Over the summer, under normal conditions, the Brazos River Authority lets a certain amount of water run out of the dam. I’ve not monitored the usual amounts, but have been watching it for a month or so. They have been letting 75 cubic feet/second out consistently, and 16 cfs out of Lake Granbury the next lake downstream. Since Granbury levels stay constant, there must be a lot of water lost to evaporation.
75 cfs plus whatever comes in from the creeks, keeps the waster running over the rapids, so we didn’t really ever have drag our kayaks over the rocks or sand, except for two spots where we misjudged sandbars, and a couple of places we had to straddle, lift ourselves, and scoot a little to get over the rocks.
Before we even got to the Ioni Creek rapids, we encountered a couple of smaller rapids that you had to thread through in order to not get beached or hit the sides. One of these threw Rachel into a dead, overhanging tree so that she capsized. I was coming up behind her and was able to paddle hard towards the middle to avoid it. She yelled at me to get her stuff instead of helping her with her kayak. So I passed her as she fell again chasing her boat, then I caught her oar, then her hat as it was sinking, and found her water bottle further down, which had enough air in it keep it visible and floating. She got herself sorted on the inside sand bar as I paddled back to her. She had a little scrape and a probable bruise on her shin, but that seemed to be all. She thought the only thing she lost, since the life vest and her insulated lunch bag were battened down, was her long sleeve shirt that she no longer had needed. Then I saw a dark spot under the water close to her which turned out to be her shirt snagged on a rock. She said she wanted to keep going, so we did.
When we got close enough to hear the rapids and see that the next water level was noticeably lower than before the rapids, I asked her if she thought she could make it 13 more miles because I didn’t think we could pull the boats back up the rapids with the water pushing us back. We were averaging 2.3 miles per hour according to my Gaia GPS, which works with no cell reception, but does drain the battery probably a little too quickly to make it 20 miles while recording. There is a way to download the map and work in airplane mode, but I haven’t learned it yet. I suppose a lot of the battery goes to continuously updating the map. We were a little ahead of schedule for getting to Rochelle’s before the sun would set at 8:15pm.
The river gets deep enough between bends to use the pedals, and then we learned that when sand bars appeared before the bends, it always got too shallow so we had to take the pedals and the rudder out and paddle around. I kept looking at the drought conditions satellite google map to see the deepest way around the bends as there were a lot of islands that could be peninsulas that you don’t want to get stuck on the wrong side of. With the glare, it was hard to read the satellite view, but we managed. Looking back, the terrain or traffic view probably would have shown which way to go well enough, but I had been burned with that if you remember from previous posts.
Rachel was up for it, so we went through the rapids of no return. You just had to go through the V in the smooth water to get to the deepest slot, then turn sharply to the left to keep from getting turned around backwards, which Rachel eventually learned how to do. Right when we entered we saw a pontoon boat to the right that had 3 men fishing and a dog in it. Since we were getting shot through really fast, and were all caught off-guard, Rachel didn’t say anything and heard one guy say “Hey!” as he did a double take. Then I went through and said Hello, which they answered, and said, catch anything?, and barely heard him say not yet as I shot past. When I caught up to Rachel, she asked if I saw that their boat was crooked and looked stuck. I had wondered how they could make it half way up the rapid. What if they were stranded? Couldn’t three men pull out their own boat? What could 2 girls in a kayak with no cell reception do anyway? It’s hard to second guess these things.
Speaking of rapids and cell reception. Around the first little bend 1/4 mile or so down from our put in spot we encountered our first fast water. Here’s Rachel coming out of it:
When we regrouped after it, I remembered I hadn’t told George exactly what we’d decided about what to do with the car and trailer, and I knew we didn’t have reception and probably wouldn’t for the rest of the trip. I decided to go ahead and text him even though it said “no service” in case we hit a reception spot and it would automatically send, which it doesn’t. It makes me retry later. When I pushed “send”, miraculously one bar appeared and it went through! Schwew! I told him we could probably meet him at Rochelle’s 7ish if he got the car first.