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HomeNL-2009-04 Buffalo Bayou

Buffalo Bayou
March 16, 2009
by John Rich

On Monday, March 16th, Houston Canoe Club paddlers were rallied together by Donna Grimes for a photo opportunity in front of the TV camera at Buffalo Bayou in Houston. The meeting place was Briar Bend Park, a small neighborhood park near the vicinity of Voss and Woodway.

   Bob Arthur talks on camera

The media occasion was a KPRC Channel 2 news story about Buffalo Bayou and the associated canoe trail, which when completed, will be the longest canoe trail in Texas, running 26 miles from Highway 6 to downtown Houston. First up for an interview in front of the TV camera with reporter Jennifer Reyna was Bruce Heiberg, of the Buffalo Bayou Preservation Association, followed by HCC’s own Bob Arthur.

Group photo   

The HCC paddlers pose for a group photo. From left to right: Ken Anderson, Louis Aulbach, Fraser Baker, Linda Gorski, Bill Grimes, Donna Grimes, Harmon Everett, Tom Loesch, Cliff Peery, Marilyn Peery, John Rich and Jacqueline Webster.

Tom Loesch is smiling and ready to go, while Cliff looks serious with his face mask:


Tom Loesch      Cliff Peery

   Carrying canoes

Next up was the task of carrying the canoes down the zig-zag steps of the steep slope to the water's edge. Here, Donna and Marilyn muscle their tandem boat down the stairs, while Cliff brings up the rear.

With boats at the waterline, everyone stepped aboard, pushed off, and then paddled upstream to a hiding spot around the bend. When the TV camera was ready, a holler was made, and we emerged from hiding and paraded in a long line for the camera. John Rich's boat also featured TV news reporter Jennifer Reyna. We pulled back up to the launch point, Jennifer stepped out of the boat and did a "stand up" - a short speech for the camera, with HCC paddlers clustered together in the background.


John paddles with Jennifer       HCC paddlers in background

After the videoing was complete, the Houston Canoe Club members pushed off again and headed downstream for some quiet time alone.

The Channel 2 TV video segment can be viewed online here:
"Buffalo Bayou Offers Its Own Beauty"

Click the thumbnail image of the map below to see the section of Buffalo Bayou that was paddled, as highlighted in blue.

The current was strong due to recent rains and pushed us along at a nice rate, without having
to work hard to paddle. There were almost no obstacles along the way, and even a few fun riffles. Someone has done a tremendous job of clearing the way by chain-sawing the trees that have fallen across the bayou. The next two images below are the water flow rate and water depth charts, for reference to conditions:


Map      Flow rate      Water depth

We paddled about 4½ miles down Buffalo Bayou among large beautiful homes, and it was very quiet except for when we passed under the few bridges, where traffic could be heard. There were a few ducks and herons to be seen, and even a snake.  Some sections of the bayou looked like wilderness...


Cliff, Ken & Harmon      Jacqueline & John      Cliff in the "wild"

Large, luxurious homes    

...While other sections provided reminders that you’re in the heart of a large city, and the entertainment of marveling at the large, luxurious homes and manicured lawns.

About two hours after we started, we arrived at the take-out point at the Woodway bridge, near the 610 West Loop. You had your choice of climbing over large chunks of concrete underneath the bridge, or a bank beside the bridge that was half-sand and half-mud. Most chose the sand-mud. The footing there was okay though, and no one slipped and took a mud bath. In the first photo below, John steadies the boat while Ken gingerly steps ashore. Our exit was watched with curiosity by a one-legged homeless man, who seems to live under the bridge like a troll.

With the boats at the top of the hill, Marilyn stayed behind to stand guard over them, so that Donna, in her pre-positioned truck, could ferry everyone back to the starting point to pick up their vehicles. Then all we had to do was drive back to the take-out point, load up and go home with a smile on our faces.

Slippery footing     Carrying boats uphill     Boats at top of hill


It was a very pleasant few hours on the water, with great company, and it sure beat the heck out of working on Monday. I highly recommend it whenever possible.

Thanks to Donna Grimes for organizing the paddlers for this get-together.


Donna Grimes

On April 16th at 10:30, again at Briar Bend Park, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held for the canoe trail. Attending will be the Bayou Preservation Association, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Houston Mayor Bill White, Houston Parks & Recreation Department, and other assorted dignitaries. How about you?

The author, John Rich