NM culture at the Ruins
Absolutely knew this would end up as some whinning MTN Buzz post. People are forgetting how to communicate face to face. I am not going to argue "what really happened"...someone else can do that if they want to.
However, in an effort to reduce future incidents and ruined weekends I instead offer this as a consideration for future paddlers travelling to NM as it does indeed have a distinct boating culture. It is a much much smaller paddling and more communal group of friends down there. Everyone knows one another and "mine" and "yours" means a lot less.
The "Ruins" has long long long been an informal and free paddler hang out. The local paddlers are there nearly every weekend from March to October. There is one formal fire pit on the top of the small mesa and it has been the "meeting place" for the community for decades. (The BLM turned it into a fee area just this past winter with much protest from the local paddling community.) There are many private camp sites just below the mesa top where people wanting more privacy usually camp, especially along the Rio Pueblo. In fact, those sites are much much nicer than the mesa top. There is also a multitude of other much nicer camping areas along the river nearby, the top of the gorge, the forest, etc.
The mesa top/"ruins" is THE traditional gathering area of locals. Whoever shows up first lights the fire and all partake. It is a VERY social place. If you don't want to be social and you prefer your space, it is not the best place to camp. If you want to meet local paddlers (and in this case a lot of other out of staters too), you go up there, squeeze in, have a beer and talk about boating. If you are the go to bed early type, camp as far from the fire pit as possible.
In this case, there was a distinctive clash of two worlds - one that staked out territory and one that did not believe that territory could/should be staked out. If you know much about NM, you would now this is an ongoing cultural issue there.
Personally, I will be sad when NM is as big, crowded and anonymous as everywhere else. I can see the future of calling in to reserve spaces and telling your paddling friends "we are in camp #10". There will be no locals area where everyone is welcome to squeeze in as long as they are willing to share a living room. And perhaps that is an entitlement. But for now, I will treasure there is one place I know I can show up at anytime, any weekend, and run into old friends.
With all that said, sorry your weekend was apparently ruined. If we paddlers cannot make peace amongst each other, does not give me much hope for the world.