Santa Elena Canyon via Canoe: 4 Dias y 3 Noches, Part 1

Double Exposure, spinning eclipse

Double Exposure, Spinning Eclipse

Michelle and I had done a number of extended trips on the water, but this was our first multi-day excursion in our new old canoe. Paddling through Big Bend National Park, we went from Lajitas through Santa Elena Canyon with our friends Kody and Jenny, soaking in vast starscapes, glowing canyon walls and some fun Class II water. My goal for the trip was to find some desert inspiration for photos and sketches, enjoy the company of good friends and immerse ourselves in Big Bend’s border waterway the Rio Grande.

Kody lights up the wall while firelight dances orange through the canyon.

At camp, Kody lights up the wall while firelight dances orange through the canyon.

Loaded down with our gear for a 4 day trip luckily didn’t have to make any significant portages. I had done a lot of new outfitting to the boat to ready for the trip so everything went real smooth and comfy. Organized and prepared we were able to focus on the views and relaxing. Each night our campsites continued to impress us and since we accomplished a 2-3 day trip in 3-4 days we got to spend nearly 2 whole days inside of the canyon. Camping in the canyon was an incredible experience, scroll down to see some of my favorite photos from the trip.

Starting the trip with clear skies and still water.

Starting the trip with clear skies and still water.

 

Setting up our first campsite at dusk

Setting up our first campsite at dusk

 

We awoke to stomping horse hoofs

We awoke to stomping horse hoofs. Rounding our tent and then narrowly passing by this mother horse tried to distract us from her colt across the river.

Excited for day 2, our canoe was ready to float us onward

Excited for day 2, our canoe was ready to float us onward

 

A shallow rapid awaited us at each river bend, most of which at this low flow rate pushed straight into the rivers walls. Here Kody and Jenny navigate one of the more rewarding rapids of the day near a confluence.

A shallow stony rapid awaited us at each river bend, most of which at this low 200cfs  flow rate would push straight into the river’s walls. Here Kody and Jenny navigate one of the more rewarding rapids of the day near a confluence just above our second campsite.

 

Today as it happened was Thanksgiving, so a tasty meal of stuffing, taters, summer sausage and gravy was served up. Great way to celebrate the holiday with friends and a warm sunset.

Today as it happened was Thanksgiving, so after a refreshing skinny dip in the Rio Grande, a tasty meal of stuffing, taters, summer sausage and gravy was served up. Great way to celebrate the holiday with friends and a warm sunset.

 

This was my first chance on the trip to shoot some night shots, since on day one I crawled into my tent at 8PM and crashed…

 

I shot with a few prime lenses this trip, this one a 35mm, so tried to do my cropping by moving forward and backward of the subject. I was excited about this composition reminding me of the small scenes from the corners of landscape romanticism paintings.

 

Rain was in the forecast this morning, as we woke up to a light drizzle. We went on a day hike out to a bluff and a nearby slot canyon.

Rain was in the forecast this morning, as we woke up to a light drizzle. We went on a day hike out to a bluff and a nearby slot canyon. Michelle poses with her trusty “snack pack”, cheesing it up for the camera with Jenny. Traveling with Michelle is a constant inspiration to stop and enjoy the details of what is around you. Here she teaches us about Resurrection moss and leafing Ocotillo.

 

Barrel cactus sprouts and retains water in this harsh scape

Beautiful pink thorny Barrel cactus sprouts and retains water in this harsh scape

PART 2 posting soon: entering the canyon via canoe, more night shots, impressive canyon views and some sketches to share.

All shots are taken manual from a Sony a6000 with a suite of vintage 25mm & 35mm prime lenses.

7 comments
  1. Suzan said:

    Loved your shots and stories. Your night photos are amazing….catching all those stars.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks Teri, hope your doing well! If you ever come through Austin, let me know!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Teri Hatch Aguilar said:

    Beautiful, thank you for sharing the adventure!
    Teri

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Brian said:

    Great read, excellent photos. Can’t wait for more.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wonderful! Love everything about this…your images, your writing and your spirit! Can’t wait for part 2! xo

    Liked by 2 people

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