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Friday, December 19, 2014

Rio Grande provides peaceful river float

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By Aaron Sweet / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Isek Stotz, river guide for Quiet Rivers, keeps an eye on today’s group as they row down river. Stotz said he loves seeing the reactions of those in his groups to the beauty of the river.

Most people dream of a quiet commute as they pass the Rio Grande day to day, yet it is that body of water that offers the most peaceful ride of all.

Michael Hayes, the owner of Quiet Waters Paddling, said he has always loved taking people out onto the river.

His objective has been to turn people on to what the mid-Rio Grande has to offer, he said.

“Whitewater is about adrenaline and thrill, whereas the middle Rio is a very serene, scenic, laid-back experience that I’ve often equated to the act of meditation,” Hayes said.

Neither experience is superior; paddling is more relaxing and allows for a broader audience, he said.

“The other thing — and I hear this from families all the time — is that it’s such a mellow river that families are totally comfortable (bringing) young kids along,” he said.

Hayes conceived of his paddling business after staying near the river at the Coronado Campground, he said. Shortly after, he began to take tourists from in and out of state canoeing down the Rio, he said.

“It occurred to me that all the river outfitters in the state of New Mexico at the time were operating on whitewater,” Hayes said. “And yet, if you look at national participation studies, the interest in serene float trips, which is what the middle Rio offers, outpaces interest in whitewater ten-to-one.”

Isek Stotz, who has been guiding Quiet Waters Paddling tours for three years, said the increased rain lately hasn’t affected business.

“Up here in Albuquerque the river channel is much wider, so it’s much shallower; the current is much lower,” Stotz said.

Many people drive over the river at least twice a day, but don’t have a real relationship with the water, he said. Stotz hopes that after a tour, people might want to spend more time around Albuquerque’s source of life.

“When people want to go do recreation, they don’t want to learn skill … people take shortcuts,” Stotz said.

Growing up off the grid with no running water or television has given Stotz a love for the outdoors, he said.

Stotz hopes tourists gain the self-confidence from their paddling experiences to be comfortable on the water, he said. He said he feels that the different techniques needed to avoid hazardous objects are essential to kayaking at all speeds.

“Kayaking is a very low-risk sport,” he said. “You’re more likely to have a fatality on the drive over than you would out here.”

Bob Carleton attended the guided tour, and was one of two in the group with previous paddling and canoeing experience.

“I did a little bit of river stuff as a kid back in the early ‘50s, and a few years ago did some river kayaking in Tahiti,” said Carleton.

Although he didn’t have fun during his trip to Tahiti because of the unpleasant sitting position, he found canoeing to be absolutely comfortable, he said.

“If I had to do it for eight hours, my bum would have been dead,” Carleton said.

Steve Seiffret said he was not new to canoeing, but that this was his first time doing so with his friend Carleton.

He thoroughly enjoyed the tour and would recommend it to others who enjoy scenic views, he said.

“Not this week, maybe,” Seiffret said.

After nine and half miles he needed a little break, he said.

Moriah Carty is a freelance writer for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture@dailylobo.comor on Twitter @MoriahCarty.