Posts Tagged ‘mimbresman’

By mimbresman


Kayak Beach, photo © 2007 by mimbresman. All rights reserved.

Winter 1977/78Mimbres 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 1978Gila 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.


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By mimbresman

Little place: (physical, the bike, the trailer, the country)
Big place: (culture, family, etc.; my head)

Everything has its place: food, water, extra clothes. It is Christmas Day 1997, and I am packing my bike for a 5-day bicycle tour in the backcountry of Big Bend National Park. The weather is cold for Big Bend, near freezing. The sky is overcast.

The previous night I have a great Christmas Eve dinner with Mike, his partner Jim, Jim’s wife, and Mike’s full-time RVer parents. All of us were crammed into a 5th wheel travel trailer. It was tight quarters, but it was the best meal I enjoyed that whole year.

What am I doing in Big Bend? I am escaping. I am running away from the cold weather of the Navajo Indian Reservation, I am running away from my immediate family. I am running away from my father’s death. I am running away from my own failure. I decided I’ve had enough! Enough moping and depression! Enough weirdness! It is time to get on with my life and I have decided to start it by doing my favorite thing at my favorite place.

To get to Big Bend, takes commitment. It is remote and isolated, some 8 hours southeast of El Paso, TX. Big Bend is named for the northward bend the Rio Grande takes on its journey south and east to the Gulf of Mexico. Within the park are the Chisos Mountains, the southernmost mountain range in the U.S. It is big country in the heart of the Chihuahuan desert. It is a spectacular contrast: green mountains, brown desert. It is a place where I find peace.

Zoom ahead to Day 2:
So much for escaping the weather…On the second day of my trip, I am dealing with snow flurries. I have every bit of clothing on that I packed. The desert is beautiful with the blowing snow.

At camp 2, I unload my bike, do a quick hike to Ernst’s Tinaja, return to my camp to get my bike and ride 10 unloaded miles down the Jeep road to the hot springs. I push my bike along the trail until I get to the edge of the hot spring pool. I am alone. I strip naked in the blowing snow and hop into the steaming water. The Rio Grande rushes past the wall that contains the hot water. Mexico is just a stone’s throw away, and I have the whole place to myself!

I am healing.

About this practice, mimbresman says: It’s about coming to terms with two big life changes. First, my dad’s death. My dad and I were close. He was a pharmacist and owned the local drugstore in our small town of Silver City, NM. Family time was important. He worked 7a to 7p most days. The store had a soda fountain, so as a family we spent a lot of time at the drugstore. Then he expected us to be home and ready for dinner when he got home around 7:30. He wanted to sit with the family and listen to what happened in our lives that day. On his few days off, he liked to explore the area around Silver City. I guess that’s where I got my appreciation of nature and of the natural history of where I was living.

The other loss in my life was the closure of my business. In 1993, after eight years of teaching, I had started a mountain bike clothing company called Mimbres Man. There was no such thing as mountain bike clothing then. Mimbres Man was a pioneer company and received positive press as being original. But unfortunately, I was not a great businessman and Mimbres Man folded in 1997.

As it often does, my mountain bike pulled me through. I’ve enjoyed bicycling since I was seven years old. I tried motorcycling but found them too noisy and felt like I was cheating. Bicycles are quiet and have been a great way of exploring, traveling, and getting out in nature around the Gila and beyond. I’ve been to amazing places because of mountain bikes.

I eventually went back to teaching, and I’m glad I did. Teaching is my main creative outlet, plus teaching brought me to Venezuela and my wife Tania. She is funny, and I enjoy being with her. (I read her my practice, btw.) We are so different yet we are connected. We sometimes don’t even need to speak to each other because we are thinking the same thing. Two cultures, two languages, two skin colors, but one love. Corny but true.


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