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The Piedra River Wood Cutting Trip: Ensuring Clean & Safe Rivers For All

By Tim Keresey   •   January 30, 2019

The Piedra River Wood Cutting Trip: Ensuring Clean & Safe Rivers For All

As rafting season approaches, there’s a lot of preparation that needs to take place on the outfitter end.  Guides have to prep boats after they’ve been stowed away for winter. Permits need to be finalized and vehicles need to be checked.  There’s also some more intense preparations that have to take place out on the river itself.

The Piedra River:

The Piedra River runs through some of the most beautiful wilderness lands in America.  Running through the Weminuche Wilderness and San Juan National Forest. The Piedra winds through epic gorges and thick, untouched evergreen forest. This dense forest can pose a hazard for those on the river. Each new year brings newly fallen trees and logs from upriver washing down. These logs join others in big logjams called “strainers.” Because of the remote nature of this river, there is no publicly funded maintenance to clear these hazards. That’s where Mild to Wild comes in.

Safety First:

Debris from the surrounding forest gets caught on rocks along the river’s bottom and banks. Sometimes they will fully obscure the path of the river. As the debris continue to build up it creates strainers. Strainers are bad news for anyone who happens to find themselves in the river. Water will pass through the strainer but pin a swimmer against the pile of wood. This will then drag them below the surface. In order to ensure the safety of river users, these obstacles need to be cleared out. 

Piedra River Rafting - Pagosa Springs CO - Mild to Wild Rafting

Before we take guests out on the river, the Mild to Wild raft guides take a trip down the river to scout out potential hazards and clear them. In April of 2017, a group of guides and a chain saw set out on the Piedra to clear these hazards. While Spring is in full swing come April in much of the country, up at the high altitudes of the San Juan National Forest, Winter is still holding on.  This was apparent on this day. Light snow greeted the guides at the put in. Freezing temperatures and snow wouldn’t be the types of conditions that would make most people want to go have fun on the water.  A river guide is a different breed and they enjoyed the chance to get out on the river. These guides relish the opportunity to experience the untouched wilderness at a time it is rarely seen. The tranquility of this dense alpine forest during a snowfall is an experience to be had. Without any sound other than the trickling of the river and the occasional buzz of a chainsaw it was a special trip.

Piedra River Rafting - Pagosa Springs CO - Mild to Wild Rafting

After a successful wood cutting trip out of the way, it’s only a few weeks before guests get to enjoy The Piedra.  With hazards cleared, you can be sure that if you choose to experience this pristine and beautiful wilderness with safety assured!

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