We had a nice paddle Sunday (12/13) on the Blanco River. It was a beautiful Hill Country day.
When I got up and started messing with the canoe at 7:00, there was frost on the car windshield. But by the time we got on the river at 10:00, it had become a warm spring-like day. Our trip was from the Valley View Road low water bridge to the Fischer Store bridge, a distance of five miles.
I teamed up with my ol' paddling buddy Trey Berndt in our 16 foot tandem Mohawk. We had called Lee Deviney on Saturday because we knew he couldn't pass up a chance to get on the Blanco. He and his friend Mike McClabb from Martindale went in Lee's 16 foot Mohawk Nova.
The surprise of the day was this:
Lee Deviney can go slow! Believe me, folks, I'm not making this up! Lee, the president of the Texas Canoe Racing Association and an avid (rabid?) canoe racer, was last seen slowly dipping paddles down the clear beautiful Blanco beneath the overhanging cypress trees.
This trip was a good reminder that you don't need an exhilarating current and big challenges to have a great day on the water. It was very enjoyable to paddle through the beautiful scenery and quiet rapids.
The river was running at 487 cfs on the Wimberley gauge, an adequate level that some would consider minimal. Right after putting in at Valley View Road, the river flows through an area of many big rocks and a few trees which forms a good rapid at higher levels. We had to line through the upper part of the rapid, and then at the lower end the most of the flow goes to the right through a tight squeeze just before a large rock. At this level, this route was not runnable because there is a medium rock in the middle of the flow. We took the route to the left through a small space between a couple of large rocks. This area was not a real problem because the flow was not very strong. But at high levels, this is a must-scout rapid!
Just a short distance downstream, the river drops over a small waterfall below which most of the flow deflects off an undercut rock on the left. Lee and Mike ran this through the only possible line, which is to start from the middle, working your way through a small slot over the falls and just to the right of the rock. Trey and I decided that this thrill was not worth the possible early morning swim, and lined and then carried through.
After these two rapids, there are a number of fun rapids with quick little turns. One rapid has a turn to the right followed by a nice fast ride along the cliffs on the right. Another one which is formed at an old broken dam makes a big loop to the right and then left along a line of strangely eroded cliffs.
We finished at around 12:30, having had a thoroughly enjoyable, relaxing, and stress-reducing trip.
Trey and I were getting ready to leave the take-out, when an old Chevy panel truck drove by, stopped, and backed up to where we were. It was Wendall Lyons (Bigfoot Canoes), who was taking a back roads trip in to Austin. We enjoyed "shooting the breeze" (my grandfather's expression) with him before he went on his way.
As we were leaving the area, we were able to pick up the radio station that I always listen to in the Hill Country, KFAN*, and we heard some very good Texas music from Michael Murphy, Doug Sahm, and Willie Nelson. Michael Murphy was telling us that
"Lone Star sippers and skinny dippers and steel guitar stars
are twice as good as Hollywood and those boogie-woogie bars."
It was a fitting way to end a great day on the Blanco.
Note: If you come to this area, it is very advisable not to park anywhere on Valley View Road. The local property owners have been having vehicles towed, although there are no warnings posted except at the entrance to the property owners' park.