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
It is amazing what a little rain can do. For the last three days, we’ve been working on the logistics of how to get through the 70 miles of mosquito-infested and sediment-clogged river between Elephant Butte Dam and us.
On all the other challenging sections, people who had never seen the river would tell us the rapids would destroy our boats and drown us or that downed trees would make the canyons impassible. They were difficult to ignore, but fortunately wrong.
Here in San Antonio and Socorro, the people who have seen the river, who work with it on a daily basis, who are charged with keeping the meager flows moving and reaching Elephant Butte, simply tell us it will be difficult.
It is a terrifying description because it is coming from people who are not prone to exaggeration. These are farmers and scientists, people who make their livings by correctly reading environmental conditions. Most of them are also boaters. If it were going to be fun, they would jump at the opportunity to join us.
None of them are. The ideal craft for this section is an airboat that can skim across a quarter-inch of water at 60 mph.
That worry, combined with lack of sleep and the challenge of writing and taking photos in temperatures hovering around triple digits — all while learning how the Rio Grande works — had me muttering and kicking rocks this morning.
I was tired and frustrated with constant fundraising and planning. There are great stories here on the river that I don’t feel I am capturing.
And then the rain came down. It came with a roar of white noise that covered all other sounds. Flash flood warnings were announced on the radio. The temperature of the air and the river dropped. The sky would clear and then another deluge would come. I launched in a downpour that put half an inch of water in the bottom of the canoe in less than half an hour.
It may sound foolish to launch a canoe in such conditions and maybe it was. But the river only rose a few inches and I could make miles again without having to wade in knee-deep mud. Within an hour I was taking out my sunglasses and hat. The sky was a deep blue. Suddenly everything was all right.
The rain is expected to keep coming and I will ride the crest as far and as fast as I can.
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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.