Floating the Rio Grande

Yesterday was a day off from hiking. We hired a river guide in Terlingua who drove us and four other people into Big Bend Ranch State Park, to catch about nine miles of the gently rolling Rio Grande and a float through Dark Canyon (so named because of the dark rhyolite and basalt rock that makes up its 1,000 vertical walls). The guide had us laughing uproariously at his tall tales and corny jokes, and he was vintage Terlingua – a laid-back 40-something outdoorsman with a very liberal attitude toward life, politics and rules. We’ve spent quite a bit of time in and around the Rio Grande, and wish we could see her when the water is running at whitewater levels. As it is, Colorado and Mexico upstream take so much water out of her tributaries that the only way she is full of water, rapids and vigor is after a deluge rainstorm, when she swells her banks and floods everything in the vicinity to a height of five feet.

We also rock-hunted yesterday for rhyolite, tuff, and anything else interesting that we could find in road cuts and non-park public land. Collected some nice specimens, along with a section of quartz veining in limestone that our granddaughter is just going to love. It is hard, but we abide strictly by the rules in the parks: no taking of artifacts on park land, including stones of any kind.

Here’s a glimpse of Terlingua, a nutty little artists’ and musicians’ colony on the edge of Big Bend.

One last look at the beautiful Rio Grande by sunset:

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Tomorrow we leave for camping and hiking next door in the Big Bend Ranch State Park. A big surprise awaits!

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