Browse Tag: Costilla

From Elation to Sorrow

We travelled and camped in far-Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado last week and it was just spectacular. I have finally caught (and released) my first wild Cutthroat Trout in upper Costilla Creek; and I did it with a hand-line. No need for a fancy fly-rig, which I would likely not handle well on such a narrow stream.

It got really cold where we camped last Thursday above 9,000 feet. It even snowed that afternoon as we were making camp.

Surprisingly I was able to carry & chop wood at that elevation, as well as take a couple good long walks.

Unfortunately we got back to Bernalillo and just a couple days later my partner-in-crime “Mister Dog” died in my lap from a stroke as we rushed him to the dog hospital. We think he had a few small strokes, that presented as perhaps a problem with his spine; but the second time we took him to his local doctor she said, “There’s something worse going on here and you need to get him to the ER right away.” It was too late, though. The ER told me he’d been dead ten minutes when I brought him in.

As if that wasn’t enough, my daughter-in-law contacted us to say my oldest son had been a week in ICU struggling with a rare blood disorder – a result of his double-knee surgery nearly 2 years ago – that’s causing blood clots to erupt all over his body and in vital organs. He now has two large clots in his lungs and one in his brain.
This is not a survivable disorder. Doctors have fought it for almost a year and determined last week there are no more options; aside from keeping him comfortable. He’s already developed such a high tolerance to the opioid drugs they are using heavy doses of Fentanyl, an evil drug that’s over 100 times more potent than straight hospital-grade Morphine and nearly 200 times the strength of street-grade Heroin. The pain in his head is evidently intense but the disorder also causes shingles, extreme discomfort, and sloughing of skin.

He’s so embarrassed for how he looks he didn’t want me to go see him. But I am the father and he is the son. Had to remind him of that and remind him I’ve seen much much worse.

I saw my Cardiologist this morning, who gave me strict warnings about the stress in my family’s situation. Arrgh. People complain about my smokin’ so I stop smokin’. They bitch about me drinkin’ so I stop drinkin’. They tell me to exercise and clean up my diet, so I’m back to running a mile on the treadmill and eating no salt and no foods high in LDL cholesterol. It never ends.

At least I’m 116-days sober and well-entrenched with my homegroup, sponsor and therapist. I’ve got excellent support.

Tomorrow I will drive to Lubbock and see my boy. Not sure how long I will be there or how I will pay for a long-time stay; but he and his little family need me there.

There’s a bit of irony, here, because this blood disorder has some cancer-like behavior & characteristics. Both of my sons and their mother lived a long time in the community of Sanderson, which had made a bad settlement deal with Southern Pacific Railroad over the contamination of water wells with diesel, benzene, and other chemicals. My boy’s mother died from Leukemia last Summer and both my boys have had cancer (testicular and tumors in the bladder). A high percentage of longtime residents of the community have died from different types of cancer.

When it rains it fucking pours. Damnit. I’m gonna need to go sit still in the Southern desert for a month after all this trauma.

Northbound Again

Like the Dire Straits song but reverse the direction.

Leaving tomorrow or Friday for a week in the North country, mainly the headwaters of the Costilla River (right on the Colorado border) and the Blanca Peak wilderness area.  I’ve looked at Blanca Peak in awe, studied all the maps, and decided the best place to camp is accessible from the NE side (adding another 3 hours of driving).

My good friends, Debbie and Debi, will be joining us for the last few days of the adventure.  My best friend and sometimes nurse, Lysa, will be riding shotgun for the whole trip.

So how does a guy like me survive two nights in a freakin’ tent with three good-lookin’ women?  I’m thinkin’ the best way is to go to bed earlier than all my wild girlfriends, get settled, and make grunting noises when they bring all that girlpower into the space.  If that doesn’t work, then I go sleep in the car with the doors locked!

I’ve made two bamboo bobber rigs, and I’ve been practicing with my fly rod since April, so I’m gonna go terrorize those wild trout in the Northern Sangres!  All the fish I’ve seen up on the Costilla are really too small to eat; but the little monsters will be fun to catch & release!

Gotta stop in to see friends, too, in Taos and Arroyo Hondo; then the best AA meeting in New Mexico at Questa.  We’re going to hit the little club at San Luis, too.

Yayyy!  Finally going to the high country where it’s cool and we can experience a high-mountain thunderstorm!!!

Sadly I became such a worthless and arrogant prick, before I moved back South from Taos, most of my friends in the Taos area don’t even want to speak to me.

I no longer have the luxury of thinking I might never drink again; but two things give me much hope:  (a) I’ve never submerged myself to this degree in the honesty and humility of working our steps; and (b) I don’t have a lot of time left.  I don’t need to worry about staying sober for years.  Just today.  Just enough.

