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HomeNL-2016-11 Background image

The Background Image Story
November, 2016
by John Rich

   Click to enlarge
The background photo this month comes from the Pecos River at the intersection with Painted Canyon.  I chose to feature this photo because I love the look of the canoes floating on the crystal clear emerald green water.  The water is so clear that you can see the shadows of the boats on the shallow bottom, giving them the appearance of floating in mid-air above the surface.
There is a wide rock ledge at this side canyon that makes a good camp site, but access by boat is a bit difficult. There is a steep rock edge, and only one tie-down point, consisting of a length of iron rod driven into a crack in the rock. So you exit your boat, stand chest deep in the water, and throw your gear up on top of the ledge, where someone else catches it and keeps it from rolling back into the water.

Since there isn't room for everyone to reach that one tie-down point simultaneously, other boaters will daisy-chain themselves in a line to the boat in front of them, so that they are all connected to that sole tie-down through each other.  And that keeps their boats from drifting away into the rapids.

Painted Canyon rapid   
There is a Class III/IV rapid starting just below this point.  And since you're camping there overnight, it makes sense to unload your boat of all your heavy gear beforehand, so that you can run the rapid light and maneuverable.  Or alternatively, to line your boat through the rock garden while it's empty and easy to steer with the bow and stern lines from the shore.  Then you tie-up the boat again at the bottom end of the rapid, and climb back up to your gear at the camp site.
   Ancient Pictograph
Painted canyon is a side canyon that enters the Pecos at this point, and it contains two fantastic rock art pictograph sites to which you can hike from this location.  There are also two more rock art sites downstream overlooking the Pecos, which you can reach by hiking along the rock ledges.  So you can take a layover "rest" day with no river paddling here, and spend the day hiking the canyons to see ancient art instead.  I put "rest" in quotes because the hike up the canyon is somewhat rigorous, as it is choked with boulders and brush.
When you're ready to depart the site, you haul your gear to the boats at the lower end of the rapid, lower your gear down to someone at the bottom of the ledge, pack up your boat, and paddle out from there.  If you have a motorized tow boat meet you where the river enters the flat-water lake part of the canyon, you'll be off river that afternoon.  If you paddle all the way out by yourself, you better add another day to your trip.

The author, John Rich