I ran the Llano River on Thursday, 8/27 from Highway 87 to Castell. The river was running at about 3300 CFS when I put on at 12:30 p.m. I was paddling my Mohawk Probe 12.
The first mile was fairly slow going. Even though there was lots of water going down, the river is generally really wide. When the river narrowed, which happened often enough to make it interesting, the flow was pretty fast.
About a mile after the put-in, I came to a major rapid which I scouted. The rapid was formed from a large outcropping of granite which extended from both sides of the river. There were two possible routes in the center, and one on each side. I decided on the route on river right, because it looked like the most fun. I would consider this a Class III rapid.
This route consisted of a fast slide-like drop for about 40 feet that had a diagonal standing wave that went from right to left. The wave ended in a large hole at the bottom of the drop. Not having any real experience with holes, I was a little nonchalant in my approach and went right down the edge of the wave toward the hole. I'm not sure if I had room to avoid the hole on the left because there was a boulder there. Anyway, I remember looking at the hole and thinking "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to avoid these!" I approached the hole with a mixture of apprehension and admiration, and forgot to paddle hard to get through it. Mr. Hole proceeded to teach me a little Respect by turning by boat sideways and grabbing on. My downstream brace was not enough to keep me upright, and I took a swim. Luckily, the hole flushed me and my boat out right away, and there were not any downstream hazards. From this point on, hole avoidance became a much higher priority.
At about mile two (all mileages approximate) there was a long rapid formed by granite that was a solid Class III. The best route was definitely on the far left. There were a lot of drops, some real big waves, and holes everywhere. I was able to read the holes and miss the big ones. But some of the holes were unavoidable (the lesser of two evils!). I took them head-on with some power, and got through the whole long rapid with about half a boat full of water. I had to make one move across to the right side to avoid a Mama Hole (but I was okay, because I had learned Respect).
The rest of the trip consisted of some nice fast Class IIs and a nice area where the river narrows. There was one really nice sandy beach on the left that looked as good as many I've seen in the Lower Canyons.
I finished the ten to twelve miles in three hours, but paddled almost constantly because I had limited time.
This is a great high water run. A good amount of flat water, but hey, this is Texas.