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Road Trip - Page 3
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Thread: Road Trip

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    227

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Great stuff!

    History lessons, rambling, and knowing the company is in good hands...priceless.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: Road Trip

    I find this thread more captivating than any in a good long while. Your campfire stories must be incredible Mr. Smith!

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Broomfield, CO
    Posts
    478

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Great thread. It has been a little slow around here lately.... I am excited to hear the Master will be posting more adventure threads!

  4. #24

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Very cool to hear the history and future of Kifaru.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
    Posts
    4,162

    Default Re: Road Trip

    ROAD TRIP CONTINUES….

    I’m back from scouting and find 14” of snow here at the homestead. Still coming down in fact. A normal spring here in Colorado.
    The scouting was rewarding. I located elk, whitetail and mule deer…all within a three mile hike of each other. The location was low enough in altitude to be snow-free, even in March! Altogether, a pretty fair find.

    But let’s get back to the ROAD TRIP narrative. We left off at McKinney Spring Camp. The next morning found me hiking around the area after a surprisingly cold night. By mid-morning I was poking along in Sheeba down the remaining 26 miles of solitariness that defines Old Ore Road. Headed for the Rio Grande river. If the upper section of this road was uniquely lovely—in a mountainous desert way—this new section was spectacular, revealing vast basins of arid wasteland backstopped many miles away by muscular desert mountains shouldering into the sky to the west. Sheeba growled up steep ridges and down through deep corrugated arroyos. The old girl lives for such challenge—was seemingly born to it—and this was refreshingly different than anything she, we, had yet seen. Our normal fare is either alpine switchbacks or gulley-infested sagebrush. This was a treat for the eye as well as a new challenge.

    We arrived at the famed Rio Grande Del Norte in the afternoon. I immediately put on a hike along the northern bank of course, and dipped hands into the waters, which originate in my own Colorado, like so many rivers that flow west and east from our position atop the continent. (Perhaps readers will be interested to know that 85% of all landmass above ten thousand feet in North America—to include Mexico and Canada and Alaska—resides in Colorado.) The river was about twenty yards wide. A determined wader could cross it, with maybe a bit of swimming in the channel, which might have been over one’s head but more likely chest high…hard to tell from the bank. The current was slow, the water fairly clear. Definitely not muddy brown. The banks were brushy. Okay, so this is the Big Guy I thought. My designated Camp was here; on the morrow I would visit Boquillas Canyon and get some more dramatic views of Big Guy.

    But for now, I need to interrupt our story and start shoveling snow. I’m told Denver International Airport is closed. Yep, this is a humdinger of a blizzard. I frankly like dealing with ‘em. They are certainly not boring.

    Next: Boquillas Canyon and beyond….

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
    Posts
    4,162

    Default Re: Road Trip

    BOQUILLAS CANYON (and Interlude Four)

    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.

    INTERLUDE FOUR: ROAD TRIP ARMAMENT

    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….

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    433

    Default Re: Road Trip


    I believe this is the Woodpecker

  8. #28

    Default Re: Road Trip

    I love how many guns you took! Thanks for sharing your write up.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
    Posts
    4,162

