Monday, September 12, 2011

Wading across the Rio Grande

This past Tuesday my friend Gary Anderson and I stood in a long-forgotten part of Texas and, after looking both ways, waded across the Rio Grande. We had a goal on the other side of the river: to explore an area named for the Weminuche band of the Ute tribe, and hopefully find Ute Creek.
The river where we crossed was surprisingly swift, but also more shallow than I'd expected. Crossing was not difficult, and we encountered no problems. Since this was not an "official" crossing, we didn't have to fill out forms or visit with customs officers on either side of the river. We crossed in broad daylight, within view of a road, and no one on either side of the Rio Grande seemed to care. In fact we saw several others cross the river during the day.
We hiked in for about 5 miles, carrying our gear, and while we found the creek, we couldn't find a safe way down. The trail we'd chosen took us along a steep bluff. About the time we brought out our sandwiches I noticed a rock shelter well above the trail and climbed up to investigate. I was hoping to find pictographs or petroglyphs, because from the trail there were what appeared to be strange markings on the underside of the overhanging rock.
After a long climb I arrived at the rock shelter, and while I didn't find any evidence of the Weminuche band, I did take time to photograph the shelter and take a GPS reading at the site, so I could record its latitude and longitude. (37.73334,-107.36434)  Then I scrambled back down to the trail and enjoyed lunch.
Gentle Reader, before you call the Border Patrol or Homeland Security, I need you to know no laws were broken. It's true we were in a long-forgotten part of Texas, and it's true we crossed the Rio Grande without official permission.
But we were in present-day Colorado, above the little town of Creede, near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Yes, it's the same river marking the boundary between the United States and Mexico. We were up there seeking trout in the valley where the Rio Grande is born.
Gary Anderson in the
Rio Grande
There was a time when this section of the Rio Grande was claimed by the Republic of Texas. In fact, even after the voters approved annexation in 1845, the boundaries claimed by the state of Texas included this mountainous part of southern Colorado; Texas only relinquished her claim when, for 10 million dollars, the U. S. government assumed the old republic's debts.
At its source the Rio Grande is clear and cold, running swiftly over round rocks. It begins in a steep valley, surrounded by tall peaks. The day we were there the clouds boiled and a cold rain fell on us. Even with the rain both Gary Anderson and I saw huge trout silently parked in the rushing stream. The ones we saw looked to be over two feet long.
Contrast that river with the one that separates us from Mexico. Here the river is murky and slow, polluted, uninviting, and filled with fish I'd rather not eat. By the time the river reaches the Gulf it's been whacked with the ugly stick.
Despite its history as a boundary, and despite the politics that surround the Rio Grande, I have seen it at its source, and I can tell you it starts out clean and pure in a place of rugged beauty.
Until next week, all the best.
 Joe Herring is a Kerrville native who caught the largest trout he's ever caught in the Rio Grande above Creede.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 10, 2011.  Click here to learn more about Fly Fishing Southern Colorado

1 comment:

  1. Please, please, post more - many more - stories of the intrepid adventurer, Gary Anderson! His exploits are legendary and filled with great lessons in moral courage and intestinal fortitude, and today's youth would do well to learn from them. He is also a man of exemplary character and deep knowledge of our country's history - and firearms. He can expound on the virtues of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and the 16-gauge shotgun with such a breathtaking depth of detail, that even the late, great Col. Jeff Cooper would be impressed. Please, more stories of Gary Anderson!
    - Ben Bolin, Kansas City, Missouri


Please remember this is a rated "family" blog. Anything worse than a "PG" rated comment will not be posted. Grandmas and their grandkids read this, so please, be considerate.



Related Posts with Thumbnails