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Article: Road Trip: Boquillas Canyon

Patrick Smith

Road Trip: Boquillas Canyon

Let’s begin where we left off: with the Blizzard interruption here at home. Our final snow depth was 25 inches. We most always get a lot more up here on the north side of Green Mountain than anywhere else in the metro area. 

Getting back to Big Bend, I had a very nice elk supper at the somewhat bland campsite assigned to me on the Rio Grande. I say bland because the topography was flat along the banks…no picturesque canyon walls, for which the Big Bend section of the river is famous. In fact, where I was camped was easy access for border-crossers with nefarious pursuits in mind. 


A prudent road tripper will always have the means of self-defense and provisioning at hand. Here is what was on board Sheeba on this outing: 

LONG GUN—My venerable “Woodpecker” .308. Many of you have seen images of this peculiar piece; some have seen it in person. It is an extremely skeletonized Model 600 Remington in .308 Winchester, circa 1965. Its nickname derives from the hundreds of holes drilled through its stock to lighten weight. It was the original prototype Rambling Rifle, and I still deploy it for Road trips…it’s so ugly nobody would think of stealing it if they broke into my truck. An Aimpoint T1 red dot sits atop the receiver. All up, Woody weighs in slightly on the plus side of four pounds. As with all my rifles, Woody has handloaded ammo at hand to suit three performance parameters: Small Game, Big Game, and Dangerous Game. Of course the BG category covers quite well a stand-off scenario with two legged bad guys at a distance: it shoots very accurately out to four hundred yards with that RD site if I do my part. The SG and DG loads are always along in the event I need to take small game for the pot (SG), or if I’m in bear country (DG)…or need to disable a vehicle with big 220 grain slugs. My load recipes for these Triple Categories are in the Essays Section here on the website if readers want to know the details on crafting them. 
HAND GUNS—I brought along my featherweight Ruger/Packlite .22 with its Thunderbeast suppressor. Shooting Remington or CCI Subsonic ammo, this is the stealthiest firearm available. Perfect for fetching small game unobtrusively if necessary or for stealthy wet work on bad dudes if required. If a bit more noise is tolerable CCI Stingers get the nod, and are quite potent—the equivalent of a .22 rifle with standard High Velocity ammo. The little gun is very accurate and is a not-there weight it my Koala as well as completely invisible. 

My Glock 17 rested under the pillow on my sleeping couch in Sheeba for this trip, loaded with Buffalo Bore Plus-P 115 grain hollow points. Under the driver’s seat was my ancient-but-still-worthy Star PD in 45 ACP, running BB 230 gr Hollow points. 
This array was selected for this trip. Other arrays could include: my Ruger Carbine in .44 Magnum, my 7-30 Waters with fold-up Choat stock, which is very stealthy indeed—slipping into a day pack for example, or perhaps my stubby little 350 Remington Magnum for travels in the Northwest or Alaska where the really big bears roam. Or the 50 Beowulf for rapid and plentiful firepower. Or to get really serious about the bruins, just stow away that lightweight oh-so-potent synthetic Sako in .375 H&H. Alternative handguns might include a .480 Ruger, Glock 21 with Bear-grade 45 Super ammo or my superb old Ramline .22 which has a great deal of firepower with its 20 round magazines. It is comforting to have options that suit differing scenarios, and speaks well of acquiring a well-thought-out battery of firearms.

Readers will not be surprised to hear that I never had to resort to using these guns on this trip. Such things are rare. Nevertheless, the old saying about never needing a gun until you really need one is sage advice. I know. Having one has saved my bacon, more than once, over the years. Politically correct naivete concerning guns is for prey. I am not prey. 

Boquillas Canyon was the Real Deal, topography-wise, featuring looping curves in the river which then enters the vertical cliffs comprising the canyon. One needs to hike to get there. Along the way I came across a small display of handicrafts to the side of the trail. What’s this? I surmised the items for sale were crafted across the river by Mexican artisans, and sneaked across daily by rowboat—gazing across the stream I could just make out a boat tucked into the reeds on the Mexico side. The items were well-done little scorpions and spiders constructed of beads and copper wire. Also, nice walking sticks painted with local flora and fauna. This, in a niche in the rocks off the trail with a coffee can for depositing cash in on the honor system. The asking prices for the pieces ranged from six to thirteen US dollars. So I purchased several things for the Grandkids—inserting cash into the coffee can receptacle. I enjoyed this surprise event very much. The crafts were well made and an honest price asked. I suspect the Park Authorities are either skirted by watchful eyes across the river—the boatmen scooting back over to snatch the goods if Rangers are spotted—or the authorities turn a blind eye to the practice, with a smile I would think. All players in this little beat-the-bureaucracy gambit are winners in my opinion. I smiled when the grandkids admired their little Big Bend toy critters. Authentic? You bet! 

So. Boquillas Canyon was a Biggie. Majestic and bold and just the thing for my Bucket List re Big Bend National Park. 

Next: Beyond Boquillas….

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