Down here at the far southern tail of the Rockies, runoff season is beginning. We’ll get a few more winter storms yet in all likelihood, but the days in between are much warmer and the snowpack is starting to go. I thought this photo provided a pretty decent illustration of the fundamentals of water in the west. The Santa Fe River is often nothing but a dry arroyo these days, but in the spring and during the heavy summer rains, it sometimes revives. The easiest place to see it when it runs is downtown Santa Fe, but far more spectacular is downstream where it cuts through the La Bajada enscarpment.

Even after a terrific winter, with all the snow still on the Sangre de Cristos, the Santa Fe remains a very small river. All New Mexico rivers are small; many visitors are incredulous upon first having the Rio Grande pointed out to them. But these little waterways are expected not just to maintain current populations, but foster endless growth.

We’re off in a few minutes to run a somewhat larger stream, the Gila. The Wilderness section from Gila Hot Springs to Mogollon Creek is a run that many contemplate but few actually attempt. But we’ve got a boat, a four-day weekend and a once-in-a-decade flow outlook, so we’re giving it a go. Pictures soon, with any luck!

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