Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Paddlers - Guadalupe River

The stretch of river from the Zoeller Lane crossing to the Sisterdale bridge is known as a good trip for beginners. However, it proved to be one of our more eventful recent outings. Of the ten experienced paddlers (in eight kayaks and two canoes), three ended up taking a swim, or at least filling their boats with the cold river water. Not a pleasant experience on a rather chilly day.

According to the Comfort and Spring Branch gauges, the river was running at about 175 cfs and 750 cfs, respectively. We guessed that the river flow at our location was somewhere around 300 cfs. A nice relief from the low water we had experienced during the past two years of drought conditions.

The Cast of Characters

Sandra, ...

Jim, ...

Joline, ...

Susan, ...

Miguel, ...

Ronnie, ...

the back of David, who is always an elusive target, ...

Tom, ...

Dean, ...

... and yours truly.

Down the River

Ronnie and Dean display their faith in geology.

Sandra, our first casualty, heads into the brush to change into dry clothes. It is rumored that a rancher out for a walk now has a better appreciation for the river invaders.

Even on a gray day, there was some color.

Were these black vultures anticipating more casualties?

Violet Rapid

Miguel and Tom power through the rapid.

Susan takes the upstream route past "Nancy Rock."

Jim splashes past.

Ronnie maneuvers expertly through the rapid in Jim's canoe.

Dean's passage was a little more exciting.

Man overboard!

I think Sandra was expecting heavy rains.

Joline obviously wasn't worried. Note the unfastened skirt and pfd.

I walked back upstream for another run (photos by Miguel).


A local celebrity was uncharacteristically shy as Kathy joined us for dinner at Papa Nacho's Cantina.

Well, maybe not so shy.

Note: Left click on any photo to enlarge. And for another 33 photos from this adventure, click this link to my Flickr page, then click on "Slideshow."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Saturday Paddlers - Lower Guadalupe River

Eleven hardy souls continued the Saturday Paddlers' New Year's Day tradition of paddling the Guadalupe River just below Canyon Dam. The sun was out and the release from the dam was a little over 100 cfs, a good combination for a pleasant run. Our fleet consisted of one canoe and ten kayaks.

Note: Left click on any image to enlarge.

Sandra, Shelley, ...

Scott, Gary, ...

... Joline, Larry, and David launch their boats at the put-in.

We stopped for lunch at Horseshoe Falls. Before pulling over, David and I ran the falls without scouting them first, and one of us took a swim. Posing above are Bob, Susan, a wet David, Joline, Sandra, Scott, Shelley, Larry, Sally, and Gary. Horseshoe Falls had changed significantly since our last visit exactly one year earlier. Some of the gravel and debris deposited by the 2002 flood had been dredged from below the falls, which now at least slightly resemble, even if in a scaled- down way, the Horseshoe Falls of old.

After a hearty repast, three of us decided to run the rapid. Susan led the way.

For a moment it looked like she might be going for a swim, but soon she was celebrating her clean run.

She did seem inordinately pleased with herself.

The mermaid (of the species rivermorejoy) keeping watch over the falls seemed to be enjoying the show. Up next was Bob, who carefully lined up his boat for the falls after passing over the low-water dam.

His run proved to be a little more exciting.

Did I mention that the water was cold?

Joline and Larry waited expectantly as I carried my kayak back upstream to make another run through the rapid.

Above is Larry's photo of me coming over the drop. The other photos of me were taken by Sandra with my camera. Thanks to both of you.

The bow of my old-school whitewater kayak dove into the water as I plunged over the falls, but popped back up quickly and carried me through unscathed. Probably much to the disappointment of some of those watching.

Scott observed the falls from below.

Our next river obstacle was 2-1/2 mile dam. Pictured above are Bob and Joline just below the dam, which is best run towards river left just before the dam makes a 45-degree turn. Most of us got hung up on the dam, like Shelley below, because we hit it just past (instead of just before) the point where the dam turns at an angle.

Sally found herself suspended, with almost half of her kayak hanging over the lip of the dam. But she made it through with a smile. Not bad for someone who had never paddled in moving water before.

Gary also found himself hanging over the edge, and ended up with a kayak full of water. The last photo shows him trying to spot his paddle as it escaped downstream.

We were escorted by some local wildlife. Identification anyone?

Sally displayed her new-found paddling skills in another rapid, while Gary watched from below.

Larry also enjoyed the challenge.

We floated past one of my favorite features on the Lower Guadalupe, what I call the Old Man of the Mountain.

We took out at the second (downstream) crossing of Hwy. 306 over the river. For some reason, I took photos of the paddlers loading their boats onto their vehicles. Shown here are Sandra, Shelley, Scott, and Bob.

Note: To see an additional 46 photos of this very pleasant trip, click here to be transported to my Flickr page, then click "Slideshow."