Saturday, October 24, 2009

Guadalupe River - Water at Last!

Left click on any photo to enlarge.

Some significant rain during the week had the lower part of the Upper Guadalupe flowing at a rate not seen for two years. The Spring Branch gauge, which had actually experienced some readings of zero cfs at the height of the drought in late summer, peaked at a flow of over 1,900 cfs at noon on Wednesday. I was excited about the prospect of paddling a stretch of river we had not had the opportunity to enjoy for quite a while. And I was hopeful that the steadily declining water level would not drop too far by Saturday. As shown in the photo above of Rust Falls, it fortunately did not.

The Saturday Paddlers decided to run the river from the Waring crossing to the Sisterdale bridge. Since the Comfort gauge indicated that this section of the river would be flowing at around 100 cfs, while the Spring Branch gauge was pointing to a much higher water level further downstream, I chose to offer an alternative trip from Nichol's Landing (just below Specht's Crossing) to the Rebecca Creek Road bridge. Michael and Cynthia drove down from Austin to join me on this ten-mile stretch of the Guadalupe. We were rewarded with a river flow of a little over 400 cfs by the time we launched our boats.

At Nichol's Landing, we ran into another group of paddlers, including Julie and the Cusicks. Here Julie poses with Michael and Cynthia. The other group had not yet run their shuttle, so we started on the water ahead of them.

The three of us detoured up Spring Branch a short distance to the first set of falls, shown above.

Michael and Cynthia on Spring Branch.

The fall colors enhanced the scenery.

We stopped for lunch at the rapid just upstream from the Hwy. 311 bridge. As we enjoyed our frozen margaritas, the other group of paddlers overtook us.

Kathy Cusick and the other members of the group played in the rapid for a while before continuing down the river.

The three of us made another detour, this time paddling a short distance up Miller Creek, which flows into the Guadalupe just above Mueller Falls.

On the creek, looking back towards the river.

Michael (still dry) on Miller Creek.

We caught up with the other group at Mueller Falls, and decided to run the nice drop on river right. Above is Michael (now wet) paddling below the main falls after the drop.

Cynthia making a successful plunge over the drop.

Julie surfing below the falls.

I decided to drag my kayak back upstream to run the narrow channel that flows around the left side of the small island at the falls. Cynthia and I attempted to bring her kayak across the swift channel so that she could join in the fun, but we managed to flip her boat over and send her paddle floating downstream, to be retrieved by Michael.

Cynthia modelling her new skirt.

Michael snapped these photos of me coming down the channel.

Success! Actually, it was so much fun that I did it twice.

Further down the river, we again caught up with the other group, this time at Rust Falls. This photo shows the "horseshoe" at the falls. I was dissuaded from running this feature. Maybe next time.

It was getting late as we approached the end of our journey. The sun highlighted this bald cypress and its hanging moss as Michael glided past.

After the take-out at the Rebecca Creek Road crossing and the retrieval of Michael's vehicle at the put-in, we headed to San Antonio. A call to Kathy, who had by now arrived home from work, resulted in her meeting us for dinner at La Hacienda de los Barrios. After a filling meal (the Paradilla Grill, advertised as being for "four or more," could easily feed eight people), Michael and Cynthia headed back to Austin. Fortunately, my drive home was much shorter.

Note: For an additional 27 photos of this trip, click here to be linked to my Flickr page, then click on "Slideshow."