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Partial Day of Canoeing?

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Offline jessikastone

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Partial Day of Canoeing?
« on: March 19, 2014, 10:06:22 AM »
Greeting Big Benders!

First trip coming up in a couple weeks and I would like to know how realistic this plan is.  The Boyfriend and I would like to do one full day of hiking (South Rim) and then on the other full day, do some canoeing in Santa Elena Canyon (if the water flow is right).  Assuming that it is practical to think we can paddle upstream, then float back down (which is what was suggested by an outfitter since it's hard to get a shuttle for just a day trup) this is what we had in mind:

8am:  Leave Chisos Basin and head to Terelinga where the outfitters are located
9am:  Arrive at outfitter, rent canoe, load it and head down to the canyon
11 to 3pm: Drop canoe in water, paddle upstream for an hour or two. Eat lunch and take pics.  Float back downstream to car
3pm:  Load up canoe and drive back to Terelingua taking the scenic drive and stop to look around along the way
4:30 to 5:  Return Canoe and head back the Basin

Is this a good idea or will we not really get to experience the canyon on this short of a trip?  We don't really have the gear for an overnight float trip, and would rather spend the time hiking the South Rim on the other day.  additionally, we're trying to avoid paying a hundred or so extra dollars on a shuttle. 

Trying to decide if this will be a better experience than just spending the day driving the scenic road down to Santa Elena and hiking around there. 

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2014, 11:49:22 AM »
Greeting Big Benders!

First trip coming up in a couple weeks and I would like to know how realistic this plan is.  The Boyfriend and I would like to do one full day of hiking (South Rim) and then on the other full day, do some canoeing in Santa Elena Canyon (if the water flow is right).  Assuming that it is practical to think we can paddle upstream, then float back down (which is what was suggested by an outfitter since it's hard to get a shuttle for just a day trup) this is what we had in mind:

8am:  Leave Chisos Basin and head to Terelinga where the outfitters are located
9am:  Arrive at outfitter, rent canoe, load it and head down to the canyon
11 to 3pm: Drop canoe in water, paddle upstream for an hour or two. Eat lunch and take pics.  Float back downstream to car
3pm:  Load up canoe and drive back to Terelingua taking the scenic drive and stop to look around along the way
4:30 to 5:  Return Canoe and head back the Basin

Is this a good idea or will we not really get to experience the canyon on this short of a trip?  We don't really have the gear for an overnight float trip, and would rather spend the time hiking the South Rim on the other day.  additionally, we're trying to avoid paying a hundred or so extra dollars on a shuttle. 

Trying to decide if this will be a better experience than just spending the day driving the scenic road down to Santa Elena and hiking around there.
For a first trip to BIBE, I'd forgo the canoe and spend all day driving the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and hiking Santa Elena Canyon and a few other short hikes. That's a lot of effort to get the canoe, etc. If you had more time in the park, you could see about picking up the canoe the afternoon before (assuming the outfitter is ok with that).

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Offline Raoul Duke

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2014, 12:29:51 PM »
You can definitely experience the majesty of Santa Elena Canyon by paddling upriver into the Canyon.  Once you round the first bend and lose sight of the mouth, you get the real feeling of being inside the canyon.  I would allow for more than 1-2 hours, though.  Most people like to paddle up into Fern Canyon, which is at least an hour's paddle from the mouth. Assuming you wanted to explore various spots on the river for an hour, I would plan for at least 3 hours.

Be sure to put in at the Santa Elena Canyon Trailhead, and not the Santa Elena boat ramp, which would add about a mile of paddling each way.  You have to carry your boat a bit further to get to the river from the trailhead, but it will save you lots of time.

The water is really low right now.  It's so low that you will likely be pulling the boat over shallow spots, so be prepared to get wet and muddy.  It's still worth the effort!
"Getting bored with your neurosis?  Drop you analyst--drop him/her like a cold potato--and make tracks for the nearest river." -Edward Abbey

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Offline jessikastone

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2014, 12:57:13 PM »
Thanks Richard.  I hadn't thought about trying to get the canoe the afternoon before.  I we can make it out there in time, that might be an option.  Otherwise it will be difficult to get everything in in within the time frame.

Raoul - Thanks for the tip about the trailhead/vs boat ramp.  I'll keep that in mind if we do this.

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Offline kevint

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2014, 03:53:15 PM »
I don't know how regular this problem is but I talked to one person who did this round trip in Santa Elena and had a hard time getting out of the canyon because of the strong winds blowing him back upstream with little to no help from the current.
-- Kevin (W5KLT)

"It's not an adventure until something goes wrong."  --Yvon Chouinard

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Offline Al

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2014, 03:56:25 PM »
I don't know how regular this problem is but I talked to one person who did this round trip in Santa Elena and had a hard time getting out of the canyon because of the strong winds blowing him back upstream with little to no help from the current.

Kevin, excellent point.  Wind can be a HUGE factor.

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Offline jessikastone

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2014, 04:15:19 PM »
I don't know how regular this problem is but I talked to one person who did this round trip in Santa Elena and had a hard time getting out of the canyon because of the strong winds blowing him back upstream with little to no help from the current.

Hmm...That is something to think about.  But would the water be shallow enough where I could hop out and push, if it came to that?

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Offline Hoodoo

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2014, 05:43:45 PM »
I don't know how regular this problem is but I talked to one person who did this round trip in Santa Elena and had a hard time getting out of the canyon because of the strong winds blowing him back upstream with little to no help from the current.

Hmm...That is something to think about.  But would the water be shallow enough where I could hop out and push, if it came to that?

I haven't done Santa Elena in low water but based on what others have said, I would say yes you could hop out and push or pull in some places and probably no in other deeper sections.

I can however vouch for the southerly winds overcoming the low current on the stretch of the rio known as the "great unknown" from Santa Elena take out to Talley where the river generally runs from the northwest to the southeast against the wind.

Whatever you decide it will be fun, just be willing to have a Plan B...
Don
Fort Worth

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Offline Raoul Duke

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2014, 06:15:54 PM »
I don't know how regular this problem is but I talked to one person who did this round trip in Santa Elena and had a hard time getting out of the canyon because of the strong winds blowing him back upstream with little to no help from the current.

Hmm...That is something to think about.  But would the water be shallow enough where I could hop out and push, if it came to that?

The gauge at Castolon is currently reading 70 cfs.  It's known to be unreliable, so it could be quite a bit lower.  In any case, at 70 cfs or lower, you could get out and walk pretty much anywhere in the river.  In fact, the challenge will be to find a channel with enough water to float your boat.  Bear in mind, however, that getting out and walking in the river is no fun.  The river bottom in many places is muddy quicksand, and you can end up sinking to your knees in mud. 

As for wind: the last 3/4 mile or so of the canyon, which is open to the mouth, is slack water with virtually no current at all (at low water levels anyway).  If there is a strong wind blowing into the canyon, paddling that section can be difficult.
"Getting bored with your neurosis?  Drop you analyst--drop him/her like a cold potato--and make tracks for the nearest river." -Edward Abbey

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: Partial Day of Canoeing?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2014, 10:09:12 PM »
Sounds like fun!

 


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