Santa Elena Canyon

We used to pop dandelion heads off into the creek of our backyard and watch those suckers spin, speed and eddy their way down the craziest ride of their pollinated pompon lives.

But now the creek is 50’ across and it isn’t dividing yards anymore it’s dividing countries. And I am the pompon, stalling and spinning and occasionally flipping as I slip past rocks and fallen trees that, like me, have found their way into the Rio Grande River as it cuts through the remote desert of Western Texas.

It feels excellent to race things downstream, pretend boats or real boats. Kids love it. Adults love it. Adults even feel like kids because of it. Aside from paddling alongside your friends - and strangers that are quickly becoming your friends - you’re completely off the grid for the three days it takes to tackle this section of the river known as the Santa Elena Canyon. That means you haven’t a care in the world. There is no news. Your battles aren't with bad traffic or endless emails but with knee deep mud and extended exposure to the sun. 

People don't grow up. They pretend to. Obstacles get bigger. The consequences more serious. But we still invent games, we are still humbled by nature and we still feel most alive when we wade knee deep in it.