I prepare the kayak and am ready to launch. The boys crank up their conjunto music for my departure. Well, I guess that is better than hearing banjos at the beginning of your river journey.
WARNING: This clip is rated R for language at the very end.
Ocean Kayak and push off into the current. The sun is barely starting to rise and the air is fresh. I look behind me and see the mountains shrouded in a red haze from the distant Wallow fire (Arizona). There is something special about stealthily slipping along the river bank where many have paddled before. If not for this river, settlements, missions, towns, and cities would not have sprung up in this harsh country. It is our life blood.
Bureau of Reclamation releases water from the Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs upstream. Water has always been a hot button issue in the arid west. The result has been the construction of thousands of dams for irrigation, flood control, and hydroelectric power.
16 dams and the US alone has around 85,000. Many have created hazards to fish, displaced humans, and flooded scenic valleys and canyons. Did you know that the Yosemite Valley was once considered to become a large reservoir by damming the Merced River? According to John Muir, the Hetch Hetchy Valley, that is now a reservoir, was on par with Yosemite.
"Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man." -- John Muir
Red winged blackbirds are abundant and swallows are performing acrobatic flying maneuvers as they get their morning meal. Birds and other wildlife rely on this precious resource that cuts through the Chihuahuan Desert. In the past, I have seen coyotes prowling the banks and the work of beavers on the trees.
snowy egret. I try to get a decent picture to no avail. He keeps flying off when I get close enough for a shot. Try keeping a kayak pointed downstream while operating a camera without losing it in the drink.
black-necked stilt is characterized by his long skinny legs (with knees in the back), black head and white eye. I enjoy watching his every comical move as he stalks his prey along the edge of a sandbar. I could sit here all day, but need to keep going.
great blue heron takes flight before I can get close. I also see two cormorants (double-crested or neotropic) sitting on some brush, wings outstretched. Cormorants are excellent divers and swim low in the water so you can only see their neck and head much like the periscope on a submarine.
western meadowlark has a yellow belly with a black V near the neck much like a bib. A beautiful little songbird, but unfortunately, I’m not able to get a clear picture. On I go up river; starting to sweat now.
Cliff swallows feeding their babies are the stars of this show. The craftsmanship that goes into their adobe nests is to be admired and they never stop for more than a few seconds before they carry on hunting for their young.
See you on the trail.