Down Time: Down the River

Some Trails Across Texas crew members on a trip down the Colorado… We put in at the bridge on FM 969, and ended at Vernon L Richards Riverbend Park in Smithville. All in all, the trip was approximately 40 miles and took us 3 days to complete. We saw much wildlife along the way, and had the river entirely to ourselves. Huge turtles, carp, pike, and catfish swam beneath us on our journey, and blue herons flew ahead of us, showing us the way.

The weather was sunny and perfect during the day and only mildly chilly at night and in the early mornings. We packed light (but ate well!), and all three of us used a single canoe, with a beach chair in the middle for easier rowing. The first night, we stayed in Bastrop on an elderly fisherman’s sandbar. It was getting dark when we spotted him, and when we asked if he knew of a good place to camp, he waved us over. That night we ventured into town and found a local joint with karaoke music. What a blast!

We didn’t encounter any rapids along the way, only a few areas with swifter moving water and concealed rocks. It took us awhile to get the hang of steering, and at first, we were zigzagging back and forth across the river. Once we figured it out however, things were literally smooth sailing.

On our second day, we stopped at the Lost Pines Nature Trail Park for lunch. The area next to the river was very cool, complete with rope swing, secluded picnic tables, and grills. We continued on, and spent the night on a small island somewhere between the two parks. There was a perfect debris-free sandy area right in the middle of the island, large enough for our tent, cooking, and a small campfire. We were lulled to sleep by the sound of the river rushing past nearby.

It was difficult to know where exactly we were on the river at any given time, and we relied on people we saw on the banks to give us our location.
We arrived at our destination (where we had left a car) around 11:30 on the third day, packed up, ate the remainder of our food for lunch, there in the park, and made the short drive back to Austin.

All in all, it was a great trip! Our gear didn’t get too wet, there were no bugs, we found places to stay, the river was peaceful, and the company was great. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone with a few days to spare (you could do it with a single night camping, but we didn’t start out until early afternoon on the first day).


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