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Vail resident Jordan Kurt-Mason, in blue jacket, in front boat, guides family members and friends during a recent rafting trip down the Classs III, 14-mile Taos Box section on New Mexico's Rio Grande.

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Return to the river

Close calls and canyon floats on a pair of the Southwest's wild and scenic stretches

The age-old maxim that you cannot put your foot in the same river twice rang true this week on the Piedra River. This remote gem of a tributary comes screaming for a short runoff season out of the southern San Juan Mountains and into a tight and steep box canyon just west of Pagosa Springs. The 12-mile lower canyon stretch, which constricts into a series of Class IV and V drops, has long been a favorite of southwest Colorado paddlers. For the Durango-based outfitter I guided for more than six seasons, the Piedra was a proving ground.

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