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Old 12-02-2013   #21
wildh2onriver's Avatar
irvine, California
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,197
Regarding a potential backup alternative: consider doing the lower canyons in a canoe. I've only run once, and it was at -300 cfs--but it was in a super puma with a 60qt cooler, t-box and a passenger. We ran this section in 6 nights, 7 days with no problems getting hung up, over Christmas into New Year's Eve. Spectacular, with hot springs, and yes, we camped every single night in Mexico. That was in 2005--I think.

Just a thought.

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Old 12-03-2013   #22
Austin, Texas
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 136
Originally Posted by Paddle_like_Hell View Post
lmyers, lots of good info. on here so far so I'll try not to be redundant.

Flow: I's say a min. of 250. Lowest I've ever done was 300cfs with a speed run this summer of Colorado and Santa Elena at 5k (more flow the better)

Shuttle: I suggest finding a different outfitter. Far Flung is a good outfitter for commercial trips but their reputation with providing private shuttles has taken a beating the last couple of years. Here's my latest experience with them.
We were quoted $130 for full shuttle of our 42 mile private river trip, ended up paying twice that. Charged $95 an hour for a driver to leave our truck at the take out. Greg, owner, was very rude and un-accommodating and justified the outrageous price by commenting "my guys gotta eat". I'll never use them again. Couple of other reliable outfitters in Turlingua willing to run your shuttle without ripping you off and giving you attitude.

Have a great trip.
Haha!! I was going to post up here about our trip shuttle but you beat me to it!

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Old 12-03-2013   #23
Dillon, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 61
Do some math on your drive times, shuttles, etc.; and when you will be arriving/leaving. Also, drive times for shuttles, etc., are lengthy out there. You will likely only have time for a single float, the best of which is Santa Elena. If all you care about is floating, you could squeeze in a roadside day float in Colorado Canyon, but why? If you've never been there before, a good plan is to spend one day in Terlingua (sunset on the porch with the locals, bar crawl to La Kiva, Starlight, Boat House); and another in the park seeing the Chisos Basin, Boquillas (tiny Mexican town, bring your passport), and the hot springs. A good itinerary is to do the first night in Terlingua; float 2-3 days in Santa Elena; take-out night either in Terlingua, or in the park; a day in the park.

Best outfitter- Desert Sports. Coolest shop there. It's run by a long-time desert hippie couple, and is reliable. The prices for shuttles don't vary much among them. The cheapest option is the "driver who uses your vehicle to drop you off, then pick you up". If you want to go even cheaper and are a gambling man, you can risk finding a local in the bar the night before, and have them run shuttle for you. For Boquillas Canyon (or the Lower Canyons), there are some other options on the east side of the park.

Staying out of trouble- the route into the park isn't usually an issue, since you won't get processed through a checkpoint, though there are a couple of ways where you can end up running through the processing side of a border patrol checkpoint on the way there. Definitely don't take ANYTHING on the way out.

The park rangers (off river) are as bad as the border checkpoints, so watch yourself when not floating. The park speed limit is 45 mph, and if you exceed it, you will likely get your car searched, likely with dogs. Don't have open containers while driving in the park.

Camping in Mexico- For a short time after 9/11, the govt went nuts and tried saying if you camped, or even floated on the Mexican half of the river, you had to re-enter through an official port of entry (100+ miles away). That only lasted a few months, and no one took it very seriously regarding camping within the river corridor. Officially, they now say only that camping on the Mexican side is "not recommended" (though there are a few select spots they list as "off limits"). There is a good chance you will have visitors if the campsite is horse accessible. It's usually just bored/curious young Mexican ranch hands.

As for floats- in a kayak, you will be able to do any of them, even at flows down to ~100cfs. The worst is low water just after a flash flood. The new channel takes a few days to form in the shifting gravel. Before that happens, much of the river is a bank to bank 1" gravel bar. The rapid ratings are legitimate, but are highly dependent on water level. Like any river, at very low flows, and very high ones, things are usually much easier. There are some levels in-between that make the boulder strewn choke points dangerous.

Santa Elena is the most spectacular canyon, and is best done as an overnight, though even at low flows it can be done in one ~8 hour day. I've even done 2 nighters to allow for more exploring within the canyon.

Mariscal is nice, but the shuttle is a PITA.

Boquillas is not as scenic, but more doable at low water and is a much longer float. 3 full days is about average. 4 is better.

The lower canyons could likely be done in 5 days; but would mean long days, and a horrendous shuttle. The logistics are difficult for this stretch.
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Old 12-04-2013   #24
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peoria, Arizona
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 125
Was looking at some old stuff and found this link

which is beta and TR's between Aulbach and Bowden. Interesting reading.

Buffalo Bayou

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Old 12-04-2013   #25
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peoria, Arizona
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 125

By any chance, are you the same okieboater that used to hang out on the BigBendChat forums several years ago?

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Old 12-04-2013   #26
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,407

Went to Big Bend late 90's and did lots of searching around for more information.

Memory not my strong suite these days (retired in 1999 and spend way too much time boating or message board looking). But, seems like we swapped some emails as I was looking for waypoints as I was working up my own off topo sheets and found out you were as well. You were ahead of me and I ended up using yours.

small world indeed.

Dave Reid aka okieboater
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Old 12-04-2013   #27
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 137
I did Boquillas in 3 nights 4 days and it is the prettiest canyon I have ever floated. I highly reccomend it if you have the time. I rented a canoe and got a shuttle from Desert River Expeditions (?) DRE. They were great with everything highly reccomended as well.

edit: Desert Sports as the other poster mentioned is who I used.
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Old 12-04-2013   #28
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 347
When it comes to safety equipment, unless you are crossing the border itself, the border patrol can't detain you or search your vehicle without probable cause. If you hit a checkpoint and they wave you over, ask if you "are being detained". If they say no, you can just drive away. They'll keep trying to talk to you but can't make you stay there without having obvious evidence of a crime (your safety equipment in plain view).

Similarly, unless they have obvious evidence of a crime, they can't search your vehicle without permission. They'll try to get around it by asking something sneaky like "mind if I take a look in your car". All you have to do is say "I don't consent to any searches" and stand firm. Refusing to let them look inside your car doesn't give them probable cause. Clearly this changes as soon as you drive across the border.
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Old 12-04-2013   #29
Dillon, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 61
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
When it comes to safety equipment, unless you are crossing the border itself, the border patrol can't detain you or search your vehicle without probable cause.
There is always a comment of this sort, but I've never heard of someone successfully using it. Anyway, I'm pretty sure they have "probable cause" if the dog alerts on your rig (which they (currently) don't need probable cause to do). If you're real careful, you can avoid leaving any scent that would alert the dog from outside.

They will still ask, occasionally and not so randomly, to "have a look inside your car", even if the dog doesn't alert. If you refuse, they will likely at least do another dog pass from the outside. They will surely flag your vehicle in the computer.

I just went through this down there. I was asked if they could do a search, even after they did numerous perimeter passes with the dog even jumping up on my car. I consented, and warned them that if they breaky, they buy; and if they ransack my gear pile, they have to put it back in. Of course, I knew I wasn't holding.
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Old 12-04-2013   #30
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 347
They can't run around your car with a dog and talk to you etc. if you don't let them detain you. As long as you are not crossing the border any time spent talking to them or sitting at the checkpoint is considered completely voluntary. The first words out of your mouth if you're being particularly safe that day should be "am I being detained". They can't detain you without cause even for as long as it takes to get a dog over to sniff your car.

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