Monday, August 10, 2015


 ABOVE: Aerial view of the pollution rolling down from the mountains...
BELOW:  Close-up of the pollution, as it settles along the shore, and river-bottom.

From the Durango Herald (August 10, 2015)
     The EPA on Sunday tripled its estimate of how much contaminated water gushed out of Gold King Mine and slipped into the Animas River...  up to 3 million gallons from an initial estimate of 1 million gallons...  One million gallons of water is equal to about two Olympic-size swimming pools, meaning about six Olympic-size swimming pools of wastewater came downstream."  (NOTE added by me: it is STILL coming down, just not that sickening yellowish color)  
     (Regarding cleanup)  "...heavy metals will settle on the riverbed...  We do expect over the coming months and years,  as there are surges in the river,  that sediment can get kicked up...  We'll really need to have long-term monitoring plans.  ...sampling in the river, wells and soil may be necessary for a long time to come...  Some of these metals, such as zinc, can inhibit plant growth.  Others, such as lead, are more of a human health concern.  A lot of these metals pose long-term health risks..." (for more details: )
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     So... a real part of my life in Durango has been shut down, apparently for the foreseeable future.  No more spring rapids-running.... No more evening solo paddle.  Oh, I'll miss those... 
Since I moved up here, I've been spending many summer and autumn sunsets (and an occasional bundled-up WINTER run) in my kayak, paddling upstream a ways, and then floating down among the reflecting reds and oranges (and some small ice floes in winter). 
     This year, there was this blue heron that I liked to see on its perch along the river.  It's been a personal meditative time.  But now -- will the fish be poison to the heron?  Oh, who knows...
     Our mountain lakes are quite beautiful and I'll go there sometimes but they're all a longer drive, so it won't be a daily evening ritual....
     Ah, but day before yesterday,  a friend and I were doing just that,  each of us paddling our own kayak while bathed in the sunset brilliance of a beloved mountain lake.  We were quietly circumambulating along its wild edges,  among the reeds and nooks.   As we came close to completing our circuit,  there came a hawk gliding overhead directly towards me, carrying a fish in its talons.               

      Setting my paddle down, I turned my head up to watch.  The hawk flapped its wings very powerfully --  just once -- thus stopping its glide for just a moment -- an electric moment -- and we met eyes (so it seemed to me).   Then the hawk flew on, directly over my head, and was gone.