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
We woke up this morning knowing we had a river with enough water to paddle. What we did not know was how long it was going to last. So we paddled with an unspoken hope that the water would last until we made it across the delta and into Elephant Butte Lake, which was some 55 miles away.
It went ridiculously smoothly.
We only had to walk the boats a handful of times. Springs kept popping up along the riverbank and the flow of the river gradually grew. There were actually small rapids where the river cut through the sediment of the delta it had built decades earlier when the lake was more than 70 feet higher than it is today.
The new delta was mostly dried out with a nice channel cut through all but the last quarter mile. We cautiously walked across the mud, sinking through the first six inches of fine sediment to a base layer that gave gently under our weight, but rarely broke. When it did, our legs would plunge down to mid-thigh and we would grab our boats for flotation and to stop from sinking farther. It was fun because it only happened a couple times.
In less than an hour we were across.
We arrived at the lake shore where Erich had parked the car to find Bob and Jacky Galloway and Judy and Smitty Smith cooking hotdogs on an open fire.
They offered their extras and we ate two each, with all the fixings we could stack on top. Then we took care of the remaining deviled eggs, cantaloupe and potato chips. They assured us they were leftovers and would be tossed if we did not eat them.
We had started the day 10 hours earlier at a camp where all we could hear was the whine of mosquitos. Tonight we go to sleep on the shores of the lake as RVs pull in to get ready for the long weekend. We can hear generators and the booming bass coming from car speakers.
We are wondering why we were in such a hurry to get here.
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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.