Rio Grande Recap | January 2022 | Big Bend Texas
January 13 | Day 1
Our group landed at the Midland Airport midday, and after grabbing lunch in Midland, we hopped in our shuttles for the 4-hour drive to Terlingua, Texas.
We arrived at Far Flung Outdoor Center around 5pm and took some time to settle into our cabins, shower, call family and rest.
After ordering delicious takeout from the Starlight Theater , we enjoyed the sunset while getting to know one another during our Happy Grizzly orientation meeting.
We closed out our evening around 9pm for a good night’s rest after our day of travel.
January 14 | Day 2
We had breakfast parfaits, bagels and coffee ready at 7am. While we sipped our morning drinks, we watched the sun rise across the desert landscape.
Our guide meeting began at 8am where we received our dry bags, which we used to pack our gear. After getting packed up, we met with our river guides to learn more about the stretch of river we would be traveling for the next few days.
By 10am, we were ready to load up our shuttles for our 2-hour drive to the river put-in. Some took this drive time to snooze, while others enjoyed getting to know one another better. The drive took us through Big Bend National Park where we got to see the beautiful Casa Grande up close and learned much about the history of the land, native communities and the 70+ species of cacti.
We got to the river around 11:30am and enjoyed lunch prepared by our guides. After lunch, as our guides got our camp gear loaded, we gathered together to do some guided breathwork and meditation with Koorosh. It was a shared experience for many that the sound of the water flowing by us felt incredibly grounding, especially after a day of travel.
Feeling grounded and connected to our bodies, we put on our life jackets and hopped in our canoes.
The first day, we floated about 4 miles to our camp. For many, this was their first time in a canoe so there were lots of laughs among the boats as folks learned the ins and outs of steering and canoe teamwork.
We arrived at camp around 3pm, and everyone took some personal time to set up their tent, nap, journal, hike or wash up in the river. Our incredible guides immediately set up the kitchen and began preparing our meal for the evening.
Once our appetizers were served around 5:30pm, our group gathered around the campfire for casual conversation. Koorosh and Stacy began the conversation by checking in with the group and seeing if anyone had anything they’d like to share from their day’s experience.
We learned quickly that rowing in a canoe with a stranger provided a wide range of experiences for folks. Some found it challenging, some found it very easy and enjoyable, while others had a blend of both.
There were lots of laughs among the group as we discussed our day, and it became clear that this group of strangers was beginning to form shared experiences that build the foundation for friendships.
As we sat under the night sky with the bright moon, we enjoyed the warmth of the fire, our group conversation and singing along with our guide Terry as he played his guitar.
January 15 | Day 3
We woke up to the call of “Coffee’s ready!” from our incredible guides. The coffee was a welcomed treat after our previous night’s sleep. We had some sustained winds come through our camp around midnight, and many folks found themselves laying awake wondering if their tent was going to collapse.
We learned in the morning that in the night, during the strong gusts of wind, some folks got out of their tents to ensure their tent and other’s tents were properly staked down. A few folks even walked around camp in the wind, checking in on folks to ensure they were comfortable.
Despite the windy, somewhat restless night, we all gathered for coffee with smiles on our faces, telling stories from the wild windstorm. We laughed as we recalled things that happened as we tried to stake down our tents, or go to the restroom with the wind whipping in our faces.
After a delicious breakfast, we packed up our camp and gathered for some mindful morning movement. Koorosh guided us into a walking meditation practice, a seated meditation and some group conversation.
Several people shared their experiences of what they were learning about themselves, how they were experiencing their connection with new people, and overall reflections on how their intention was showing up for them already on the trip.
We paddled a few miles before stopping for our lunch break and a short hike to see some petroglyphs in the nearby canyon walls.
Before we ate lunch, Koorosh led the group through some longer breathwork practices, followed by a period of silent meditation that the group naturally fell into. After our windy night, the entire group embraced these silent moments as we listened to the water, wind and birds.
We hopped back in our canoes and floated a few more miles to camp. We were all looking forward to our evening as the weather was predicted to be clear with very little wind, and the moon was almost full.
Once at camp, we followed the same agenda as the night before. Some solo time allowed for folks to set up their tents, take naps, wash in the river or go on hikes.
Our dinner that evening was followed by some fun and deep group conversations. The friendships being formed among our group was very clear on this second evening. Joking, laughing, and curiosity flowed between us all as we sat around the campfire.
The simple questions of “How is this trip going so far for you? What have you learned? What have you been challenged by?” were enough to generate really meaningful conversation for the evening. We learned from one another as we shared our experiences thus far, our challenges, and our moments of self discovery.
We ended the night with our guide Terry serenading us to Johnny Cash and Tracy Chapman by the light of the campfire and the moon.
January 16 | Day 4
Our final morning on the river began with coffee and cold toes. After lighting a fire and eating delicious breakfast sandwiches, we were ready to begin the day.
We packed up camp and got on the river by 11am. We only have a few short miles of floating until our take out point, and our previous days’ skill-building in canoes began paying off as some canoes began racing one another.
At our take-out, we were served another tasty lunch and took the opportunity to get some final outdoor photos before hopping in our shuttles.
A 3-hour shuttle ride brought us back to the town of Terlingua. Once in our cabins, we showered, called our families, and met for another delicious dinner from the Starlight Theater.
We ate our dinner around a fire, lounging in Adirondack chairs while we shared our memories from the trip. We were invited to share what we had learned and how our trip intention had evolved over the past few days.
There were several themes in the experiences among the group, but the overarching theme was the power of vulnerability. The entire group shared that in various ways, through various sources, the power of vulnerability continued to present itself as a valuable lesson. We all had our own experiences to share of how deeply we can connect with other humans when we choose to be vulnerable. And that was a powerful conversation.
We closed out our time as a group that evening - saying goodbye to one another and sharing contact information so that we may stay in touch. Our shuttles would be departing the following morning at various times for various flight departures.
January 17 | Day 5
Our early morning shuttles drove us all back to Midland to catch our flights home.
It is with joy that we closed out our Happy Grizzly Big Bend Adventure having grown our community and made lasting friendships.
Photos by Keith Fearnow https://www.fearnowmedia.com/