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HomeNL-2011-09 San Marcos
The Sunday/Monday Trip on the San Marcos River
Aug. 7-8, 2011
by Christy Long

Water: 100 cfs, USGS 08170500
Air temps: 103 high, 76 low
Distance: Three miles, Pecan Park to Sculls Crossing

Photos: John Rich and Christy Long

Pecan Park to Sculls Crossing
In April, my brother, Brent, asked if I would take him paddling. He lives in southern Louisiana with little access to moving water. I said "sure", planned a campout for the San Marcos River, and invited a few friends to enjoy the river with us. Sunday and Monday met our schedule and I hoped this period would be agreeable to the other paddlers. Louis Aulbach said, “The Sunday/Monday schedule worked really well for the summer when Tom's campground is usually full. People were packing up to leave when we arrived on Sunday morning and we had the campground virtually to ourselves Sunday night. A good way to do it.

Little did I know that by August, we would have 100-plus temperatures and be in the middle of a drought; but eighteen people showed up for the Sunday portion of the trip that is known as the Sunday/Monday trip.

On Sunday we launched around 11:30. There were eighteen paddlers and eighteen boats. The 10 kayaks included sit-on-tops, sit-ins, inflatables, and those with skirts. The eight canoes included two C1s. What a crew!

Group photo 
Left to right, back row: Jason Fry, Howard Payne, Ken Bernard, Tim Garber, Harmon Everett, Dan Carroll, Louis Aulbach.  Middle Row: Billy Welborn, Joe Coker, Rheda Boardman, Debbie Snow, Calvin Doody.  Kneeling: Christy Long, Matt Dumas, Karen Geiger, Lois Wright, John Rich, Brent Smith.

The goal was to make the three mile run last until 3 o’clock. “The gauge at San Marcos was showing 102 cfs on Saturday. Although it was dropping a bit for Sunday and Monday, the water level was just fine for practicing moving water techniques”, said Louis Aulbach.

Brent paddled my Mad River Rampage and did OK but he could tell he was having more trouble keeping it straight than the rest of us. As he paddled by, the boaters gave advice and offered to let him try their boat. He really liked Lois’s new Mohawk Solo 13 and thought Ken's kayak tracked better than the Rampage. Then he tried Howard’s Ocean Kayak Frenzy and he took off. He started paddling and did not stop. He reminded me of the Energizer Bunny. We played at all the rapids, swam when we could, and took our time getting down the river.

We were floating toward Cottonseed rapid when Dan told me: “Brent was the first one of our group to run Cottonseed and he was paddling so fast that he was probably in Martindale by now.” I was little worried so quickly paddled to see the damage but Brent was at the bottom of Cottonseed waiting in an eddy with a big grin on his face.

After we got off the water and said our goodbyes to Calvin, Karen, Matt, Jason, Harmon, Ken and Howard, we headed to Three Dudes Winery. This is the winery just downstream of Tom Goynes’ Pecan Park River Retreat. We sat on the back pavilion overlooking the river. Lois noted, “The water was amazingly cool... drinking wine overlooking the river was cool too!"

Back pavilion at
Three Dudes Winery

From left: Back row: Billy, Brent, and Tim. Middle row: Lois, Debbie, Christy, Louis, and Joe. Front row: Paul, John, Rheda, and Dan.

At the winery, we lost seven kayakers but gained one canoeist. Paul met us at Three Dudes to hear about our day and to tell us about the HCC trip at Huntsville State Park. He was at the other HCC event held in Huntsville; Mary had a good turnout for that event. On that same note, Tim also attended the Huntsville event.

After a bottle of wine, cheese, and crackers, we said goodbye to Rheda, Dan, and Debbie.

Tim’s burn ban work-
around: orange
Halloween lights.
From left: Lois, John,
Brent, Paul 

When we returned to camp, it was still too hot to cook so we went swimming until the sun went below the western tree line. That evening after we cooked, ate, and cleaned up Tim had a campfire. See picture below for Tim Berber’s work-around to the burn ban. He says, “Burn Ban…! I spit on Burn BAN!”. It was a great "fire" and we actually tended it.

 John’s Tent with
 creature comforts.
There were at least seven fans going that night and no one used a rain fly. I have never seen so many extension cords in a campsite.

Sunday, nine of us paddled. Brent paddled my Jackson Hero and did well but the Frenzy was still at the top of his list. We launched at 9 o’clock and were at Sculls by 11:30. By the time we got to Cottonseed rapid, Billy had Brent catching eddies and ferrying. He caught the river-right eddy just upstream of the wall at Cottonseed and then caught the river-left eddy behind the wall. Billy had him ferry back and forth at the top rapid of Cottonseed.

On our return trip home we stopped at Bass Pro Shop to let Brent look at kayaks. I think he is hooked on paddling.

The following pictures combine our two days of paddling to show the sequence of rapids.

Debbie Snow, Jason Fry,
Dan Carroll, and Matt
Dumas surfing at
entrance rapid to Old Mill.

  Dan Carroll (Left) and
 Joe Coker having just
run Old Mill Rapid.

  Louis Aulbach,
just after the wall.

Debbie Snow taking
 a break from
surfing at the wall.
  Harmon Everett (left) in
the K1 and Matt Dumas in
the C1 avoiding the strainer
on river left that looked so
benign, but we all stayed
way to river right.
  Debbie, Louis, and
Billy having lunch
in the shade.

Dan Carroll making an
attainment maneuver at
the lunch spot rapid.
  Louis getting his feet wet.
We stopped in shady spots
along the way and swam.
This is just downstream
of the lunch spot. All the
boats and people in this
photo are in our group.
  Christy coming through
S-turn, with Billy surfing
and Tim lining-up
for his run.

Tim running his
line at S-turn.
  Tubers at Cottonseed

  Joe at Wall
at Cottonseed

Tubers: Something you do not see too often, is tubers at Cottonseed because most of them get out at Don’s Fishcamp. This was taken after we helped them save their ice chest of beer.

Billy and Brent at River
Right Eddy just above
the Wall at Cottonseed
  Billy catching the River
Left Eddy at Cottonseed
  Brent ferrying back and
forth which turned into

Paul at bottom of
Cottonseed demonstrating
the power of a low brace.
Not a drop of water in
the boat.
  Tim, downstream
from Cottonseed
  New drop off.

New drop off: Louis noted; “The new take out at Sculls provides good parking for loading, but the access on river left still needs work to make it a good take out." As a result, we took out on river right, above the bridge. Although we crossed Mr. Scull's property, he has not fenced it or posted signs against trespass (at least for now).

The author,
Christy Long