Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Deep Place in the Earth I

Rio Grande River hundreds of feet below the bridge. (Photo by Tom Baugh)
My wife Penny ( and I recently had the opportunity to visit the Rio Grande Gorge in the northwestern part of the US state of New Mexico.  Although not as deep and nowhere near as wide as the Grand Canyon, the Rio Grande Gorge is a very impressive rift, a very deep place in the Earth.  The Taos Mesa is an immense extent of sagebrush covered land, dotted here and there with the signs of humanity,  that stretches for miles. Even on a sunny day there is a brooding aspect to this place.  The frequent patchy clouds sail across the sky, pushed by the ever present winds, and darken the earth below in great shifting patches of a natural melancholy.

Dwarf yucca among the lava boulders. (Photo by Tom Baugh)
You can visit the Gorge in several different ways.  For example, you can drive across the Gorge on a bridge located a little north and west of the community of Taos.  The Gorge isn’t obvious until you are right upon it.  One moment you are driving on a hard asphalt surface with high desert seemingly on all sides and in the next moment you are suspended in space on a thin ribbon of concrete and steel with the Rio Grande winding far below and nothing but very empty space under you. It can be a breath-taking experience to come upon  the Gorge and its namesake river in this way.  This is an incredibly fractured lava land with great chucks of black rock descending from the rims of the Gorge deep into the river itself.  

Continued in the next post.