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In the Wake of the Spill

The Goosenecks of the San Juan River last Wednesday as the contamination from The Gold King Mine EPA spill was predicted to hit Lake Powell. Because of the release of “unallocated, extra” water from Navajo Dam and rainwater from local monsoon storms, the San Juan seemed normal, visually. I’m looking forward to see test results of water quality as it is hitting upper Lake Powell. 

Separation Anxiety

 Every summer, there becomes a point when the Canyon is just too hot for lil ole me, and I run to the mountains to cool off.

I did a great job of doing just that this year, I’ve pretty much just returned from 2 back to back river trips in Idaho, and a 3 week expedition to Alaska which were groundshakingly powerful and very gravitational all on their own.

Upon my arrival back to the hot stinkin desert I hit the ground running, working in the office and lining out jobs for the fall, playing catchup, all the while feeling a bit sad, withdrawn.  Something has been missing, and at first I shrugged it off as a transition time like after a Grand Canyon river trip.  It hasn’t gone away, though. I feel like a little piece of my heart breaks every day, that I’m loosing a little bit of myself the longer I’m away. I miss the Canyon so much, it hurts. 

 Puddles 1 day after a rain, gone by 2nd day. I will return here to camp someday, and I’ll stare at that redwall all night. 

 These are the photos from my last visit to Grand Canyon in May. By the time I get up there again, 3 months will have passed since Ive thrown myself into that place, full force. I look forward to rowing my first baggage boat in Grand Canyon on August 24th! Until then, I dream. Work on other projects upstream. 

Mining Spill Threatens our Watershed

THIS IS OUR LIFEBLOOD

Colorado is in a state of emergency as 3 million gallons of toxic mining waste spilled into the Animas River and continues to send about 500 gal/min more downstream to the San Juan River and Lake Powell. Tests have found levels of arsenic 300 times normal and lead 2500 times normal. The rivers have been closed to all recreational use, as well as all other uses while the EPA scrambles with a plan.

Tomorrow I am heading out to photograph the San Juan as the sludge is expected to hit Lake Powell. This is the sad part of my job. I think of all amazing experiences I’ve had in the San Juan and Animas Rivers, floating on a raft, paddling a kayak, swimming. Breathing in the warm air, smelling of willows, watching swallows skimming the surface for a drink, seeing beaver and fish swimming in the shallows. These are just a few of many elements that make it a living, flowing healthy river. The rivers are the veins that sustain us, and everything else. 
In my worst nightmares, I see the rivers poisoned by seemingly careless mining spills, there will be no riverside cottonwoods to take shade under, no bighorn sheep coming down the slope to slake their thirst. There will be no fish or beaver swimming around, no birds singing or flitting about catching flies above the river. I fear the death of these places I hold so dear, poisoned by our own mining industries. I fear for myself and future generations drinking poisoned water or eating contaminated produce. This is a monumental mistake that could affect all of us living in the southwest. 
This is the time to consider our Watershed, and try to protect it from it’s continued mining threats. Consider how far outlying our Watershed boundaries are, how everything is connected and flowing downstream, how dependent our fragile arid desert is on water. Please think about what other mining operations are going on, alot closer to home, right at the Grand Canyon. We can learn from this mistake and prevent more damage in the future.