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
After two days of waiting for the sun to come out and the river to go down, we spent the weekend making as many miles as we could while taking as few risks as possible.
We did not really have any other option about the miles. Most of the campsites and access points to the side canyons are either still under water or coated in mud so slick that it makes walking on level ground difficult. Tonight we were lucky to find some rock slabs level enough to sleep on and just above the floodplain. With the river flowing high, we also can average close to 6 mph in the flat sections of the river.
The high water also makes the rapids a bit more exciting as they often don’t resemble what is in the guidebook. We spent at least half of our time climbing up and down muddy riverbanks through tunnels of cane so we could get on top of rock outcrops. From the high vantage point we could get a view of the river and plan our moves.
Rodeo Rapid was blown out into a long line of standing waves, so we portaged the laptops and cameras and I took the canoe through with the bow riding high and bouncing over the wave tops.
We did the same for the upper half of Upper Madison Falls and then portaged everything around the lower half.
At Panther Gulch, most of the rocks were under water and all we had to do was not run into or get too near the overhanging cliff.
At San Francisco Rapid, which is almost identical, we did not feel the same confidence and the submerged rocks did not look as friendly. We broke out the long lines and waded the shore as we guided the canoe through a shallow side channel.
We are now almost through the Lower Canyons. It seems a crime to rush through them like this. The walls are constantly changing in their color and texture. But our food supply is limited and we have promises to keep. If I had to choose one place on the Rio Grande to return to, this would be it.
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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.