A group of ladies organized by Elizabeth Wallen, of Columbus, Ohio, bought out our June 1-3 Rio Chama Wilderness trip. By all accounts, they had a fabulous time! NWR staff included NWR President Kathy Miller, who says that she “wanted to start a rafting company so that the river trip would never end”.
Karen House and guests surf their raft at Souse Hole rapid, May 1, 2012.
The last day of the river season. It has been an interesting season, with unpredictable flows. It started out with low flows and not enough water for the Taos Box . In early May the river was at 400 and then dipped down to 350. We had a wet and cold May, with even some snow – which froze out the fruit for the season but gave us some additional water. So there was a Box season after all, although short. The beginning of the Dog Days of summer marked the end of the Box season. The peak flow was 1200 and that occurred somewhere around the 12th of June. Proving that our prophet (Britt) still has his touch.
Thanks to Kathy we had stellar Saturday night dinners – oh those ribs. Always soothing the wounded egos from the week. A little play at the horse shoe pit helped to encourage a friendliness in competition. Steve spent many evenings casting in the Rio Grande, catching smallmouth bass and trout and releasing them back again to the river. Not much different than his days in the office sitting over the keyboard waiting for the tug on his line. Reeling them in and then releasing them to the river. And boy did they enjoy the ride.
We have the photos to prove it. In keeping up with the times, the counsel of elders surrendered to the “social network” and we now have the means to woo the world through visual imagery. They chose Britt for the task and he didn’t let them down. The 2011 season has been visually and virtually documented and released to the world. Reminds me of the velvet underground line “people take pictures of the summer to prove that it really existed.” Which may be the case for those of us that know what we do. But for those that don’t, the vision was given to them and many said, I want to do that – once again affirming that our participation is required and when it comes to the Web, you must be present to win. Which brings me to Kathy – she stepped up to join the Dixon Volunteer Fire department. We are grateful for our local fire department and now proud to say that one of our own is representing us. This incidentally coincided with the fact that collectively we gave up smoking cigarettes. Not a butt was sucked on, inhaled, or stomped on. Now how many river companies can say that. Ultimately the deciding factor was the personal choice to honor the clean air act, inside and out.
The August Rio Chama trip was a personal achievement for Karen in that she and the crew Rhino and James pulled off a wilderness trip for members of a rehab center. The hardest challenge was finding guides that could stay sober for 72 hours. Orlando, who is known for his ability to think out of the box, became a Box guide this year. Honorable mention goes out to James who not only built his own plane, but rowed the Box on several occasions. We are especially thrilled that he made a safe landing in both instances. And how can we forget about Ben. Yes, that quiet little warehouse mouse who works his magic and leaves all of us wondering how did this ever get done. We are SO glad you are around.
What else you say? You want more? I can’t go on any longer. The clock is ticking and we are nearly done with the clean up.
In closing I’d like to say that on the surface it may appear that it was just another river season, same ole, same ole. But I choose to look at New Wave as a place where we can discover talents and our dreams come true. A Wilderness Therapist looking for a vehicle, a videographer/photographer, a massage therapist, artist, a father, student, a musician or courageous newbies that seek the happy-go-lucky river guide life. It is the veteran guides that know that running rapids ain’t for sissys. After all, the river is here for everyone, but not everyone is meant for the river.
Thank God for New Wave (or Kathy and Steve).
Karen House has been with NWRCo. for over 15 years. She has a Masters Degree in Wilderness Therapy and runs her own counseling business, which has included counseling soldiers returned from combat duty. She also created a catering business for expeditionary raft adventures. She is a true Renaissance woman. Here are a few images from just a couple of her whitewater guiding adventures down the Taos Box on the Rio Grande River of Northern New Mexico.
Rio Chama Wilderness trip, 6/3-5
To the river
Posted on June 14, 2011 by growingmygirls
Girls on the river!
The girls and I went rafting for three days just as school ended on the Chama river in northwestern New Mexico. The river is a fairly calm one, good for kids, excellent for a hyper mother’s nerves, and the scenery is world-class with huge bare cliffs with yellow, white and red stripes, tall Ponderosas and wide, wide blue skies. A golden eagle flew directly over our heads, we saw dinosaur prints captured in stone from when NM was a muddy swamp millions of years ago and floated by a Benedictine monastery as Sunday morning services started.
A big highlight, grown-ups included, was playing at the mouth of the Gallina River, a small tributary that turns to six inches of soft, spa-quality mud when it joins the Chama. All of us completely indulged our primal selves in lovely squishy stuff. I fingered war paint on my face, B took on grown men in the mud-flinging battles, while L ran around happily but being careful to allow on only her feet and ankles to get muddy.
And as it goes with wilderness trips, we had a few challenges and we vanquished them all successfully.
Since I’ve done a tiny bit of boating before, the friend who ran the trip urged me and another mom to take our own boat. We resisted and went as passengers. Good decision: at the end of a school year, the work of just simply being self-sufficient in camping for three, plus helping pack and unpack the rafts twice a day was much too overwhelming for me to add in rowing for several hours. My first day, I dozed in the sun . But I didn’t completely escape rowing. On the last day, I was “ordered” to run a small rapid, so row I did: straight into sharp sticks poking out of the water and a few rock walls. Finally, with arms aching to an embarrassing degree, and mind still confused about which hand/oar would propel us in which direction, we slipped sideways (the goal is nose-first) down the Skull Bridge rapid. Amazingly, we stayed right side up. Hooray.
Both girls slept for two nights in the “kids castle”, a giant tent brought generously by another dad. The girls had lanterns and buddies, but struggled with knowing that there was a dark wilderness out there between them and mom in another tent if they changed their mind. And, bless them, they worried about me, no matter how much I insisted they should do what they wanted. L finally put it best, “Mom, last trip I slept with you, so this time, I’m going to the kids tent.”
No matter what I was telling them, this independence was an adjustment. I’d imagined this trip as together time for us, but given that there were seven kids on the trip, including two “big” 11-year-old boys, I ended up being the background support team. I’m still struggling with that role, but I was tired enough to not fight it and sit by the campfire happily at night while they roamed around.
B and L both paddled and rowed the big oars, and played ruthlessly in the water wars between boats. I learned that B is a crack shot with a super soaker and an ace at coming up with irritating nicknames to bug the big boys in defense of her sister. One of the 11-year-olds was called a “bosom” in retribution for earlier teasing offenses. Indignant, he turned to me and said “You let your daughter say that!!!” I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. Why not? The girls had been contemplating much worse.
I learned that L., no matter how despondent at the way social dramas are unfolding, will come for a little comforting, but then throw herself back into the fray until she gets to where she wants to be. The older boys confused her in a variety of ways, but she persevered until she felt comfortable. I’d wish for her that she just not worry about it, but she took her own road. The prize? Later, she noted how the sixth-grade boys on the school playground intimidated her last year, but after this trip, she no longer felt so afraid of older boys. Just what we’re looking for!
But thank goodness, both of them also talked a lot about the animals they had seen, how much they like sleeping in a tent, the scavenger hunt they went on (prime item to find: elk poop), the deer skull someone found, the plants they learned to identify. I never did this stuff as a girl in the east – never experienced the feeling of being away in a place where nature is bigger than you no matter what, for a long enough time that it seeps in. I’m determined that my girls know this, see the elemental power of the earth, even if they end up on the 45th floor of some apartment building in a giant city.
At least they’ll have known it, and maybe can find it deep within themselves later in life to save them, as it has saved me, no matter – especially no matter — what the boys are doing.
Note: check out New Wave Rafting, the awesome company that took us on our trip!