Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Paddlers - Guadalupe River

Note: Left click on any photo to enlarge.

Honey Creek

A large group of paddlers showed up to run the five-mile stretch from the Guadalupe River State Park to Nichols Landing. The river was flowing at just under 200 cfs, according to the Spring Branch gauge, which is located about 5.6 miles downstream from our take-out.

When we arrived at Nichols Landing with our vehicles while running the shuttle, the parking lot was too full to accommodate most of our cars. The Comal County attendant on duty was not particularly helpful, and didn't provide us with any alternatives. Not really a very good operation for the launching point of an official State of Texas Paddling Trail. But worse was yet to come from our friendly Comal County officials. More on that later.

The river at the State Park was a madhouse, full of swimmers and those floating on tubes and swimming pool toys. One clueless tuber asked Kathy how long it took to "get back around." Kathy tried to explain the linear nature of a river, but was too busy dodging swimmers and tubers to successfully make the point. I guess not everyone understands the difference between a river and a water park.

Mike checks his watch as the Saturday Paddlers get ready to launch at the State Park. He was paddling the Dagger Dimension whitewater canoe solo, in preparation for our upcoming trip on the Rio Chama. The experiment was a success, even though a thwart thwarted him from sitting in the bow seat and paddling the canoe with the stern leading the way. Of course, sitting in the stern position without a passenger up front meant that the bow was high and out of the water. After a while, we lessened the trim problem somewhat by placing Robert's ice chest in the canoe and as far forward as possible.

Several of us paddled a short distance up Honey Creek to look at the small waterfall (see photo at beginning of this post). Some got a little tangled up as we turned around to head back to the Guadalupe. Above, Mike snaps a photo of Joline, below, as she tries to avoid being run over.


Limestone bluffs added to the scenery.

At our lunch stop, we enjoyed a variety of cold treats. I served frozen margaritas and Robert provided ice cream sandwiches and fruit bars. I won't describe how Reiko entertained us with her frozen fruit bar. You'll just have to ask her.






When we arrived at Nichols landing, one of those who had found a space in the parking lot gave those who had not a ride up to their vehicles. Because of "No Parking" signs along Old Spring Branch Road, they had driven the half mile to the intersection with Spring Branch Road, and parked in a clear area off to the side of that major road. Despite the complete absence of any signs prohibiting parking next to or along the road, they arrived to find parking violation tickets on their windshields. I witnessed the parking attendant at the Nichols Landing parking lot being upset when the paddlers left the full lot to head up to the main road, and can only surmise that he called a buddy in the sheriff's office to teach us a lesson. Or maybe the County needs the revenue generated by fines. In any event, they certainly don't seem interested in promoting tourism and the commerce generated by visiting paddlers.

The tickets were dismissed when the paddling criminals dared to show up at their court hearing. The County prosecutor admitted that there had been no violation, but warned them that they would be ticketed again if they parked next to the main road! Go figure. Better yet, contact Comal County officials to let them know what you think about their hospitality.

Note: To view an additional eight photos of this outing, click here to link to my Flickr page, then click on "Slideshow."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Guadalupe River

While the Saturday Paddlers used the Monday holiday to run a stretch up near Waring, five us decided we were ready for something involving a little more adrenalin. Or perhaps we wanted to live up to the name of this blog. Anyway, with the gauges showing there was more water downstream from the recent rains, we chose the FM 311 to Rebecca Creek Road section of the Guadalupe River. According to the Spring Branch gauge, the river was running a little over 450 cfs. The five hardy paddlers were Joan, Julie, Mike, Robert, and me.

After I dropped off my van and trailer at the take-out, and after a short delay due to confusion about on which side of the bridge I would be parked, Joan picked me and my boat up and drove us to the FM 311 bridge. The others were waiting for us there.

Note: Left click on any photo to enlarge. Use back arrow to return.

Thanks to Robert for all of the photos. I had decided to use the shortest boat in my stable, a Dagger Mamba 8.5, and so did not bring my camera along. The photo above shows me sneaking around some downed timber to get to the drop on river right at Mueller Falls. Mike and Julie, who like Joan and Robert took the swift channel to the left of the island, are seen surfing in the background. They had gone ahead and were able to verify that my path was not blocked by any debris not visible from above.

I showed off the latest style - protecting my head from both the sun and the rocks. Definitely dorky.

We stopped just below one of the rapids for lunch. Robert's photo caught me in the act of serving the frozen margaritas. Perhaps I should have waited until after Rust Falls to drink mine.

While the others scouted at Rust Falls, I went ahead and ran it on far river right. There usually isn't enough water on that side. I made it through successfully, and then returned for another go.

Julie and Mike took the usual route on river left, avoiding the main falls.

Joan did the same.

I decided to return back upstream and run the horseshoe section of the main falls, something I had successfully done a couple of other times at lower water. I first acted as the safety as Robert successfully ran the drop. Julie then positioned herself between the trees just below the drop with my throw bag, and Mike waited below. Unfortunately, I gave everyone the show they had been waiting for. Trying to avoid the water crashing in from my right, I hit the drop just a little too far to river left. This meant I ran into the submerged roots of the large cypress guarding the entrance. Since the roots were sloped, my boat rolled over onto its right side and I ended up upside down at the bottom of the falls. Boat, paddle, and one sandal continued on downstream as I grabbed the rescue rope thrown by Julie. No damage done - unless you count my pride.

Despite my mishap, it was a good run and we all had fun. Thanks again to Robert for providing all of the photos. Sorry we didn't get one of him to prove that he was really there.