Skip to main content
  The Houston Canoe Club
Share our Joy of Paddling!

P.O. Box 925516
Houston, Texas

The Houston Canoe Club 

is a Paddle America Club

Link to ACA

Add Me To Your Mailing List
HomeNL-2013-01 Brazos River

Brazos River Overnighter
December 1-2, 2012
by John Rich


  Location map   Aerial view
On the weekend of December 1-2, John Rich, Charles Zipprian and Charles' son Matthew, undertook another trip on the Brazos River west of Houston.  Charles' other son, Daniel, was supposed to join us also, but he had a job team-building event to attend.  However, on his drive to that event he found out it was cancelled, and then it was too late for him to join us on the river.  Not very good team building!  So he missed not only the work event, but also the river trip.  Bummer.   
Water gauge  
The chosen stretch of river this time was from I-10 to FM-1093 near Simonton, a distance of about 15 miles.  The purpose was to get outdoors in the beautiful weather, go slow and easy, and spend time walking the gravel bars looking for fossils. The water level was low, which is good for fossil hunting as plenty of sandbars are exposed, and even when low, there's always still enough for canoe passage.  There are no rapids on this stretch.  I had paddled this section once before as a day trip, which was a bit long.  So this time we made it an overnighter, with about 9-miles paddled the first day, an overnight campout on a sand bar, and then finished with 6 miles on Sunday.  The temperatures were perfect, like Goldilocks' porridge - not too hot during the day, and not too cold at night.
The I-10 put-in is not too bad, as the Brazos goes, and since it's downhill it's fairly easy.  Gear was dropped off, Matthew left behind to guard it, and both vehicles driven to the FM-1093 take-out bridge.  Charles' truck was left there, and Charles and John returned to I-10 in John's truck.  Both trucks were left under their respective public bridges while we were on the water, and no harm befell them.
The canoe trip started out early on an excellent note when a pair of bald eagles was spotted perched together in a tree.  They then took flight and flew in lazy circles together over our heads for many minutes before their meandering circles slowly drifted away with the wind.  What a magnificent sight!
We stopped at gravel bars and spent quite a bit of walking time searching for fossils.  Petrified wood was aplenty, but petrified bones were scarce, and the elusive mastadon tusks escaped once again.  John filled half of a five-gallon bucket with petrified wood, about 40 lbs. worth.  There were two spots which contained petrified wood in abundance.

I-10 put-in   Eagle   Petrified wood   River scene   Charles under bluffs

Charles provided lunch with freshly cooked hot dogs on a small grill, complete with condiments and dessert.  Matthew fished while the grill was warming up, and reeled in a catfish.

The riverbanks are sometimes lined with junk that land owners throw over the riverbank to try and prevent erosion.  This includes things like large chunks of concrete, old tires and junk cars.  The threat from erosion is very real, as there were several locations where riverside cabins were falling into the river from atop the riverbank.  At one location there were even large chunks of asphalt roadway, complete with center yellow stripes, falling down the riverbank.  The road was re-paved further away from the riverbank. 

Snags ahead!   Lunch dogs   Matthew with fish   Junk truck   Road debris


Dead cow in snag   Left, middle or right?   Stratified layers   Heron tracks

A nice sandbar was located mid-afternoon for camping, with clean sand, grass and firewood.  The only drawback was a few cow patties, easily cleaned up with a canoe paddle as a shovel.  Matthew fished, catching nothing this time.  Charles cooked a dinner of frito pie, and the key lime pie that was meant for four paddlers, had to be eaten by just three!  Daniel's missed trip misfortune resulted in extra portions for the rest of us.  Charles went minimalist and left his tent behind, sleeping on a tarp on the grass.  The next morning the dew was thick and my rain-fly was soaked, which attracted hundreds of tiny snails which emerged from the ground and climbed up the nylon for the moisture.  I spent quite a bit of time brushing them all off before rolling up my tent.

Overnight stop   Home sweet tent   Charles & Matthew   Frito pie dinner   Campfire

Charles sleeps   Fishing in fog   Morning fog   Snail on tent

Since we only had six miles to cover the second day, we slept-in late, and had a lazy morning breakfast by Charles of scrambled eggs and sausage.  We then packed our boats, doused the campfire and covered it with sand, and pushed off once again into the river.

The take-out at FM-1093 is a high bank, but not too bad.  The waterline disembarking spot is easy, and after that it's only a slightly steep slope on hard-pack dirt.  All three boats were loaded in the bed of Charles' pickup truck, and John was driven back to his vehicle at I-10.  John's boat was transferred to his truck, and then all departed with another fine Brazos adventure in their memories.

River distance: about 15 miles.  Time on the river: 2 days.  Getting away from it all: priceless.

John Rich