Another World Down Here

landscape at the bottom of the Rio Grande Gorge

The terrible high desert strikes again

This is somewhere near the bottom of the Rio Grande Gorge, maybe twenty yards above and fifty in a straight line from the river. The top of the cliff is 800 feet above.

The scene is more unusual than you might think. The humongous boulders, for example, but especially the really sturdy sagebrush and a few deciduous trees. It’s obviously wetter than on the mesa. What precipitation that does fall gets funneled into the gorge by the cliffs on either side, and of course there is the river. When we were there today, it was running high and strong. There must be a lot of melting snow in the San Juan Mountains. I wonder how long that will last?

Walking back from this, we saw the wildest thing. Small flocks of ducks were wheeling back and forth across the gorge. They’d glide down to the river like they were going to land and then swoop up again or change direction. Canada geese flew overhead and honked. All at once another flock of ducks went by, close this time. Whatever were they doing, I thought, and then we saw the eagle giving chase! An immature bald eagle or a golden, mostly blackish-brown, with a dark head and a big ol’ eagle beak, oh yeah. It broke off pursuit at that point and flew right past us.

If I hadn’t already known it was an eagle, I’d have nailed it by the steady pump-pump-pump of its powerful wings. An eagle doesn’t mess around. You see that and you just know.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • M.J. April 2, 2014, 9:45 PM

    I am still disturbed about what is under those rocks in your other post. Did that look like a face and fingers to you? An alien? Creepy! Take a weapon with you on your walks from now on. Still creeps me out.

    • JHF April 2, 2014, 10:20 PM

      It looked like ribs to me. After enlarging the shot, it looks like sunlight on the edges of some flat rocks back in the hole. 🙂 I’ll see, though. I don’t usually walk on that trail. It was new to me, and the trailhead is farther away, so it may be a while before I get back there.

      Sometimes I do carry a knife, an easy-opening large pocket knife with a good sized-blade. That’s more for general purposes than defense—and against what, anyway? But even better is my hiking stick, a discarded ski pole I picked up, a great carbon fiber (I think) pole with a titanium tip. That would be a fearsome weapon. Better for poking into holes, though.

  • Leanne Retana April 9, 2014, 6:19 PM

    My husband and I live on a small cliff above the Finley River in Ozark, MO. Our upper deck is covered–my favorite spot to sit during the day and watch the sunlight dance on the water. Last week I was out there on a grey morning, the sky was spitting rain and a bald eagle was hunting on the river. It was a truly amazing thing to see. Those massive wings were silent like a stealth bomber.

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