Wow, what a month. I just returned from guiding 2 trips through the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande and then a long weekend of speaking and reconnecting with friends at Canoecopia in Madison. The Lower Canyons are special, hard to describe, they need to be experienced. Words like solitude, spirit, astonishing, fun, unknown, adventure, dusty, warm, exciting, relaxing, just hard to describe. I had two great groups a total of 8 for each trip. It was a tale of two trips. When we started with the first group the river was flowing at almost 300 cfs at Rio Grande Village, the second trip was 50 cfs. Springs boost the flow to make paddling always possible, but certainly the water was much pushier for the first group. Group 1 had eight days of cobalt blue skies and daytime highs that twice pushed into the nineties. Group 2 had a frost one night and cooler days. So, for group one it was a quest for shade at lunch, and group 2 always seeked out a sunny spot and on the one cloudy day, even built a noontime lunch to warm up. The paddlers ran the spectrum in both groups from beginner to expert and we always managed to find pairings that paddled efficiently together. The first group was blessed with the full moon and ghostly moonlit canyon vistas. The second group witnessed the Zodiacal Cloud and awe inspiring star shows. Both groups had some extraordinary hikes up slot canyons. The second group “discovered” an aboriginal cave replete with artifacts from thousands of years ago. No mountain lions this year but we did see javelinas on both trips, coatimundis raided our camp at Upper Madison Falls on the second trip and we saw many unusual birds including a glimpse of a Black Hawk by group 1. We saw two quail hunters and a couple catfish fishermen during the first day of the first group, other than that the canyons were empty of humans and the hum of civilization. It is hard to believe that a place with such extraordinary beauty — cliffs rising two thousand feet, keyholes, hot springs and desert flowers — still exists devoid of humans. I doubt there is another place quite like it in the world.
I am going back next February to lead three, eight day expeditions. They are expeditions because even though I have led four trips on the Rio Grande, either the river changes or my memory fades and it is always a journey of discovery. I am looking for individuals that are willing to jump in, pitch in, and who are prepared to be part of a crew for the adventure of a lifetime.