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Article: Road Trip Continues

Patrick Smith

Road Trip Continues

I’m back from scouting and find 14” of snow here at the homestead. Still coming down in fact. A normal spring here in Colorado. 

The scouting was rewarding. I located elk, whitetail and mule deer…all within a three mile hike of each other. The location was low enough in altitude to be snow-free, even in March! Altogether, a pretty fair find. 

But let’s get back to the ROAD TRIP narrative. We left off at McKinney Spring Camp. The next morning found me hiking around the area after a surprisingly cold night. By mid-morning I was poking along in Sheeba down the remaining 26 miles of solitariness that defines Old Ore Road. Headed for the Rio Grande river. If the upper section of this road was uniquely lovely—in a mountainous desert way—this new section was spectacular, revealing vast basins of arid wasteland backstopped many miles away by muscular desert mountains shouldering into the sky to the west. Sheeba growled up steep ridges and down through deep corrugated arroyos. The old girl lives for such challenge—was seemingly born to it—and this was refreshingly different than anything she, we, had yet seen. Our normal fare is either alpine switchbacks or gulley-infested sagebrush. This was a treat for the eye as well as a new challenge. 

We arrived at the famed Rio Grande Del Norte in the afternoon. I immediately put on a hike along the northern bank of course, and dipped hands into the waters, which originate in my own Colorado, like so many rivers that flow west and east from our position atop the continent. (Perhaps readers will be interested to know that 85% of all landmass above ten thousand feet in North America—to include Mexico and Canada and Alaska—resides in Colorado.) The river was about twenty yards wide. A determined wader could cross it, with maybe a bit of swimming in the channel, which might have been over one’s head but more likely chest high…hard to tell from the bank. The current was slow, the water fairly clear. Definitely not muddy brown. The banks were brushy. Okay, so this is the Big Guy I thought. My designated Camp was here; on the morrow I would visit Boquillas Canyon and get some more dramatic views of Big Guy. 

But for now, I need to interrupt our story and start shoveling snow. I’m told Denver International Airport is closed. Yep, this is a humdinger of a blizzard. I frankly like dealing with ‘em. They are certainly not boring. 

Next: Boquillas Canyon and beyond….

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