The Medina River was running high (800 cfs), it was raining lightly, and the forecast called for scattered thunderstorms in the area and upstream. Perhaps that explains why only five paddlers showed up for the Saturday Paddlers' planned trip from Pioneer River Resort in Bandera to English Crossing. These hearty souls were Joline, Don, Bob, and Kathy and I. After we studied the gauges, looked at the weather radar, and viewed the river running over the bridge at English Crossing, our number dwindled to three. Joline and Kathy decided to help us run the shuttle and then retreat to Bandera for a nice meal.
Because of the uncertain weather and what effect it might have on the river, a decision was made to shorten the trip by launching about 3.5 miles downstream from Bandera. Bob secured permission from a local landowner to launch at his riverfront property. Our put in was about fifty yards upstream of the confluence of San Julian Creek and the river. This reduced our river mileage from about 12.4 miles to just under 9 miles.
Shortly after launching, we paddled the short distance up the creek to a dam. Here is Don heading back down the creek to where Bob is waiting for us on the Medina River.
The scenery on this part of the Medina River is varied and beautiful, bordering on the spectacular in places. Many of the limestone ridges are colored with desert varnish.
Don, using Kathy's kayak for the first time, apparently decided to go for a swim (on a few occasions).
The last time the Saturday Paddlers had been on this stretch of the Medina River was in 2007. Since that wet year, traveling down the river below the town of Bandera would, because of the drought, almost always have involved more walking than paddling. Sadly, since that year there has been more development along the river as large ranches were sold and subdivided. At least most of the development close to the river has been of fairly high quality. However, it is still discouraging to see the changes since I first floated on this part of the Medina River about forty years ago.
Rooms with a view - a house in the Bridlegate Ranch subdivision.
Bob leads the way on the swollen river.
This is an upstream view of Privilege Creek from where it empties into the Medina River. There is a condominium development up the hill to the right. A sign of "progress" marching into this once-isolated landscape?
Bob and Don pulled over while I attempted to get the blood flowing again in my legs.
Some goats, apparently bothered by our gawking, deftly clambered up to the top of the ridge from the small cave created by the overhang. If you click on the photo, you may be able to see two or three of them in the shelter.
Clear water cascades from a spring alongside the river.
A landowner has found a way to get down to the river and back up to the top of the ridge. On the cliff face just past this precarious-looking elevator are several rock climbing anchors and carabiners, perhaps used for rappelling
When we arrived at English Crossing after about two and a half hours on the river, we found Kathy and Joline waiting for us. They were apparently anxious to hear about our adventure after their longer-than-expected lunch at O.S.T. in Bandera. Joline even shared some cold onion rings with me! Despite the slight drizzle which hid the sun from us throughout our trip, it had been a good day on the river - as it almost always is.
Note: Click on any photo to enlarge. To view all fourteen photos from this outing, click here to connect to my Flickr page.