by Colin McDonald | Feb. 11, 2015
The Rio Grande is disappearing. Demand for water is growing as snow packs shrink, rain patterns shift and average temperatures rise faster than they ever have in the past 11,000 years.Read more
The horses are everywhere. We have found their droppings and skeletons scattered around our camps. While we are paddling, we see them chomping down on just about everything green on both sides of the river.
It is another problem made more complicated by the fact that the river is a border.
By law, livestock aren’t supposed to cross the border without being inspected at official ports of entry. They don't seem to care and while there are miles of fences along the Mexican bank of the river, the horses and cows find ways to cross. The pastures and scrubland of Big Bend National Park must be tempting.
Livestock caught on the U.S. side of the river gets quarantined and then auctioned off to the highest bidder. Our guides tell us they are rarely if ever returned to their owners.
We have only seen two people outside our party during the last four days. They were cowboys from Mexico looking to round up horses that had crossed over. They did not want their photograph taken.
Crossing the river has always been an issue. Our camp last night was in the only section of Mariscal Canyon without sheer cliffs. It was the easiest place to cross for miles in either direction. A boulder that served as a sort of gateway to the crossing was covered with petroglyphs.
Someone or a group must have spent a lot of time by the river at this spot. I’m sure they wanted to cross.
It seems the grass is always greener on the other side.
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As they travel, Colin and Erich are taking water samples for the following periodic water quality tests. In partnership with The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team Program at Texas State University, the results will be added to a public database it helps maintain for research and monitoring water quality.
While making his way to the Gulf of Mexico, Colin will be periodically activating a device that uses satellite technology to share his current location. Use this map to see where he traveled on this day.
|Check-In||Time of Check-In (CST)||Latitude||Longitude|
To report on and understand the haphazard irrigation system the Rio Grande has become and the changes it is going through, Colin decided the best approach would be to travel the length of the Rio Grande by foot and small boat.
He knew it would give him a unique perspective on a river that few understand. It did require many long days of moving slowly and camping on muddy riverbanks, but Colin likes that sort of thing.
The benefit was it provided access to people who wanted to share their stories and experiences with the Rio Grande. Via Facebook and chance encounters, Colin made instant friends who opened their homes. They provided help from loaning their trucks to their cell phone contact lists to help tell the story of the Rio Grande.
The trip would not have been possible without their help, along with the dedicated assistance of David Lozano, Jason Jones and Daniel Dibona, who drove thousands of miles to get people and boats in place.