Date: Sat, 05 Jun 1999 23:41:37 -0500
From: Randy Hohlaus <>
Subject: Upper Colorado Trip Report

As promised to those of you who kindly answered my query about conditions on the Colorado River above Bend, here is my trip report.

On Memorial Day weekend, 19 Alamo City Rivermen (including two Houston members and two honorary members from the Hill Country Paddlers in Kerrville), set out on a two night/ three day trip on the upper Colorado from the Highway 190 crossing down to Bend, Texas, for a grand total of 16 miles. Goal was to lay over two nights at a primo campsite, which we accomplished. Flow rate was 1000+ at the start (up from under a 100 cfs three days before due to heavy rains in the San Saba area), to 500+ at the takeout two days later. No major or interesting rapids encountered, but fairly distributed Class 1 riverwide shoal type rapids were found. The river flowed smartly, though brown with runoff, the whole way except the last four miles which were mostly long flat pools with headwind potential.

We put-in at Hwy. 190 bridge courtesy of a driver shuttle from Bear, who shuttles out of Bend. He will show you the local exotic game farms during the shuttle as an extra treat. The takeout/put-in at Flat Rock in Bend is now closed and fenced. Instead, you can leave cars, take out or put in at Lamar Morris's place at the Bend bridge, for a dollar a person a day. You can camp there, too. The Hwy 190 put-in is pretty tough and steep, by the way.

There are numerous camping legal gravel bars and islands scattered along the way, some better than others. The USGS topos are outdated in this repect, as it misses the islands at the 1/2, 4 and 10 mile points, and the island at two miles is now a gravel bar. The two small islands at Rough Creek are now one big island. As before, we had a good two night camp, in a long remote stretch that became our private lake for a day of foolin' and fishin' around in our boats. We saw no more than a half dozen other people in our three day trip. The high cliffs bounding the upper 12 miles are spectacular. Highlight was a clear cool copious flowing stream found with a wildflower surrounded terraced rock waterfall and jacuzzi pools. Kind of like those places you see on a beer can. A much returned to spot. As usual, the grand ACR dutch oven feasts were had including a knockout Indian meatloaf/lentil/basmati rice exotica by Gib Hafernick.

Wildlife observed included a couple of hawk nests in which hawklings were observed being fed by their parents, deer, and many schools of gar in the shoal rapids thrashing about. We couldn't tell if it was spawning behaviour or they were getting stuck by the falling water level, but it was quite a sight. The upper part of this river is still remote and wild, and worth the effort.

Randy Hohlaus