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
Last night, as we paddled against a dying headwind looking for a campsite, Mike thought he heard a chicken. Then he saw something move on the cliffs to his right.
We never found out what made the chicken sound, but we saw a bobcat climbing up the cliffs into Mexico.
The cat did not seem to mind when we paddled over to get a closer look. It gazed down from 20 feet above the water and seemed it could not care less as we admired its white coat with black spots and streaks. But it did give us several different poses.
Then we saw a second bobcat, this one with orange and white markings, like a small tiger. It also posed for us in a nonchalant manner, giving us both profile and straight on eye contact. After the four-minute photo shoot, the cats wandered away from the cliff edge.
It’s how things go on Amistad. Nothing stays for long.
Amistad Reservoir is famous for bass fishing and small-craft warnings. Both result in dangerous conditions for canoes.
The bass fishermen prefer high-speed motorboats with long, flat decks. They kick out a short, steep wake and from the water it is very difficult to tell if the driver sees you or not as they skip over the water at 40 mph.
The southeast winds push up 4-foot high waves in the open reaches of the lake that are ideal for swamping small boats.
Such conditions make canoes rare on the reservoir. People who do paddle tell stories of hugging the shoreline, making the crossing twice or three times as long. Others end up going even slower as they wade the rocky beaches while towing their boats.
We had none of that. We launched at 7:30 a.m. onto water that was as flat as glass and paddled directly into a fog bank. A light westerly wind picked up behind us and we skipped from point to point, never quite leaving the sight of land, but never really being sure where it was. We navigated by map and compass and listened for the whine of approaching motorboats.
We made as many miles as we could, taking only one mid-morning break. We were worried that at any moment the wind would shift and we would be stuck.
Instead the fog lifted and the tailwind gained strength.
We flew across the lake. By lunchtime we had made 18 miles and were paddling up to Amistad Dam. It was a huge relief and I smiled like a fool. I thought we were going to be stuck on the lake until Monday.
I’m sure the bobcats were not impressed.
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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.