Rafting the Rio Grande

Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
Trip End Nov 01, 2010

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We'd booked in a white water rafting trip down the Rio Grande, just north of Santa Fe. It was time to start doing some exercise on this trip previously dominated by fried food and beer.

The river was set deep in a narrow canyon with 600ft cliffs on either side, the rapids were around grades 3-5 and we had perfect weather.

Half way through the trip we go under a bridge and, a few hundred meters later, some power lines. The guide started telling this story about an air force jet fighter pilot who had flown his plane, at full speed, under the bridge successfully but didn't account for the sag in the power cable ahead. The plane collected the cables and crashed.

The guide pointed to the side of the canyon about another mile down river from the power cables and said that there plane crashed into the cliff and you could see the impact zone clearly where there's a large dent in the rock. 

This whole story almost seemed unreal, until the guide pulled the boat over at the edge of the river and we got out and saw hundreds of pieces of shredded bent scrap metal panels. This was what was left from the plane.

The Air Force never bothered doing a proper clean up job so they just buried most of the disintegrated aircraft under a pile of rocks. This all happened back in the '70's so people have been pulling out debris from under the rocks since then.

In the second half of the trip we hit far more rapids, the guides quote as we went into a series of big ones was, "grit your teeth, gird your loins and tighten your sphincters, this is going to be big". 

I'd been sitting up the front and was totally drenched and cold. There was no sun since the canyon was so deep and narrow. I was getting cold as hell so I asked for one of the rain jackets from the guide - Landy repeated the other phrase that had been used repeatedly on the trip, "get that man a glass of harden the f**k up".
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