Kayak Beach, photo © 2007 by mimbresman. All rights reserved.
Winter 1977/78 – Mimbres River, NM:
I wanted to explore the Cook’s Range with my Jeep CJ-5. I get to the lower Mimbres River which was flooding due to warm rain melting snow in the mountains. On the far bank of the river was a sign that read “If you’re fool enough to cross this…it’ll cost you $20.00 to get pulled out!” I got out of the idling Jeep and looked in my wallet: $8.00. (I was just 17-years old.) I looked at the river, looked at the sign, and decided to go for it. Locked the hubs, put the CJ in 4-wheel drive, low-range and start across. Meanwhile a guy across the river was starting up his tractor, ready to take advantage of the situation. No problem until I was 3/4th the way across the river…water was coming in through the bottom edge of the doors and bubbling up through drain holes, and the current was starting to push the Jeep down stream. I steer upstream, mash the accelerator and hit the opposite bank, front wheels clawing their way on to dry ground. I made it! The first vehicle to do so!
Summer 1978 – Gila River, NM:
Nearly drowned in a riffle due to panic. I calmed myself, stood up and found myself in knee deep water.
Spring Break 1982 – Boquillas Canyon, Big Bend National Park, Rio Grande, TX/MX:
A friend and I hiked Telephone Canyon to the river while two other Range Bum buddies rafted down it in a small yellow raft. There was only room for two people on the raft so we had to take turns. The hike was hot, but the river was refreshing. We were treated to the sound of canyon wrens and mysterious flute music. We hiked out, shuttled to get the guys at the La Linda Bridge, then it was our turn to paddle Boquillas Canyon.
Spring Break 1983 – Mariscal Canyon, Big Bend National Park, Rio Grande, TX/MX:
A follow-up to the previous year’s excursion. We had a bigger raft, which proved to be a dog on the water. We ended up slogging through low water, dragging the raft for miles through the meanders before reaching the canyon.
Spring Break 1984 – Death Valley National Monument, CA:
Without water here, you die. We Range Bums found ourselves hanging out at the Furnace Creek Resort swimming pool more than we wanted to. It was unbearably hot! Determined to escape the crowds, we headed to the back country and were not disappointed. We saw all sorts of interesting formations due to water erosion or because of the lack of water. The most interesting place was “The Race Track,” a dry lake bed where rocks move on their own. How exactly they move is still a mystery but it is an awesome place indeed!
June 1994 – Arkansas River, CO:
A weekend whitewater retreat with two friends (ybonesy was one of them). Fun time on the water, and ended with us watching the OJ Simpson slow-speed car chase at the bar/restaurant in Buena Vista.
June 2001 – Pouder Cache River, CO:
Nearly drowned in a Class IV rapid when the inflatable kayak I was in hit a raft that was pinned on a rock, and rolled. I was forced underwater by the hydraulic pressure and was held there for several seconds before I could reach the surface, where I then had to deal with bouncing down the Class IV rapid with my body. I was exhausted when I reached the shore.
July 2001 – Puget Sound, WA:
Had a bad experience paddling big open water. Tide rips, strong tidal currents, waves, a weird and strange companion who I found I didn’t like too much, plus my inexperience as a paddler, all added to a very bad trip on the water.
March 2002 – Playa Mansa to Isla Borracha and back, Venezuela’s Caribbean Coast:
My wife was out of town and so I paddled the double kayak, solo, from the beach near our apartment to Isla Borracha 7 miles off shore. I was ill prepared for such an excursion; no food, only small mint candies and some water. When I got to Isla Borracha, I found there was not much there. I eventually had to paddle back to the mainland without eating. My only source of calories was “Mintitas,” small mint candies. I found that I could paddle for about 5 minutes per Mintita.
Summer 2002 – Playa Mansa, Venezuela’s Caribbean Coast:
Nearly drowned less than 20 meters from shore when I was practicing in my single kayak. I accidentally rolled the kayak, and was pinned inside the boat by the spray skirt. I tried reaching for the release toggle several times and I kept missing it. Finally, calming myself, I remembered the drill; rub my hand along the combing of the kayak until I reached the toggle. I was then able to pull and release the skirting and make a wet exit from the kayak.
New Year’s 2005/2006 – Cumana to Lechería, Venezuela:
A coastal kayak expedition with Douglas and Matt, a gay couple from San Francisco. They came to Venezuela to paddle, but had several bad experiences with police harassment. When they reached Cumana, they called me and I met them there. It was a good 5-day paddle of about 60 miles total. Very fun and interesting times. Matt was a diva, and Douglas did what he could to keep Matt from going into his “fits” (as Douglas called them). Douglas taught me how to surf my kayak on the big, following waves.
About this writing practice, mimbresman says: I wanted to write on this topic but got bogged down each time I started. Finally I decided to make a chronology of memorable experiences I’ve had with water. I guess that’s what this is all about: experimentation and writing.
-from Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – WATER WINGS