    Default Re: Road Trip

    BEYOND BOQUILLAS

    Returning from the hike out to the canyon I climbed aboard Sheeba and motored southwest along remote River Road East to intersect with the equally remote 4WD Glenn Springs Road for the long poke northwest into the Chisos Mountains—the range viewed across the broad basin coming down from McKinney Spring Camp. Destination: Camp Chilicotal—another delightfully isolated solo campsite.
    From there I would climb up into the Chisos for some pack-testing. From the campsite I could gaze eastward over the now-familiar basin to the Sierra Del Carmen Range that had flanked my left on the jolting ride down Old Ore Road to the river. But from a much higher elevation than looking to the west from Old Ore Road. I liked the effect. The trip up to Chilicotal passed through stages of fender-scratching high-desert vegetation. I liked that too.
    I settled in for a mule deer loins supper and a Lone Star beer (“The National Beer Of Texas”…says so right on the cans); I had snagged a 12 pack in Marathon on the way down to the Park—who could resist that? Excellent brew in fact! I watched the sunset then the star-matted sky through completely translucent atmosphere. It had been some time since I had seen in such detail the smeared splendor of the Milky Way. This part of Texas is so remote that light pollution doesn’t exist. (One hears no airliner sounds, nor sees contrails across the sky—the region is not on any aircraft routes!) It’s the reason the famous McDonald Observatory is situated in the nearby Davis Mountains. (Our journey will take us through these surprising-find mountains in due course.)
    Next morning I 4-wheeled up to the Pine Canyon Trailhead. The trail was hemmed by stony cliffs and ascended into Ponderosa Pines and smooth-as-flesh barked Madrone trees. A small creek created an oasis-like atmosphere. On my back was a heavy load on a prototype suspension system Aron and I had dreamed up. We never cease trying to discover the “next-one”—a suspension candidate that surpasses the Duplex System. I had sewed the prototype prior to heading out on this trip, and this was the big test. The terrain was ripe for it.
    Four hours later I had the verdict: NOPE. NADA. NYET. While the prototype was a very worthy one, the Duplex still rules. (I want to remind readers that we are ruthless about ceaseless research—it’s what we do at Kifaru. If we can create a better mouse trap we will deploy it. We’ll keep trying, be assured.)
    Back at Camp I decided it was warm enough and certainly private enough to treat myself to a bath. I had placed jugs of water out to soak up sun that morning before departing for the trailhead and the suspension test. Standing on a flat rock in my birthday suit I sluiced a jug over myself, soaped down all of me including the hair, rinsed with more jugs and air-dried in the sun. What a fine thing after the tough hike! The evening was devoted to another natural meat supper, more than one Lone Star and more star-gazing. Punctuated by de-briefing notes in the Prototype Notebook dedicated to the suspension system I had just wrung out. (There is always “work” to be done….)
    I also pored over my map, looking for the most appetizing route to our next destination: Santa Elena Canyon--the “other” great Canyon Big Bend displays for the Traveler’s delight. We’ll head that way in our next episode….

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
    Posts
    4,162

    Default Re: Road Trip

    SANTA ELENA CANYON

    Santa Elena Canyon sits at the western edge of the Park, whereas Boquillas Canyon resides on the eastern edge. I had selected the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive as my route to Santa Elena because the “scenic” part of its title promised more of the eye-candy views I was there for, at least in part. It was my first journey of any distance in the Park on a paved road. It was indeed scenic. Down, down off Burro Mesa Sheeba and I rolled, with the Chisos Range on the left. Through Tuff Canyon (spectacular) to the ending of the pavement at the Santa Elena trailhead. Only one fellow traveler was encountered on the way. The Park is sparsely visited in early March it would seem.
    I set out on the path to the Canyon and soon found myself at an expansive beach where the Rio Grande exits the Canyon. Walking across the sand toward the Canyon I had to cross a feeder creek on a mat of driftwood. It seemed strange that the Park Service wouldn’t have a bridge over the creek for the benefit of city-folk visitors. The same thoughts occupied my mind when I was forced to scramble up the cliff-like bank of the feeder creek in order to keep going. Anyway, the path soon turned into a purpose-built catwalk ascending the canyon wall. What a view opened up the higher I climbed! Santa Elena seemed to hem the river even more tightly than Boquillas, with sheer cliffs rising hundreds of feet on both sides. It must be grand to boat through the Canyon! The place was hushed, like Boquillas. There was no one there but me. What a treat! I dawdled. I mused about what to do next.
    I decided to leave the Park earlier than the designated Plan put together with the Rangers back at the Persimmon Gap Entrance had laid out. With Santa Elena Canyon covered I figured I had seen the core of the Park, and my goal for the Road Trip also called for exploring places for real-deal rambling. Such freedom is not to be found in National Parks. I had hiked and 4-wheeled the heart of Big Bend. Do not underestimate my intention in saying that that Big Bend is well worth any outdoorsman’s bucket list in checking out magnificent, remote desert scenery…I was, and am, satisfied with my decision to go see it. But I needed to move on and check out non-pinned-down potential Rambling Country.
    The most direct route for exiting the Park from Santa Elena Canyon was to take the unpaved Old Maverick Road north to the Maverick Junction Entrance/Exit station. So Sheeba and I headed out on it. Maverick proved an apt name for the route. When we arrived at the station I advised the Ranger on duty that I was leaving early and so my un-used campsites could be assigned to other pilgrims.
    A few miles west of the Maverick Junction station lay the fabled town of Terlingua—home of the world-famous Terlingua Chili Cook-off each year. The burg was situated in high and dry desert, and not really much to look at. I wasn’t on a cultural exploration trip—instead, a backpacking country quest—and so I didn’t even stop, but headed north on Texas highway 118 toward Alpine through the Davis Mountains.

    Next: Terlingua to Deming, New Mexico….

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