Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday Paddlers - San Antonio River - Saspamco Paddling Trail

After a scouting trip four weeks earlier to check out the access points, the Saturday Paddlers ventured for the first time onto the recently-opened Saspamco Paddling Trail. This stretch of the San Antonio River runs from Loop 1604 in southern Bexar County to FM 775 in northern Wilson County, a distance of about 12 miles. The origin of the trail's name is not particularly inviting. It takes its name from the nearby community, whose name is the acronym for the San Antonio Sewer Pipe Manufacturing Company. This company was the primary employer in the area until the 1960's. Nancy, our resident historian, recalls her family thinking that they had finally left San Antonio when they passed through the small town on trips to the coast. I think they were traveling by motorized vehicle, but can't be sure.

Note: Left click on any photo to enlarge.

According to the Elmendorf gauge, the river was running at about 120 cfs when we launched around 11:30 from the San Antonio River Authority park at Loop 1604 and at about 80 cfs when we reached the take-out at SARA's Helton - San Antonio River Nature Park about five hours later. Our group consisted of fifteen paddlers in ten kayaks, two canoes, and Robert's new Mini Canak, which I hesitate to classify as either. The river winds back and forth throughout the twelve miles, and the photo above depicts the typical scenery.

We discovered no gravel bars along the river, and very few places to pull over and stop. Fortunately, the sandy loam of the river bank at one location provided just enough room for us to gather for lunch. Doug and Nell are shown above among the boats at our stop.

Scott, Kirk, Pamela, Alex, Nancy, a shy Joan, Joline, and Atsuko relax after lunch.

Kathy is pleased that we came across some actual rock outcroppings along the river.

Many of us were surprised by the high bluffs along the river.

Another surprise was this large snake encountered at the primitive boat ramp at the midpoint of the paddling trail, where the river passes under Gillette Road (CR 125). Atsuko had left her vehicle at the small park there, and I helped her carry her kayak up the steep hill. I must have passed within a few paces of the snake when I returned to get back in the canoe, but no one spotted the creature until we were pulling away from the bank. After trading places with Kathy, Joline was now in the bow of the canoe. Her most powerful paddling strokes of the entire day came as she urged the canoe forward and away from the snake as I was attempting to back the canoe back to the snake for more photographs.

Just another day on the river for the Saturday Paddlers.