarter mile. It was huge drops landing and going through sieves. Some of it may have been pieced together, but not much. Pretty impressive. Kida like some of the big unrunnable drops on the Brazos but longer and more vertical. While we were hiking around this cascade, we stumbled on an old old cabin. Pretty cool to find.
A section of the cascade..
Some good drop below the cascade
Pagel on the runout
Typical boulder fun.
Quick conclusion of the run: If you are looking for an adventure, this is good for that. It will keep you on your toes and there are some good quality rapids. There are also portages, dead cows and must make eddies to avoid certain doom. If your looking for a good quality Embudo style run, this is not it. If you get an early start and put in where we did, the run is easily done in a day. heavy boats suck. I'm still curious about the first canyon. Thanks to Pagel for dragging my scared ass down this run and to Carrie for helping out so much. Atom....
PS, we had beer at the takeout
Gauge for NM Vallecitos (need at least 600 cfs)