Because of the impossibly perfect overcast, cool breezy day in August, with a high in the upper 70’s, Rachel and I decided to take the plunge into the upper Brazos while keeping our exit options as open as possible.   We packed sunscreen, straw hats, toilet paper, 4 frozen water bottles, Rachel’s 32oz water bottle, 4 small Gator-aids, a large Arizona Arnold Palmer can, leftover pizza, half a turkey sandwich, 2 protein bars, a sandwich bag of Dill Pickle Chips, a banana, and a Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar for her and a Snickers for me, our cellphones, 1 waterproof cellphone bag, and my un-waterproof purse with my electronic remote car key fob.

The closest boat ramp to the advertised most scenic part of all the Brazos is the Hwy 16 ramp, one mile downstream from the Possum Kingdom Lake dam. The next boat ramp is 20 miles downstream where the Brazos crosses Hwy 4 at Rochelle’s Canoe and Kayak Rental and Shuttle Service. They and other writers recommend you take the trip over two days and camp primitively in the middle. With our Hobie kayak Mirage Drives, we average 2.5mph with stops, so I figured we could easily make the whole trip in 10 hours, if the post dam river was deep enough to use them. The drives stick a little over a foot down in the water. I’d read about the Ioni Creek inlet rapids that are considered class 1 and suitable for everyone. No one wrote about the Hwy 4 rapids, except this Texas Parks and Wildlife description, ” A couple of good rapids, one located beneath the FM 4 bridge, are found on this section during high water”, which I’d forgotten. So I thought we probably could make it in a day. Some people recommend for day trips to turn around just before the Ioni Creek rapids 7 miles down. To keep this option open, I decided to leave the car at the Hwy 16 bridge in case we wanted to turn around. It is recommended you don’t leave your vehicle there overnight because of the meth heads. I hoped and thought we could make it all the way to the Hwy 4 bridge, in which case we could have arranged with Rochelle’s beforehand to pick up our car and trailer so it would be waiting for us even if it were after hours. They close at 5pm. If they stayed open till 8pm we could have left the car where we put in and had them shuttle us back to it at the end of our trip. Or if there had been cell service on the river, which I knew there wouldn’t be as it is very remote, which makes it more beautiful, I could have asked them half way down to get our car for us, but I would have had to arrange for them to have a key. If they had the key, I wouldn’t have been able to turn around if things were too dicey, since I didn’t ask George for his. So I decided not to contact them, and to have George meet us at Rochelles in the evening. Except I forgot to tell him of this eventuality and only gave him a vague description of our possibilities without specifically asking him.

Nevertheless, at 10 am, even after getting up at 7, we put in at the very steep ramp under the historic “18 span stone arch bridge built in 1942 by the Works Progress Administration”.

 Immediately downstream from the ramp you start heading into the beautiful Palo Pinto Mountains.

palo pinto 2

(click for more detail)

Around here a 500 foot elevation from where you’re standing is a mountain. (tbc)