Upon closer inspection of my maps, I guesstimated that the ramp at Hunter Park is actually 10 miles downstream from our local Tin Top ramp. Good thing we didn’t head down with the sun getting close to setting. I haven’t found a map that gives you river distances, only traffic distances or crow flying distances. I think there’s an expensive fishing map app that gives you those as well as depths.
Tuesday afternoon Rachel and I put in a bit before 5pm with 4 hours to make it to the park before dark. George agreed to pick up the trailer when he got off work and drive it to the park to pick us up. I figured we could easily average 3mph going downstream even with a head wind. And I had new little locator lights in case it got dark at the end where it would surely just get deeper and deeper as we got close to the lake so no threading the needle in the shallows.
I thought there would be houses and docks lining the way all the way to Granbury, but it was happily much more rural and hilly with the houses ending just around the first bend to the south. I had just remarked to Rachel when we were preparing our boats in the parking lot that we were the only all girl crew we’d seen. Men have always handled the traditional underwater trailer boat launching and wench retrievals. Just then a group of three college age girls put in with their pickup and motor boat. We played tortoise and the hare 3 times while they swam in spots and eventually turned back about half way down. Girl Power!
All was going beautifully until we decided to take a short cut on the last bend before heading east to the lake. On googlemaps it shoes the river is very wide at that point and does not show the island that came up at the bend. It was about 7:30 with almost an hour before sunset. We saw houses with boat docks on the inside shore and thought they must have clear sailing to the lake. So we hugged the inside shore and continued on enjoying huge flocks of Egrets, Canadian Geese, and a few ducks. Then the bushes started getting closer together on the sides. Surely there would be an outlet, so we kept going. The land to the right was not an island but a peninsula. With no way out. We didn’t discover this until a mile into the dead marshes. Rachel got stuck in a bush with the current pushing her further in and got very frustrated until she was finally able to pole her way out with the paddle. We made it back to the inlet right as the sun was setting. Worried it would get dark on us and seeing our planned restaurant closing hours looming I decided to cut in front of a dead tree as we turned back to the main course. This time I got stuck in a sand bar. My pedals were so sunk into the soft sand that I had to get out. To pull them out of the slot you have to have them pointing down, which they weren’t so it was easier just to spread them out. But my rudder was also stuck. In my frustration I forgot to uncleat the cable and wondered why I couldn’t manually get the thing up. I forced it up anyway and was afraid I’d broken it. I was able to slide the boat to the deeper water and get in before almost slipping down a drop off. Luckily Rachel was able to get my rudder back in and I discovered my cleating mistake. All was working but the sun was setting.
I told George my mistake and shared my pin location with him so he could figure when to leave and meet us at the ramp. There was one more navigation decision to make. The Gaia map shows the original course of the river before the Granbury (Cordova Bend) dam created the lake. The original river is still the deepest so you can avoid sand bars by keeping to it. But just a little further down it makes a left and then a sharp right while the hypotenuse is probably? deep enough. The huge middle of this was exposed dry land on the satellite map, but the shoreline of the hypotenuse had some water right by the docks. I figured that if we hugged the docks we could make up some time, and the water was probably high enough in the middle too. I held my satellite gps open all the way so that I could track when the danger of grounding was over. It was getting darker and darker and there were tons of old dead tree stumps sticking out of the water that we still had to avoid. Thankfully the light held out enough to get through that back to the deep water. It got dark right when we hit the ramp, where we waited 20 minutes for George to pick us up. No restaurant that night. I wasn’t really hungry anyway.
Oh yeah, the stitch story. I held it almost at bay about an hour in by eating half a banana, which I haven’t freely eaten in years, and some saltines when it first started slightly coming on. This gave me a burst of energy and took care of it. Then when that waned and the stitches started coming back again, I ate the other half which got me the rest of the way. I think bananas are the cure!
Gaia said we went 11.98 miles! Our mistake and turn around was around 2 miles, so it would have been 10.