Sunday, October 23, 2011

Devil's River, TX

            After arriving in San Antonio, TX I had two main goals for the trip.  Eat lots of good Mexican food and lots of pork BBQ.  After getting our rental car (huge Ford escalade – biggest vehicle I’ve driven in, but I guess it is Texas) we found a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, which turned out to exceed our expectations on Mexican food.  One of the main things I dislike about Missoula is the lack in variety of good food.  It took us four hours to drive to the 5000 acre ranch where we would be hosted.  Here we had some great southern hospitality and dinner was Pork BBQ.  Day one my expectations were met. 
We headed to the river at about 5 am the next day. Fly fishing turned into an extreme adventure on this trip.  We spent three days on a desolate river bordering Mexico.  The days were long and full of some fishing, but mostly paddling and hiking the canoe.  There wasn’t much water in the river, so it was tricky paddling.  Brad Tyer paddled my canoe as I sat up front filming our host, Conway Bowman.  The river was full of tricky spots including a 14 foot waterfall we had to lower the canoes down.  When you consider canoes full of $50,000 worth of camera gear, this trip was set up to be a disaster.  We had everything in dry bags, but this river is also notorious for flash floods.  It could be raining 50 miles away and because the land is mostly rock, everything drains to the river and “the wall” of water floods the valley in minutes.  The land on either side of the river is private, so camping is illegal.  We had to find little rock islands in the river to camp on.  The first night I slept on a small rock where my sleeping bag was only a foot from the water.  I woke up several times with only inches separating me from being a wet mummy submerged in the river.  The second night we found a better island with much more room. 
Conway didn’t catch many fish, but soon after we began the trip it became apparent that this show wasn’t about fishing, but rather surviving the 30 miles down this river.  There is no cell service and a recue on this trip would be nearly impossible.  It takes three days to get down the river and from there it’s still a couple hours on a washed out bumpy road to the nearest town.  No satellite phone or anything.  If someone got severely hurt on the river, then they’d be shit out of luck.  It made me think back to when I shattered my knee cap.  It was bad enough on the Gorge, but if something like that had happened on this river then…man, I don’t even want to think about what would happen.
            Fortunately, everyone made it down this river in one piece.  The other miracle is that all of our camera gear made it down with no problems.  It was an awesome river trip, but it also felt good to get all of that equipment off of the river.
Our final day we drove the ranch and checked out 10,000 year old Indian petroglyphs.  Learned about how people hunt in Texas.  In brief they fence the animals in their ranch, put up feeders, and wait in a shelter until the animals are feeding, so they have an easy shot.  Not quite the same as Montana.  We finished the day with some amazing steak and beer, and packed up for the next video shoot in Arkansas.

1 comment:

  1. What an adventure! I'm very envious and happy for you. The steak and beer sounds wonderful!