The Season of Three Permits: Trip 1

This year has proven to be one most fortunate for me. Having not drawn a permit yet again I was fortunate to be invited on three. The first of which was the Rio Chama in late May. The drive was beautiful as the landscape transitioned from high desert, to the Conejos Canyon, over Cumbres Pass and finally into Chama New Mexico.

Conejos Canyon on the way to Chama New Mexico
Conejos Canyon

The Chama is nestled in a green valley of sedimentary rock, with thick stands of Ponderosa, Douglas-Fir, Cottonwood and many others. The divorcee who runs the lodge at the put in (his ex-wife runs the campground) was nice, albeit seemingly cognitively limited by what one would imagine was a lifetime of alcoholism.

The rain began at 5 am on our launch day. I know this because I was sleeping uncovered on the ground next to the boat. The rain didn’t stop for over 12 hours. While there are plenty of campsites and you are not limited by a number of days on the permit we moved quickly in order to reach Chama Wall.

Rain at the Put In
Rain All Day on the Chama
Hot Springs near Rio Nurtrias
Hot Springs on Rio Chama

Chama Wall was advertised as one of the best campsites along the wilderness section of river. The sandstone cliff opposite the river towered over our campsite. The sunsets in the evening brought all the colors of the sandstone out of the massive canyon face.

View from Chama Wall campsite
Chama Wall
Chama Wall from Kitchen

This campsite is fantastic. You could sleep 15+ people here as there are plenty of campsites both close to the water and then on the terrace above the main landing area. This was the first time I had brought the “cowboy wok” on a river trip. Being as they are made by a veteran in Albuquerque it was only fitting to break it in on a New Mexico river trip.

Boat parking for Chama Wall campsite
Landing for Chama Wall

We took a layover day, and with it, the opportunity to fish Salmonflies & Caddis.

Not far after Chama Wall the canyon gave way to the desert. The gradient slowed and from the river you got a great view of The Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

Monastery of Christ in the Desert
Tending to the Fields

As a final note, I’d like to thank the state of New Mexico for installing bollards in the middle of a quarter million dollar boat ramp so it is un-useable. What we needed was a good two hours of de-rigging before the drive home.

Thanks for the Bollards

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