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Rio Grande - Feb 2017

Ed/ Peggy Landers, E.J. Douglas/Anna Hogan and Mike Watson/Ellen Powell all arrived Sunday with Debby Thomas, AJ “Waterdog” Johnson and I arrived on Monday. Monday was a settle-in day for many and others sightseeing and hiking.

Wow, Monday night was scary, oh yes! Pouring rain and hail started in the early evening and continued throughout the night. It sounded like golf balls. But think goodness all was okay the next morning, no car or camper damage. Mike and Ellen in a tent were smart and had pitched their tent under a wooden lean-to. AJ having arrived Monday, slept in his truck that night. He was lucky to have dodged the bad stuff.

Tuesday folks scattered in many directions, hiking and sightseeing in the park. Wednesday was “cross the border day at Boquillas” except for AJ and yours truly. I waited at Rio Grande City for the others to return. They crossed thru the border crossing filling out lots of papers both going and coming. The story is that they rode a small boat across the Rio Grande, rode burros, shopped and ate in Mexico. On returning, we all headed to the hot spring. It was about a mile hike down to the spring that was stoned-in and right on the side of the Rio Grande. Anna, Debby and I went into the spring with others dipping toes and legs in the spring.

Thursday 7 of us, Ed, Mike, Ellen, A.J., E.J., Anna and I put-on at 1 P.M. for our overnighter on the Rio Grande paddling through Boquillas Canyon. We paddled 5 hours through the gorgeous canyon. It was a first time for me to paddle in a canyon with 1200’ canyon walls, wow. Layers of rocks turned in many directions from all the tectonic plate movements billions of years ago. We saw horses on both sides of the river, lots of turtles and cows and goats on the Mexican side. We were headed to “Rabbit Ears” to overnight but stopped at 6 P.M. before we reached that point. Turned out that was a good decision as the banks at Rabbit Ears was high and it was overgrown. WIND, oh yes. We all had challenging time pitching our tents in the high wind and walking in the thick 12” grass. A few of us fell several times getting hung up in the grass or slipping on it. No fire that night but visiting and telling stories after the pitching was completed. Of course, we were visited by aliens that night and the next morning….for the full story, you’ll have to ask Anna and AJ…lol.

Friday morning we were all happy to have the wind. Yep, for most of the time, we had a tail wind and were able to go about 4 mph. We had a great day on the river. We didn’t get wet, Ed and I in kayaks, until about 3 miles from the take-out. We had a fun rapid to run and several other rapids. Everyone made them with no problem. After the take-out, Mike, Ellen and Anna headed back to Memphis. We hated to see them go.

Saturday was another day for sightseeing and just chilling and enjoying the beauty of the area. We welcomed two more to our group, Cathey Cole and Margaret “Spikie” Smith.

Sunday was moving day; we were all off to Lajitas and another week of adventures.

At Lajitas, we were joined 4 more of our group, Bill Rehberg. Linda Hendershot, Marty Rice and Susan Iverson. Monday was a day for settling in and scouting the river. It was decided on Monday that we’d paddle a 3-4 mile section on Colorado Canyon. On Tuesday, 4 kayakers, Ed, Cathey, Debby and I put on with two tandem canoes, E.J./Margaret ”Spikie” and A.J./Susan at La Cuesta and taking out at Grassy Banks(misnamed, it should have muddy/slick banks). We put-on around 11 and just around the corner 50 yards from the put-in, we encounters a swift, narrowing left turn in the river. There was a group of canes in a clump out in the middle, a break and then 20’ strip of cane continuing down the middle of the river. The kayakers made it through but both canoes turned over. We rescued AJ and Susan and then realized that EJ and Margaret’s canoe was pinned. It was wrapped around the clump of cane. Thank goodness they were both safe. With Margaret, on the bank, pulling on the throw rope when they told her to pull. EJ and AJ were in the water working hard to get the boat freed to no avail. We loaded the blue barrel in AJ’s canoe and other gear and EJ and Margaret walked out to the put-in. They now have their own “Rio Grande cane” story. The cane is so thick that it is very, very hard to walk through. Margaret said that she was afraid to lose sight of EJ because it was so thick that she was afraid that she’d not be able to find him.

When we took out at Grassy Banks the outfitters there said that they had been lining boats around the area where the canoes turned over. They also said that water in Santa Elena Canyon was low and it would be hard for canoes to make it over the rock slide but that kayaks would be fine. Ed called it that it would be too technical, manipulating around the rocks and boulders and without an adequate number to paddle, we’d not do the Santa Elena Canyon.

On Wednesday many of us headed to Presidio, about 50 miles west of Lajitas, to eat at a John Edgar recommended Mexican café and scout the river on the way back. Again, it was determined that we’d not do Santa Elena Canyon but all continue to enjoy hiking and sightseeing. It is a wonder at every turn with rock layers and many colored rocks and shapes of the various layers going every which way.

Friday was a great day. Susan and Margaret hiked just about every day. They headed out most mornings before most were awake. They were up to catch the sunrise photos and hike, hike, hike. Cathey Cole and Debby Thomas had a great achievement day. They hiked Lost Mine Trail, 2.4 up and back….4.8 miles, way to go ladies! Yours truly went on a 2 hour trail ride up on to the mesa above Lajitas. My horse Reno was careful negotiating the rocks on the, at times, very narrow paths. Yep, scary at times but the ride and view from the top of the mesa was incredible.

During the trip, we saw lots different birds and animals: road runners, cactus wrens and many other birds and coyotes and javelinas.

Thanks to Ed Landers for a great trip. Everyone enjoyed the time spent in the area and the beauty of it all. All returned safely to Memphis.

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