Section 10: Rio Grande Village to Langtry

 

Day 123

16 miles

 

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We’re past the Lower Canyons and on a section of the Rio that is only boated by one or two parties per year. Early into the day we checked the GPS for roads that might spare us the usual obstacle course of walking along the river. We were stoked to find several that we could link together for an 8-10 mile stretch. We couldn’t tell from the map which roads were private but hoped we might find some sympathetic landowners that would grant us passage if needed.

 

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To get to the road we had to make it through the daily gauntlet of brush. While struggling through a snarl of thorns, Tenny was startled by a frantic critter that leapt out beside her. She must have been more tightly wound than normal because she let out a shriek (and was appropriately mocked for it). It was a javelina, a good reason to yell!

 

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The dog cholla onslaught continued much to our discomfort. Watch your feet! Corey and Tenny nerded out over track and cross country, which they had both been VERY SERIOUS about in college. There aren’t many subjects that Claire and Tenny haven't extensively covered with each other but running is one. That's the beauty when friends join, they always bring a new subject with them. And then there’s Zak and Corey who bring 50.

 
  

  

   

   

Corey told us that he and Zak have been searching for companies who might be interested in listening to what the heck we’re doing out here. It’s been a struggle to accurately convey our mission to others and after trying themselves Zak and Corey understood some of our frustration. They’re some of the first people who have really tried to understand and it’s immensely gratifying and touching to hear how well they have listened. Thanks for sticking up for us guys and trying to get others interested. Now we just need to condense what took two days to explain into a simple phrase.

 

The road took us up and out of the canyon onto a vast mesa that stretched out in all directions. On top the river is barely noticeable, just a small incision in the rocky desert scrub. Down in the river and surrounded by the canyon you would have no idea that this world existed. Again we were struck by how seamlessly the US and Mexico blend together into one mass from this perspective.

 

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White houses dotted the landscape far off into the distance.

Who’s property were we on?

We didn’t see any “no trespassing” signs so we continued eastward. We came across a few abandoned houses and RVs with cars and propane tanks left to rust. A number of hunting blinds edged the road, some fully equipped with solar electricity. Like the Forgotten Reach, this must also be a popular spot for leasing land to hunters.

 

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Back down at the river it was our turn to wait for the boaters. The wind had picked up which was a delight on the flat, sun-baked mesa, but a nightmare for the boaters. The wind blows so hard the surface waves stagger upstream making it extremely difficult to continue forward. The river had become more snakelike, making it easier for the hikers to shave off miles while the boaters were forced to paddle twice the distance. A thick cloud cover gave the hikers some relief from the sun but left the boaters cold and clammy. Basically anything a hiker wishes for makes life miserable for the boaters.

 

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Zak volunteered to hike this evening. Our constant rotation of friends willing to hike is going to spoil us. We often fantasize about how cool it would be to hike the border as a parade of people. We threw Zak into the brush which at this point was an elaborate matrix of cow-made cane tunnels thanks to the return of livestock. Cows are all through here and it's hard to complain when their overuse makes our passage possible. Of course it’s easy to feel that way as 5’3" women, maybe tall, leggy Zak found the waist high tunnels to be not quite as enjoyable.

 

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