Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 00:17:57 -0600

From: Randy Hohlaus <>

Subject: Colorado River Trip Report

Well, if everyone is posting their Thanksgiving trip report, I'll post one more for your edification. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, 16 AlamoCity Rivermen clubmembers and fellow travelers gathered at the Loop 230 boat ramp at Smithville for second annual ACR Turkeyttrot paddle - 36 miles and two nights under the stars to La Grange on the Colorado River. Weather outstanding, shorts and t-shirt days. Water flow was 800 cfs at Smithville, 1000 cfs at La Grange, the difference no doubt made up by the many copious and flowing creeks and springs encountered. It is enough flow to keep things moving pretty well, with just a few sandbar encounters.

Shuttle service for the drivers was generously provided by George Hohnberger, who is still willing to run shuttles although his Rivershop Livery in Bastrop has now closed. I'm afraid he might have been a little ahead of his time on this river.

After a few misadventures by yours truly in locating the ONE place in Smithville selling fishing licenses, we were off to a great trip. This time of year the river is peaking in color, with the special experience of floating through cascades of glittering leaves falling off the trees. There were many campable sandy islands passed the first day, but we paddled fairly well for the new LCRA Plum Park on the Colorado at 17 miles. We got a permit for camping even though it is still under construction. It has a nice sand beach for that purpose, and we understand that it will be a convenient future access point for this river stretch. The first night we suffered along with only fresh salad, garlic bread, and King Ranch Turkey to sustain us. Bob Heinsohn from Houston found a four inch knife/spear point on a gravel bar.

The second day float took us more than we planned, since the islands on this stretch are far more wooded and less conducive to group camping. This river is wilder and probably more lushly scenic than the river up closer to Bastrop, where you have to paddle many miles to get past the last estate lots and golf courses. At mile 22 is the river's main rapid, a long triple shelf fall with nice trains of small standing waves. There is not much human flood debris on the river, but there are snapped off trees in places.

A highlight for some of us was the bald eagle sighting. I thought it was peculiar to see that "great blue heron" far downriver actually flying TOWARD me. Grabbing the binoculars, I freaked when I saw the white head. Frantically reaching back for the camera, I cut my finger on some fitting but got off a shot as it made its high speed bombing run upriver past me at tree top level. I'll have to see if it comes out. Now that we have members with sightings on the Colorado below Columbus, we might be seeing the bald eagle truly expanding its range.

Well, after one more night on "Ship Island" with our fresh caught catfish thrown in with the shrimp etouffee and fresh baked dutch oven bread (Rivermen always have to brag on the meals), we pulled out Sunday at the excellent SH 71 boat ramp in La Grange, not having encountered more than a dozen people along the banks in three days. Despite what the LCRA River Trail guide says about the boat launch area in White Rock Park further down, don't believe it, this one is much better. A nice holiday weekend, all around.

Randy Hohlaus