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HomeNL-2017-12 Buffalo Bayou

Buffalo Bayou
Hershey to Waugh

October 8, 2017
by Kent Walters

 Trip At-A-Glance
 Date:  8-Oct-17
 Put-In:  Terry Hershey Park Bike & Hike Trail
 (Beltway 8 @ Buffalo Bayou)
 Take-Out:  Footbridge (RL) after Waugh St Bridge
 (just past AIG building)
 Gage (ID):  9.48' (Shepherd)
 Discharge/Flow (CFS):  2820
 Temperature:  82-88
 Precipitation:  Partial cloud - no rain
 Wind:  Negligible
 Coordinator:  Kent Walters
 Participants:  4 (David Portz, Amy McGee, Duane Hecklesberg, Kent Walters) 
 Canoes:  0
 Kayaks:  4
 Miles:  Individual: 17.5; addition to Club mileage: 70

We met as planned, at the Terry Hershey Park Bike & Hike Trail on Beltway 8 at 9:00 AM. We assessed the put-in and the flow, and decided it looked similar to rivers we had paddled, so we would do it. We ran the shuttle, and found that the planned take-out at the Hogg Bird Sanctuary was fenced off due to Harvey flood damage. We decided to try Shepherd. It was no good. We drove along Memorial until we came to a pull-out, and scoped out a great take-out at the footbridge just after the Waugh Street Bridge and AIG building (good landmarks). Congratulating ourselves on a successful restructure, David and I returned to the put-in, where Amy and Duane we beginning to wonder if we had stopped for breakfast or something.

I left my camera/phone/GPS in the truck at the take-out, so we reorganized the responsibilities. Amy took over the GPS tracking, and David took on the photographer duties. We finally got our boats wet at 10:50.

We enjoyed a very nice push from the current, which we estimate gave us a fairly steady 2-3 MPH boost. We dodged around the normal obstructions (lots of downed trees), but nothing very significant. We saw the usual Great Blue Herons and kingfishers, and flocks of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets. A couple of Green Herons also made an appearance.

We noticed a lot of undercut banks and erosion, and of course a high water mark way up in the trees. We saw lots of structures with undermined foundations, including 4x4s hanging in open air above the ground, and a very substantial retaining wall of reinforced concrete columns laying sideways.

We passed by a really noisy airboat that was tied off to a downed tree when we finally pulled up next to it. We thought might be county people clearing obstructions in the bayou, but we’re not sure what they were actually doing.

We paddled up a quiet little side channel and enjoyed a very peaceful lunch in our boats under the shade of many trees. As we left this spot, three gar (I think they were gar) roiled and slapped the surface of the water.

Buffalo Bayou definitely took on all of the characteristics of a river. One thing was a little different from other Texas rivers. In some sections of the bayou, there were hidden currents that would push your boat about 5 feet sideways quite forcefully – almost like turbulence in a plane. It was a little unnerving.

We found our take-out easily at around 4:00 PM – a little later than planned because of the extra “reorganized” mileage and the organizer’s lousy estimating skills. I guess I can claim the same accuracy as the weather people. I said the route would be 12+ miles, and it ended up at 17.5 miles, so technically I was spot-on.

We loaded up the kayaks on the truck, and drove back to the put-in, where we resorted the kayaks and gear and said goodbye, feeling rejuvenated by our time on the water.

Where we went:

Put-in: Terry Hershey Park:

Take-out: Hogg Bird Sanctuary (the plan):

Take-out: Footbridge between Waugh and Montrose (actual):

Difference between plan and actual:


The author, Kent Walters