Tuesday January 2, 2024

High Country News

Typically foggy and cold “June gloom”morning gave way to a blindingly bright sunny afternoon at the Tijuana Estuary as Mike McCoy and I walked down a path bordered by bright yellow goldenbush. The air smelled of sweet nectar, common sagebrush and coastal sage scrub, mixed with prickly pear cactus and black mustard, an invasive weed that can top 6 feet, as tall as McCoy, or taller.

At my feet, a metal plaque on a rock read “McCoy Trail”; our path, I realized, was named after my companion, a local veterinarian in his early 80s with an easy, toothy smile and a penchant for hippie T-shirts sporting pictures of wolves.

McCoy and I followed the path until it opened onto a wide vista. To our right, about a quarter-mile away, stood houses and sleek palm trees — the edge of the city of Imperial Beach, California — and to the left lay an airstrip, part of a U.S. Navy facility. But straight ahead, through brush and marsh grasses, we could glimpse the shallow Tijuana River, meandering about a mile through its delta and widening as it reached the Pacific.

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