Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

+-Calendar for sale

2020 Big Bend Chat Calendar

 2020 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!


Santa Elena Boomerang Camping

  • 5 Replies
  • 419 Views
*

Offline TexasAggieHiker

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1234
  • The road goes on forever & the party never ends...
Santa Elena Boomerang Camping
« on: February 11, 2020, 10:24:49 PM »
I'm taking a few days the weekend of the 21st and heading west to re-set before work starts getting busy.  I was considering going to GUMO and backpacking to the Shumard Canyon site since I've never done that trail  But today the idea of going to the Bend and paddling up into Santa Elena popped up.  I'd like to run the whole canyon, but this will be a solo trip and don't want to run the rock slide alone.  I'm considering putting my kayak in at the mouth and paddling up as far as the rock slide.  Flow at Castolon is around 170 right now.  Temps were in the low 80's today.  How are the places to camp up to the rock slide?  Any advice on the flow and temps?
« Last Edit: February 12, 2020, 12:07:04 AM by TexasAggieHiker »

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3375
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Santa Elena Boomerang Camping
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2020, 10:17:26 AM »
That should be a good trip.  Back during my 2017 cross-park float, I noticed a lot of people paddling upstream in Santa Elena, and that was at 600-800cfs.  They were struggling, but a few made it all the way to the Rockslide.  At 170cfs you should be able to paddle upstream without any problem. In fact, your biggest challenge at that flow level may be exposed sand and gravel bars.  You might have to do a fair bit of pulling your kayak. Also, at 170cfs, the Rockslide should be pretty easy; you might want to reconsider your options.  Here's another post I replied to last year that might be helpful.  I say all this, having never seen the Rockslide at that low level.  Although the flows would be low and slow, I suppose it's possible there could be a lot more exposed boulders and some interesting waves, but still I think it would be a fairly safe experience. You would, however, have to put-in at Lajitas.  The run from Lajitas to the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon can be done in a long day if you move aggressively, but I think it's a much, much better trip when split into two  days.

Either way, there are lots and lots of good campsites between the Rockslide and the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon.  I beached and camped almost immediately downstream of the rapids on a muddy, grassy island (there are a couple of pictures here in my trip report if you scroll down toward the end of that day's entry).  A party that went through the Rockslide just before me, camped slightly further downstream on an expansive gravelly beach.  And there are still other spots further downstream before the dramatic sheer rocky cliffs close in on you.  There's also Fern Canyon to explore on the Mexican side.  All in all, it should make for a nice, remote, solitary trip.  Water temps should be pleasant, and air temps inside the canyon could actually be quite cool.  The sun rarely reaches into the depths of Santa Elena Canyon and when it does, it's only for an hour or two.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline TexasAggieHiker

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1234
  • The road goes on forever & the party never ends...
Re: Santa Elena Boomerang Camping
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2020, 11:07:39 AM »
I was interested in you opinion since you seem to be the most recent person here to go through the canyon.  The temps are one of my big concerns. Getting dumped or having to drag too much could be an issue. Have to keep an eye on the forecast.

Anyone know about parking at the Santa Elena trailhead overnight, especially if you have a trailer. Id rather park there than the boat ramp. Id like to skip the shallow areas in that mile between the two.

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3375
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Santa Elena Boomerang Camping
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2020, 11:30:00 AM »
I was interested in you opinion since you seem to be the most recent person here to go through the canyon.  The temps are one of my big concerns. Getting dumped or having to drag too much could be an issue. Have to keep an eye on the forecast.

Anyone know about parking at the Santa Elena trailhead overnight, especially if you have a trailer. Id rather park there than the boat ramp. Id like to skip the shallow areas in that mile between the two.


Here's a slightly more recent trip that might answer most of your questions.  If you can contact Betsyatx directly, she might be your best resource.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline TexasAggieHiker

  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1234
  • The road goes on forever & the party never ends...
Re: Santa Elena Boomerang Camping
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2020, 09:02:55 AM »
HMOD I know you only took your fire pan out of being in compliance, but what is the availability of wood in the canyon for making fire?  May cook a real meal instead going the freeze dried route.

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3375
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Santa Elena Boomerang Camping
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2020, 12:43:35 PM »
HMOD I know you only took your fire pan out of being in compliance, but what is the availability of wood in the canyon for making fire?  May cook a real meal instead going the freeze dried route.

That's an excellent question.  I don't know if I can answer it very well.  For a couple of reasons.  First, the idea of actually making a fire never even occurred to me while I was floating that part of the river, so I wasn't paying attention to that aspect of my surroundings.  Second, unlike the river segments upstream and downstream from Santa Elena Canyon, the actual canyon itself has very few banks or beaches: it just rises mostly in sheer cliffs coming straight out of the water, and consequently what beaches, banks, and islands there are there, usually get scoured pretty good during floods.  So it's hard to say what will be there at any given time without recent intelligence.  That said, the couple other floaters I encountered in the canyon definitely make campfires at night. I could smell and even occasionally see their flicker coming from downcanyon.

So, with all those caveats, my answer would be: probably.  If I were a betting man, I would bet that I could make a fire with what I found.  There should be plenty of grass for kindling. If you can swing it, you might bring a folding saw or a compact wire saw in case all you find is big hunks of driftwood.  I hope it works out for you; I bet the effect of a fire in that high narrow canyon would be magical and wonderful - a feast for the eyes, the stomach, and the soul.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


©COPYRIGHT NOTICE

All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

2020 Big Bend Chat Calendar

 2020 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments