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  • Writer's picturekaydee777

The looking glass lizards of Rock Canyon

The sun had just slid over the horizon when I put in this morning, about half an hour later than usual, at Rock Canyon boat launch .

I had planned to launch at the Elephant Butte Lake State Park’s main boat launch but when I arrived there I was put off by the village of (enormous) motor homes drawn up along the beach, and gathering of trucks and empty trailers indicating motorboat fishermen had already launched. I decided to explore another boat ramp a little further north on the lake.

I have not launched from Rock Canyon before. Yesterday’s strong winds - the distant effects of hurricane Beryl pounding Texas - have cleared the air of wildfire smokiness. My kayak and I entered the water under a cloudless sky

The water was exquisite reflective glass. The early morning light sparkled with a crystal clarity.

I hugged the western shoreline and paddled deep into a drowned canyon.

Elephant Butte lake is the bigger of the two lakes I live between. They are man made irrigation reservoirs which dam and control the mighty Rio Grande.

Their water levels fluctuate depending on irrigation release, and rain or snowmelt in the watershed areas. When it snows in the Colorado mountains, we celebrate here in the desert because it means water in the lake down the line.

Paddling into the drowned canyon, the sun-gilded, water-sculpted rock formations on the shore took on fantastical shapes.

Lizards watching. Jaws opening.

Reflecting. As above, so below.

There are also remnants of drowned trees in this canyon, making snag hazards for propellers.

Though out of sight of the boat ramp, I could hear the drone of motorboat fisherman headed elsewhere on this huge lake, leaving me to enjoy the peaceful water and the crows calling.

On the way back I celebrated being alone on an expanse of open water by practicing paddle sprints, just because I could, and also to work on strengthening my arms and that still weak left wrist. I miss my days of paddling outrigger canoe in Hilo Bay.

Circling back to the boat ramp there was a view of the town of Elephant Butte and a different side of Turtleback Mountain (Caballo Cone) than the one I usually see from my front porch.

In summer I tend to spend more time at Lake Caballo than Elephant Butte Lake because of the kind of camping and fishing congestion I found this morning at the main boat ramp. I am glad, however, that I explored a new launch site. Rock Canyon today was peaceful, reflective and restorative in spite of it being height of lake tourist season.

When I got home, my backdoor Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporuse magister) gave me stink eye. Apparently I didn’t take her to commune with the lizard land spirits of Rock Canyon.


I didn’t even know she wanted to go.

In fact when I left home with kayak and paddle this morning, I didn’t even know I was going to find magical looking glass worlds at Rock Canyon.

Enchanted light. You have to get up early to catch it.


And there I was dragging my feet about setting out, thinking: “no clouds, it will be a boring sunrise”

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rchris822
Jul 09

Stunning photos

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kaydee777
kaydee777
Jul 09
Replying to

Thank you! BC. The light this morning was truly enchanted and the geography otherworldly. Thought about you.

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