by Ken Anderson & Louis Aulbach
Last month, on the third weekend of February, a group of mostly HCC members paddled the Rio Grande through Boquillas Canyon in the Big Bend National Park. The trip was organized by Philip and Tisha Matticks, and the participants included Ken Anderson, Louis Aulbach, David and Maurie Conger, Robert Killian, David Risch, Sandy Rushworth and Kent Walters.
The trip in-and-of itself wasn’t extraordinary, and in the sense, it almost never occurred. The water level on the Rio Grande during Winter months is generally a bit low, but, on the day before the scheduled put-in, the cfs dramatically rose to an easy level and stayed there until the day after the take-out. Makes you think, doesn’t it? It's as if someone in that group is well connected!
On Monday prior to the trip, the Mexican reservoir authorities began to release a little water from their reservoirs. The gauge at Presidio read over 600 cfs and that flow began to trickle down to Rio Grande Village. On Thursday, the flow at RGV was up to 378 cfs. The decision was made to go! When we did get on the water on Friday morning, the river was up to 415 cfs. That is the highest flow most of us have seen in years.
The paddlers included experienced and not-so experienced folks the affect of which served to build confidence in the newer paddlers. For example, at one point the new paddlers learned lining around a rapid. Others leaned the hard way that the river cane is something to avoid.
The impact of warm days and cool nights lead to high wind conditions during one evening but, other than one windy night, the weather was great, with blue sky and low humidity. At night, we gazed at stars until blocked by the light of a full moon, and we listened to coyotes talking to one another. It was quite a show!
We saw beaver signs (but no beavers) and at least one of us saw a bobcat. We saw horses and wild burros (the horses are Mexican-owned and let out to graze), and we listened to them talk to one another at night.
It was the kind of relaxing and enjoyable trip that makes the Rio Grande in the Big Bend one of the finest expedition rivers in the Southwest. Thanks to the Matticks' for organizing the trip.
| The authors, Ken Anderson & Louis Aulbach