Section 10: Rio Grande Village to Langtry
It’s getting harder to hike in the canyons. The bushes felt thicker, everything has thorns and the thorns have thorns. The shrubs and trees are in full bloom creating a beautiful soft orchard-like scene on the river’s edge with sweet pungent smells and spring colors drawing you in. However, once you go behind the scenes it’s hellacious. The blackbrush acacia is in full bloom with pale-yellow fuzzy puffs, in between the flowers are THORNS. The mesquite is in full bloom with brilliant-yellow round flowers that dangle down arching sprigs with THORNS. Guayacan has purple flowers and stuby THORNS.
By now the walkers have scratches on every inch of skin that's been exposed over the past couple days. We did manage to tunnel through the vegetation all day thanks to the cattle who, while wider than us are certainly not taller. We had to bend down and run headfirst in a hunched over crawl with our hands out for protection. Often the boaters were our eyes, paddling ahead to describe what was coming and helping us decide if it was time to bail to the other side of the river. In exchange the walkers were the boater’s eyes, exploring a ravine for an upcoming water source or scouting the rapids from a high point for the best line.
We had a few notable stops here and there. At Asa Jones Pumphouse we filled up on water from the several natural springs gushing into the river. The Mexican side had a warm spring that cascaded out of a rock before flowing into the river. We waded up the fast flowing stream to the pool that had been built up with rocks, feeling like we were on an Amazonian trek with the overhanging jungle-like bushes. Tenny sat fully submerged in the clear warm water while filling her jug just upstream. The volume of water that came out was impressive. The springs in the Lower Canyons add such significant amounts of water to the river that the CFS could rise to 300-400 as we move downstream. Surrounding geologic features, like the Edwards-Trinity formation in the States and the Del Carmen formation in Mexico and the associated aquifers, have steep groundwater gradients that allow the water to move in large volume toward the river. Neat to see the effect.
Once in the vicinity of Asa Jones we started to see more signs of human presence, especially in Mexico. Scattered along the animal trails were several small campsites with tuna cans and packets and other kinds of debris. There was an old style sleeping bag (the silky-nylon kind with fluff inside) bunched up behind a boulder. Pots and pans hid in patches of grass. A handmade raft from sticks lashed together sat waiting for use.
Is a handmade raft functional on swift water?
At one point we got cliffed out on a ledge only to find a rope down at the exact point we hoped to rejoin the river. Lots of activity here.
Later in the day we passed the Bolis Fold, a super cool geological formation where the rock had folded at a 90 degree angle. The canyon walls were back, higher than ever, with countless towers, minarets, arches and windows. Every direction you turned in had something interesting to focus on and point out to the others. The boaters barely paddled, choosing to let the current spin them along as they searched the skies. In all our concentration on hiking, it’s easy to forget that the boaters get a special look at the river corridor.