Earning Our Turns
This is one of my favorite runs anywhere in the world. I hadn't done it in years. In fact the last time I was up there was 1998 I think. Once again we had the crew we had been traveling with. Billy, Aaron, Jennifer, and I were joined by Luke from the
Durango area, and at the take out we ran into an adventure waiting to happen.
Looking At The Rock Shift In No Way Out
There was a small group of folks at the take out trying to get all set up to actually do the first RAFT descent of Vallecito. We were a little skeptical to say the least. I had been skeptical before when the fellas ran the Green a year ago, so I tried to stay open minded as I watched them heft the raft and head up the trail. If you don't know Vallecito it is a tight tight technical run with a couple spots in it that exiting the river is nearly impossible. The potential of those guys for swims and flips was very high.
We headed up the trail with the intention of helping those guys out if they needed it, but we also had a first timer with us and some nerves about the new shift in the rocks at "No Way Out" that we had heard about. It was a great first time level, and I was psyched to be back after so long.
Nice Line Jennifer
The very first drop is a sweet 6 foot boof, then a sketchy little log dodge, and then a little warm up and get ready for Entrance falls which is a beautiful drop. One of my favorite boofs around.
Trash Can Rapid
We waited a long time at the bottom of the drop for the raft as well as scouting out Trach Can which just below Entrance falls. The raft didn't show for a long time so I started wondering if they had second thoughts and the group including the other potential safety boater started downstream thinking that maybe they had bailed.
Fuzzy Bunny One of the Softest Boof Around
The fun thing I remember about Vallecito is that most of the directions for the rapids are "just follow the water", or "give it down the middle". We were doing pretty well for the most part. There is this one funky rapid call Pick Up Sticks that pretty much tumped everyone over but no issues. The video footage of that is pretty funny cause no one really made it look smooth.
We got a ways down there and got to a two rapid series. Very small eddies between the two rapids and both are fairly substantial drops. It was taking us a while to get all scouted and lined up when around the corner came, the RAFT. We had all our group down except Jennifer who was scouting and getting in her boat when the raft came down and that is when all hell broke loose. One guy falls out in the first rapid and doesn't get back in the boat until the end of the first drop. The other guy in the raft didn't see his buddy get in the raft and he must have thought he was in an eddie or something because the next thing I know is I see this guy jumps out to try to stop I guess but doesn't stop the raft pretty much at the same time as the first guy is climbing in. So there he is just getting it together to drop into the next rapid by himself. He actually ended up styling the drop, but the other guy was in an eddie where he couldn't walk upstream, downstream, or out of the river. So he had to buck up and swim across the river between the two drops. Luckily he made it and after a bit we had them back together.
The Jump From The Raft
Going Solo Through Paddle Bitch
This all took about an hour to get sorted out so our whole group had gotten a little disconbobulated. So peoples rythms were off and bad lines ensued for the rest of the run. Makes for good video but a slightly nerve racking finish to the run. The raft flipped in No Way Out and some wall banging happened with the kayakers, but it seemed to me that the new rock shift was good to go. Luckily the run ends with a super smooth little 6-7 foot boof so everyone could get the good feel back.
Everyone got out safe and sound and we were all happy to have dry clothes on and a cold beer in hand.
Here is the video footage. I broke it into two segments so the videos aren't quite so large.
Vallecito Part 1
Vallecito Part 2