Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Paddlers - San Marcos River

Note: Left click on any photo to enlarge.

Eleven paddlers in one canoe and nine kayaks made the trip from the Power Olympic Outdoor Center at the I-35 access road to the crossing at Scull Road. Because of the longer-than-usual distance of 8 miles on the river, we made an earlier-than-usual start, meeting at the put-in at 9:30 a.m. That timing worked out well, as we beat all but the initial vanguard of tubers who clog the river starting at Westerfield crossing. After passing under the bridge there, we passed all of the tubers within a few minutes and made it to Pecan Park in time for a quick lunch stop before continuing down the river just as the first tubes began arriving. From there on it was clear sailing (or paddling). The river was flowing at about 87 cfs. The photo above shows Miguel, who planned this trip (we were sadly once again without Dear Leader), at the falls where the diversion channel which starts at Thompson Island rejoins the river.

Robert and I decided to run Cape Falls in order to avoid the portage at Thompson Island (well, actually, because we enjoyed the challenge). Looks like we may have been just a little too far to the right.

Water pours in over the starboard gunwale as we calmly take corrective action. Well, maybe not all that calmly, and perhaps not all that correctly.

We somehow avoided capsizing, and then guided the now-heavy canoe through the small rapid backwards. Not elegant, but effective. After emptying the water ballast from our boat, we continued down the San Marcos.

Robert held the canoe in place while I took the title photograph of Miguel at the diversion channel falls.

After making the portage at Cummings Dam, we made our first rest and cooling off stop. Here are a somewhat soaked Robert, Tom, Julie, and Cynthia.

Bob floats by.

I think this is the same Great Egret (formerly known as a Common Egret or American Egret) which we had spotted two weeks earlier in the stretch of river between Pecan Park and Cottonseed Rapid, and which is pictured in my blog post for that trip. Note that the egret appears to be missing the lower part of one of its legs. It let me approach remarkably close, as evidenced by this photo taken with my standard 18-70 mm zoom lens.

The egret took to the air once I moved within about 20 feet of it.

Feeding in the same area was this immature Little Blue Heron, which flew from the water to an overhanging tree.

Robert, having taken over the stern position after our lunch stop, patiently kept the canoe close by as I plodded around in the muck taking bird photos.

The great white photographer, as captured by Robert.

As though to make our brief stop complete, a Red-tailed Hawk soared overhead. At this point, I decided to mount the telephoto lens onto the camera, just in case any more wildlife decided to present itself.

Further downstream, I was happy I had made the lens change. As we came around a bend in the river, we spotted an immature Yellow-Crowned Night Heron near the bank.

It eventually flew to a safer perch.

Tom floated around the bend as we watched the heron.

The heron grooms itself.

Cottonseed Rapid

Reaching Cottonseed Rapid meant that our journey was almost at an end. Bob made his way through the rapid effortlessly, followed by Gary.

Julie playing in the surf as she enjoys observing the mayhem developing upstream.

Tom decided to inspect the vegetation more closely.

Rebecca attacks the rapid confidently.

Was her confidence misplaced?

Her triumphant look answers that question.

Miguel focuses intently on his route.

Challenging the rocks.

No problem.

Gary enjoys the view.

Back on his steed, Tom manuevers through the rapid.

His hat tells the story.

Bob, Bill, and Cynthia in the background, as Gary continues to cool off and Julie keeps on surfing.

Meanwhile, back at the entrance to Cottonseed, Mike has gone for a swim. I meant to do that!

Mike lines up his approach carefully.

Showing off.

Mike makes it through unscathed.

Our take-out at the Scull Road crossing was just a few minutes downstream from Cottonseed. It took us a little over four hours from the time we launched until we were loading our boats back onto our vehicles.

Note: For 49 additional phots of this trip, click here to be transferred to my Flickr page, then click on either "Slideshow" or "Detail."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Paddlers - San Marcos River

Note: Left click on any photograph to enlarge.

Eleven paddlers from San Antonio and Austin met at the Power Olympic Outdoor Center to launch their ten kayaks and one canoe on the San Marcos River. With some added distance due to a detour up the Blanco River from where it joins the San Marcos, we totaled about six and a half miles to our take-out at San Marcos River Retreat. The river was running at about 88 cfs, which was sufficient for a nice ride. In the photo above, Kathy leads Miguel and Vic around one of the many downed trees in the river.

Kathy got some shots of me running the falls at the dam at the head of Thompson's Island, just a short distance from the put-in. I did take on a few gallons of water as my bow plunged below the surface of the water.

Vic did just fine on his first outing with the Saturday Paddlers.

The waterfall where the diversion channel rejoins the river has its own special charm(s).

Plenty of shade for the paddlers.

Miguel glides past.

A Green Heron on the Blanco River, at the point where a portage would have been required to continue upstream.

Only Laurel accompanied me that far up the Blanco as the remaining paddlers stopped for lunch.

The view back downstream.

After rejoining the San Marcos, we stopped for a refreshing dip just below the portage at Cummings Dam. As you can see, there were a few more people on the river. Can you tell which two are Laurel and Jodie? Later, between Westerfield Crossing (the next road crossing below the dam) and our take-out at the park, we must have passed at least two hundred tubers.

Kathy, Mike, Miguel and I made a short detour to view the Hays County courthouse and town square in San Marcos before heading back to San Antonio.

For ten more photos of this outing, click here to make your own detour over to my Flickr page, then click on either "Slideshow" in the upper right of the page or "Detail" on the left.