I want to die sober and surrounded by my loving, caring and TRUE family.  I can attain that.  Not so much to aspire to, based on the condition of my heart; but I’m 77 days sober and totally on fire with my own quirky step-driven spirituality.

Constant and persistent prayers for those of my past whom I have hurt or caused harm.  You are the most important people in my life, the ones to whom I owe the greatest debt of gratitude.

Que se vaya la paz contigo.

 

 

 

RCCLA rocks!

We have camped much of the Summer on land in far northern New Mexico that is managed by Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association (RCCLA).  From what I’ve seen over the Summer, this organization does the best job in New Mexico of managing and maintaining the vital habitat and wildlife of the Sierra Sangre De Cristo.

It’s pretty cool to see that a for-profit organization (private ranchers) are doing a better job than ANY of our national forests of preserving ancient grasses, protecting one of our country’s most delicate wild trout habitats, and operating a truly magnificent campground facility; all within the context of an obviously well-run ranching enterprise.

It’s increasingly difficult to find a pristine, clear, mountain river full of multiple species of wild trout – without going to Alaska or off the continent – let alone such a place with domestic cattle and elk being co-managed so well by a local cooperative enterprise.

Seriously.  If you want to camp, fish, hunt in the most beautiful wilderness in New Mexico or Colorado, and you want to see what old-world private ranchers can do when put in charge of precious natural resources, the you owe it to yourself to go stay a few days.  It’s easily the best outdoor experience you will have in New Mexico.

Unfortunately, I don’t do well above 8,500 ft. elevation – and much of this wilderness area is above 9,000 ft.   The highest and best scenario for me is to go up to that altitude with an understanding that I won’t be able to do much more than a 1/4-mile slow walk, and to come back down within 24-36 hours.

I love the serenity, though, and the extraordinary alpine meadows with their creeks and mountain seeps running through spruce, pine and aspen.  Stewart Edward White and Teddy Roosevelt both wrote of hunting expeditions into this region (private ranches then) just before the 20th century.

Important BTW::   I love Mia!  She’s the most awesome girl I’ve ever known.  I’ve never even MET anyone with values like hers.  She’s taught me more than I ever bargained to learn… and she’s really really cute!  I don’t really know if I can survive a winter where she lives but – I think – we’re to a point in our partnership where we are both wanting to move South in Winter and back to Taos in Summer (with ample commuting as necessary).

It’s a little strange, I think, that so many people think of the Sierra Sangre De Cristo as if it’s a New Mexico area/culture.  If you’ve not been to San Luis CO (the oldest settlement in the state of Colorado) and looked back into the Sangres from the Northwest, or you’ve not driven South from San Pablo CO to Amalia NM and realized THAT is the original land grant from Spain which defines this region’s cultural and natural heritage, then find a way to come visit!

Just remember to leave it better than you found it, and to be respectful of an ancient ranching culture that is the nation’s best example of entrepreneurship without greed – and without compromise of natural and human values.

God acted with Grace when He gave us each other and this planet.  So our only logical response can be gratitude; but gratitude is meaningless without the actions of love, tolerance, forgiveness, generosity, and service.

 

 

Most Scenic Place in New Mexico?

I beg to differ with the travel guides who call the Lower Hondo Valley the most scenic place in New Mexico.  It’s indubitably a beautiful little valley where I live, but our state has some mighty scenic places – like the Rio Costilla Canyon Southeast of the town of Costilla.

We spent the weekend exploring the high country of the Northwest Sangre de Cristo range – mainly places in the Questa Ranger District – and had a wonderful time camping in the high meadows surrounding the Rio Costilla.  The drive up through the Rio Costilla Canyon is simply spectacular – and doesn’t seem to have been “discovered” by too many foreigners.  The river – with its wild cut-throat and brook trout – is a “best kept secret” of local fishing fanatics and it’s easily the most beautiful little river in the state!

We also visited Cabresto Lake and found it overrun with jeep’sters and foreigners gone fishing in the stocked reservoir.  We also found it’s no longer maintained for camping, dirty and trashy, and too high for me to get along safely.  The altimeter said we topped out at 9600 feet before dropping only a couple hundred feet to the lake itself, and it was obvious if I stayed for long I’d not be able to do much of anything.

So we headed on North, thinking we might go to the Latir Lakes (which turned out to be closed) and discovered the Rio Costilla Cooperative Campground on the road up the canyon.  It’s an excellent place to camp, and one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.  One helluva beautiful little river!

We camped just below 9000 feet and I was able to get along pretty well.  I can tell, above about 8500 feet, that my heart barely keeps up and my muscles fatigue and cramp easily – a sign of the oxygen deprivation – but I’m probably safe to stay 2-3 days.  Above that altitude I start to lose so much function it’s not worth trying to stay long, and it’s likely dangerous for me.

We’re off to camp and fish on the Rio Chama next week, then I’ll bet we go back to Rio Costilla to fish and stay longer!