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Boomerang Trips

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Offline internetauthor

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Boomerang Trips
« on: January 16, 2018, 03:04:30 PM »
I am taking my two boys (10 and 12) with me to Big Bend in the spring. I have a two-man inflatable kayak that I'll be bringing along as well. My boys are pretty narrow and lightweight (70 and 88 pounds respectively), so I am confident that the three of our can fit into the inflatable kayak comfortably. (Plus, I've done it before.) I have a second kayak, but without having done this trip, I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with them trying to go it alone, potentially out of my reach if there is trouble.

What I am curious to discover are the best options for boomerang trips in the park. I am already planning on a boomerang trip up the Santa Elena and a float back when I get tired of paddling or get tired of boys squabbling (whichever comes first.) They will be paddling also, but one of us will be doing the brunt of the work! I'll probably shoot to get the hiking trailhead early and carry the kayak in. Longer carry, but shorter paddle with fewer areas to circumvent in the river. With my crew, these need to be sampling trips - not the longer trips that involve shuttles, camping or days on the water. That will have to come later.

I have read a bit about the possibility of a trip up from the Rio Grande Village campsite, possibly to the Hot Springs area. I would love to do a bit of dabbling in Boquillas, but I only want to boomerang, so I can turn around and head back if there is any sign of trouble or danger.

Do y'all know of any other interesting boomerang trips in the park or the surrounding area?

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Re: Boomerang Trips
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2018, 03:30:04 PM »
I am taking my two boys (10 and 12) with me to Big Bend in the spring. I have a two-man inflatable kayak that I'll be bringing along as well. My boys are pretty narrow and lightweight (70 and 88 pounds respectively), so I am confident that the three of our can fit into the inflatable kayak comfortably. (Plus, I've done it before.) I have a second kayak, but without having done this trip, I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with them trying to go it alone, potentially out of my reach if there is trouble.

What I am curious to discover are the best options for boomerang trips in the park. I am already planning on a boomerang trip up the Santa Elena and a float back when I get tired of paddling or get tired of boys squabbling (whichever comes first.) They will be paddling also, but one of us will be doing the brunt of the work! I'll probably shoot to get the hiking trailhead early and carry the kayak in. Longer carry, but shorter paddle with fewer areas to circumvent in the river. With my crew, these need to be sampling trips - not the longer trips that involve shuttles, camping or days on the water. That will have to come later.

I have read a bit about the possibility of a trip up from the Rio Grande Village campsite, possibly to the Hot Springs area. I would love to do a bit of dabbling in Boquillas, but I only want to boomerang, so I can turn around and head back if there is any sign of trouble or danger.

Do y'all know of any other interesting boomerang trips in the park or the surrounding area?

While not my area of expertise, I might be able to help some. Assuming you don't want to put yourself in a position of going downstream and then paddling back, I think you only have a few options.

1) put-in at Lajitas and paddle upstream. I haven't done this, but when I put in at Lajitas to go downstream, that's exactly what a college recreation club was doing. You could probably talk to state rangers at Big Bend Ranch State Park about this. It's their jurisdiction. They may have some very good ideas I don't know about.

2) put-in near the mouth of Santa Elena canyon and paddle upstream as far as your (and the kids') stamina will take you. I've done this stretch of the river. I highly recommend it. One of a kind views and solitude.

3) Rio Grande Village base: a) not worth putting in there and going down the less interesting parts of the canyon to Boquillas Village unless you're willing to fight your way back upstream, b) not worth paddling upstream from RGV unless you want a short, beautiful trip through a modest canyon (Hot Springs), or c) drive up the River Road to the Gravel Pit roadside camp and put-in there, then raft through the moderate Hot Springs Rapid and then Hot Springs Canyon to RGV, then walk back to your vehicle. A long day, but a great one.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline internetauthor

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Re: Boomerang Trips
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2018, 03:49:49 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions! I know we want to do Santa Elena, and definitely, want to avoid floating downstream and having to fight our way back up hours later. I might do a short trip up from the Rio Grande Village put-in first to get our feet wet, proverbially, before we do a bigger, hours-long trip at Santa Elena a bit later in the week. I like the idea of trying something over by the state park. There is a slot canyon over there I wanted to check out last year, but time wasn't permitting. Thanks for the help!

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Offline betsyatx

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Re: Boomerang Trips
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 12:01:26 PM »
Just to add some data in case anyone is considering a boomerang trip at exceptionally low water...

My husband and I did a boomerang trip into Santa Elena over the Fourth of July (weekend before). Water was 198cfs at Castalon gauge when we started and it was about 180cfs when we paddled out the next day.  On the trip upstream, we walked our canoe very short distances several times, sometimes in such shallow water that the tops of our shoes were out of the water! A couple of times the river had channelized and the flow was too much to paddle against, especially with not being able to get a full paddle's pull in the shallow water. Never encountered a mucky bottom, so walking was easy. For a good bit of the way, the wind blowing into the canyon helped propel us upstream (a sail would've been nice :) ).

We spent the night on a lovely huge spot on the Texas side about 3 1/4 miles up the canyon (up river from Fern and Arch Canyons). Got a light sprinkle of rain that night, which helped cool off the temps, but didn't raise the river level.

The next day was really enjoyable, running all of the little riffles that were a challenge going up river. We got going fairly early in the day to avoid meeting those winds that had been so helpful going upstream the previous afternoon, and we had no trouble. Spent about 24 hours in the canyon (left about 1:30pm and were out about the same time the next day.)

We put in at the SE Canyon Trailhead and decided to take out at the official SE River Access point. (I grabbed the car at the trailhead and met my husband downstream at the access point.) We are old and weak, so lugging our HEAVY canoe and gallons of water and cooler down the Trailhead in the middle of the day in summer wasn't fun. The river access was, of course, a considerably shorter loading and unloading spot, but at the low water level, it was pretty mucky. Fortunately, we were able to drag the canoe up the ramp without getting mired in the muck. Would do the same thing next time (rather than launch and take out at the River Access) due to the aforementioned mud and paddling that extra mile upstream out of the canyon with about three narrow fast sections to paddle against.

Looking forward to another SE trip with more water, but I'd do this trip again, too.


 


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