Photos and comments by Chuck Leinweber - Harper, Texas - USA

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Day 4

As we got ready to leave the next morning, I noticed cracks in the bottom of my boat. No leaks as yet, but I can see that I should have glassed the inside of the boat - Skip says Kevlar is even better for the inside.
Linda has a blister problem so John the ex-Marine (I know, there is no such thing as an ex-Marine) fixes her up with some Moleskin, antiseptic cream and a little Gorilla Tape to hold it all in place.
We take off and soon we are approaching Mariscal Canyon. Here we stop to wait for Louis who has been through the canyon numerous times and knows what to avoid.
It is so hard to take pictures of the canyon from the water - due to both the wide views and the contrasting light.
Soon we came to the "Tight Squeeze". This is a place where most of the river goes right between two large boulders that are quite close together. To make it worse, there is a hard left turn right before the opening with a whirlpool.

Below is a video of Donna, one of our most experienced paddlers demonstrating how to navigate the "Tight Squeeze". At the end you will hear Louis exclaim: "A successful run".

Many of us, myself included, lined our boats through the tight squeeze, but Skip had to give paddling it a try. Here he emerges to join the rest of the group below the Tight Squeeze.
Somewhere in the canyon I hit a rock that caused my boat to leak, so when we got to camp, a wide spot in the canyon, I beached the boat. Then I pulled all the gear out and turned it over to reveal a 3 inch tear in the fiberglass over one of the many cracks in the plywood.
I suppose I could have finished the trip bailing an inch of water every 30 minutes or so, but I had epoxy and fiberglass and some time to apply it so why not make field repairs? 
While the boat dried out, Donna, Steve and I decided to hike up a trail that led out of the canyon. We hiked for half an hour or so before Donna and I got hot and tired. We turned back and Steve went on. He had hiked to the river on this trail from above once and wanted to go back up it a ways. We got some nice pictures...
... including this shot of camp. If you click and enlarge this picture, you will barely be able to see the boats and tents next to the river.
Once back at camp, I spent 15 minutes patching my boat. It never leaked after that.
Dinner time finds Louis starting charcoal for his dutch ovens - Dutch Ovens! Where does he keep all this stuff?
For some reason, Linda was ready for her bandage to come off for a while.
We had not seen even a hint of rain and Steve had spent every night under the stars so I decided to try sleeping out. Good thing I am not a princess - look at the size of those rocks!  But with my air matress I slept like a baby.

Day 5

We hate to leave our canyon camp but we get up and take off. Shortly we stop to see some pictographs. It turns out they were burried by the floods, but we do find these interesting tracks in the sand.
Shortly the canyon closes in again and Terry shoots some video.
All good things must end including out trip through Mariscal Canyon. But we still have a long way to go so we keep paddling.
We did stop briefly just outside the canyon for a brief rest. This shot looks back into the Canyon.
Now that I had successfully made a repair to my boat - and had lots of epoxy left - I got braver about paddling the rapids. By slowing down and easing over the rocks, I was able to keep from breaking my boat or getting as far behind as I had been when I was stepping out of the boat and walking it along.
Approaching the smaller San Vicente Canyon, you pass this bluff with sloping layers that give the distinct feeling that you are paddling downhill. Enlarge the picture if you are not afraid of vertigo.
Though not as dramatic as Mariscal Canyon, San Vicente Canyon is still beautiful. We miss the shade of the deeper canyon, however.
Once out of San Vicente Canyon, we see the beautiful Sierra del Carmen mountains to the east in Old Mexico. The river along here looks pretty tame but you never know when you will have an opportunity to break a paddle...
... and that is exactly what Skip did to his wooden "lighter than it looks" paddle. That paddle had seen him though thousands of miles of river paddling only to fall victim to the relatively sedate Rio Grande. Don't worry, though, he will have it repaired long before his next paddling adventure.
As the sun set on our last full day on the Rio Grande, the Sierra del Carmen Mountains lit up like a neon sign giving little warning of what was waiting for us the next day.

Day 6

At around 5:00 AM, the cold front hit. We had only 9 miles to go and since Skip and I were planning to drive home that day, we left earlier than the rest of the group for once. Our plans were severely tested, though, when it took us until afternoon to reach Rio Grande Village.
The weather that had been so gentle suddenly, as if to make up for lost time, showed a totally different side. We were to paddle almost due North on this section and that is where the wind came from. I am talking about high wind - with sand. We guessed there were gusts over 40 or 50 mph. Often we were stopped in our tracks as we struggled with the paddles.
It was cold too - not freezing, but getting there and the wind chill made it bitter. We often stopped behind some bushes or in a gully to get some respite. Here Skip walks ahead to scout the river for the best route. Leaving first we did not have the benefit of the more experienced guides.
I guess we had been stopping quite a bit and feeling sorry for ourselves as well as wondering what would happen to the rest of the group - after all, there were three women...  Suddenly, Terry and Kathleen showed up and shared our little sheltered spot for a bit. Well, that did it - no girl was going to show us up! We pushed on with new determination and did not see any more of our group that day.
We covered several of the nine miles of our final day's trek on foot. Believe it or not, it was often faster to walk through the mud and brush than to paddle. Don't ask me why I took time to take this picture - I have no excuses.
I am sure this kind of cultural exchange is forbidden, but when this Mexican fellow with his horse beckoned, we were happy to stop for a chat and a rest. We had seen a few other Mexican citizens but this was the first one we spoke to. The next one, about two minutes later, just asked for money.
I forget the name of this last little canyon, but it did provide a respite from the North wind as it was oriented East and West. A little later, we were at the takeout and loading the boats. We had planned to take a picture there but forgot in our rush to drive back to the interstate and find a hamburger joint.


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