With cooler Fall temps in the air, I decided to run from El Paso, TX to Old Mesilla, NM (Las Cruces) along the Rio Grande levee road, a distance of 36 flat miles. I left a little before dark and was going to take a picture of the trail lit only by my penlight when I discovered the camera battery was still in the charger plugged into the outlet at home. Since there was no reason to carry the camera all that way, I turned around and left it in the car. Was this going to be one of those days? A lot can happen on a seven hour run.
The weather was perfect, a little chilly, but I knew the sun would come up and warm things up eventually. I ran along fields and through pecan orchards, but the river was completely dry. It only flows for about 6-8 weeks in the summer months to provide irrigation for agriculture. Drought in recent years has necessitated fewer releases from dams up stream which puts a great strain on growers here in the largest pecan growing region in the country. They are forced to pump groundwater instead.
|Lucy enjoying the Rio Grande when it's flowing.|
Several days earlier, I drove out there, dropped off some water at my half way point and walked the river bottom with my dogs, Lucy, Sierra and Taz. I thoroughly enjoyed observing the many shapes of cracked dried mud which became a sort of natural art gallery; a complete contrast to Banksy’s art in New York this month. Check out his gallery here: Banksy, Better Out Than In
The time passed quickly as I ran along the gravel road and, once out of town, I saw very few people. Occasionally a couple of dogs would come out to bark at me, but never caused any problems. After three and a half hours I reached my water point where I had also stashed a can of ginger ale and bottle of gatorade. By this point I was experiencing some lower abdominal and groin pain that had flared up in the past few weeks so I took some time to stretch out.
|I have no idea what this means. Maybe Banksy was here.|
The pain subsided a bit, but still nagged all the way to my destination. I managed by rewarding myself with a short walking/stretching break after every 30-40 minutes of running. Clear views of the Organ Mountains in the distance and blooming morning glories in plowed fields along the way made the run more tolerable.
Peace and quiet soon ended though as I ran through the largest pecan orchards that lined the river. It seemed that people were target or skeet shooting, because I heard many shots fired from shotguns every few minutes or so. This continued for several hours. Suddenly one went off about 100 feet from me, “JESUS! What the...?” I looked over and saw the culprit—a propane sonic cannon to keep birds and squirrels from stealing the precious nuts.
With pecans going for $12.99 per pound, the cannons probably pay for themselves in one growing season. However they are a complete annoyance to ultramarathoners trying to get to lunch in Mesilla. Anyway, I finally made it to my journey’s end in seven and a half hours where I met my family for a very big meal at our favorite local Mexican restaurant. Chile rellenos and tea never tasted so good, not to mention endless bowls of tortilla chips.
|Sierra chasing Taz|
In other news, I volunteered with Texas State Parks to work on the Mundy’s Gap trail in the Franklin Mountains. Recent flash flooding nearly washed out the road in one spot so a crew of about 10 repaired the worst section by filling in ruts and pulling dirt and gravel over exposed rocks.
Taz has completely recovered from his snake bite and has been running with the pack again. He is much happier now, but spoiled from all the special attention he received over the last few months.
|Is this dog spoiled or what?|
Finally we are back to standard time and I can run in the mornings without my headlamp. Daylight savings time is a big waste; we aren’t saving anything. I mean who sleeps in until 7:00am? Shouldn’t we be running by 5:30-6:00?
See you on the trail.