Friday, April 20, 2007

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Wow, what a trip, yes it was a go, but the location was a no!! Bad weather here in north and central Texas caused a last minute location change, so Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas was the new location. It was about a 9 hour drive from snowy Amarillo, to the 90 degree park, yes I said snow in Amarillo, this is just such wild weather we are having. Ok, back to the details, Friday evening I packed up the Jeep, loaded the Kayak and headed over to Jim's house to load the Kayak on the trailer with his Canoe (should have seen the looks I got hauling my Kayak and gear in a snow So, Friday night we were all loaded up, Jim picked me up at my house Saturday morning @ 0 dark 30 (5:30 am) and headed south.
About 100 miles north of the park, we stopped in the small town of Marathon, Texas for lunch and found a little local eatery in a converted gas station called Cottonwood Station, food was good, but nothing to brag about, ahhh, but the ice cold Shiner Bock draft beer, was a welcome relief to a trio of parched and weary travelers.
I guess it's a Texas law that these signs be posted in restaurants, I just have never noticed them before, so it just struck me funny and made me wonder just a little about our choice of eateries as we sat down beside this sign....
After refreshments and a full tummy, it was off to our final destination for the night. We stayed at the Rio Grande Village campground by the Rio Grande river in the park. The campground is much nicer than you my expect for the middle of the Texas desert, but it was well shaded by large trees and grass most everywhere. Since there are no RV hook-ups in this part of the campground it was funny to see all different types of camper all located next to one another, we tent camped amongst $200,000 dollar motorhomes, the sites were large and level, with tables and grills at each. Steaks and corn on the cob were in order for dinner, so with full tummys again it was off to bed as our river adventure began in the morning
Sunday morning we arose to pack up from the evening and head down to our put-in place at the river. We will be traveling approximately 40 miles down river through Boquillas Canyon to our take out at La Linda (a small town on the Mexican side) where Jim's truck will be awaiting us, via a shuttle service.

We got on the water around 10:30 am, since this is my first experience in a kayak, it should be interesting getting the feel for it, especially the getting in and out part!! ( sorry to disappoint, but never flipped or fell out during the trip!!!) I know you were waiting to here about a dunk in the drink!!
Here we are actually entering the canyon, it's about a mile by river from the put-in at Rio Grande Village. The scenery is just stunning, the canyon walls rise strait out of the river for hundreds of feet, there are small beaches at every bend in the river and in some places flat ground before the cliff face. There are also several slot canyon to explore on foot along the way.
We camped our first night on the Mexico side of the river, explored a small slot canyon. As evening fell, we began to hear the most god awful animal noise you could imagine and it was loud, we finally figured it to be wild donkeys. The sounds were like the normal hee haw you would expect, just much louder and drawn out, sounded like a train going by in some cases. So we bedded down for the night, but was awakened several times by those screaming donkeys, awrrrr!!! they just wanted to make you scream yourself as they scared you awake. Oh well, just part of the experience and a wild memory.

The next day was more paddling and exploring, the wind came up which made it alittle more difficult but still very enjoyable.

Camp 2 for night was very interesting, as we camped with a group of wild horses on the Mexican side. There was a deep slot canyon we also explored, around each corner was a new sight or experience, it was like discovering something wonderful with every turn. Night fell and the blasted donkeys screams were back!!!! so much for a good nights sleep!!! the bats were also out, as we sat and talked into the evening they would swoop down close to us and then be off into the night again.

The last day on the river, we paddled for a few hours, then ran into some class II whitewater, that made for an interesting and exciting couple of runs. One run was more exciting than the others as Jim and Gary took the wrong line at the rapids and in a turn no less, well we can just say they got wet. Ok, more than wet, the canoe flipped and wedged on a couple of rocks in the middle of the river!! that was quite the feat trying to right the canoe with the force of the river flowing into it, but we managed and all was well in about a half hour. We all walked away, so no harm done, just alittle pride The canyons finally gave way to more gentle rolling hills and flatter land by the take out point. The take out point was across the river from the small Mexican town of La Linda, at one time a booming mining town

What a great trip, sure was nice to get away, I missed Sheryl and kept think how much she would have enjoyed it, but she couldn't get off work. Next time though, she'll be right there fighting the currents and having a ball.

That's it for this post, just a quick, ok kinda quick, run down of the adventure (oh yea, I never flipped once, not bad for a first time kayaker!!! :)

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