Wednesday, August 17, 2005

First voyage of [Insert Name Here]: Part 2

Five minutes into the trip Clark speaks up, "We're taking in water. She's leaking around the bow seam."

Luckily it's a very slow leak, only a drop or so every minute. No worries. Being an adventurer means a small leak just makes things more exciting.

Rivers change, that's what makes them interesting. When they are low the banks and gravel bars offer up new discoveries, when the flow is high they offer a wild ride. Spring Creek was flowing half way between these two extremes as we floated along. The sounds of I-45 and Miniwether had faded away leaving only burbling water and the occasional splash of turtles launching themselves off logs. It was ten degrees cooler on the water and the current was pulling us along quicker than mosquitoes could fly. Absolute heaven in an aluminum shell!

We were in no hurry so I just steered [How about Discovery?] rather than any active paddling. This allowed us to suprise great blue herons, white egrets and large snapping turtles as we slipped silently around each curve. Sometimes being an adventurer means life is great.

On an earlier trip Clark and I had noticed a medium-sized tributary emptying into Spring Creek. It looked deep enough to paddle up it this time, so of course we did. We had to pass over busted-up chunks of concrete to get into this tributary but [Maybe Dawn Treader?] has such a shallow draft that this was no problem. Once in this smaller stream the water became crystal clear revealing schools of medium-sized sunfish and even several small catfish. Eventually we could go no farther in the canoe, but the sound of falling water drew us forward on foot. Past a fallen tree was a large culvert and beyond that was a small pond. Awesome! Water trickled over moss-covered chunks of shattered concrete into a small pool flashing with fish. It was beautiful. It would have been a prefect spot to blow off some mortars. Unfortunately, we'd used them all up in some quicksand during an early hike in the borderlands.

Downstream from this secret side channel Spring Creek is crossed by a railroad bridge. Beneath this bridge are several rows of wood pilings which supported the original steam-train bridge. In the past we had portaged around this barrier, but this time the water was flowing high enough and fast enough to risk running through a small slot we had spotted. Paddling furiously we charged this small gap through the bubbling, frothing water. With barely and inch on either side [Voyager? No, too geeky after that damned Star Trek show] shot through as Clark and I whooped and yelled with the thrill. It wasn't much as far as whitewater goes, but when you're an adventurer in Houston you take what you can get.

A twisty mile farther downstream is a giant, sandy beach easily the size of a football field. As we rounded the corner to this beach we came upon a view straight out of The Road Warrior. Parked on the shore were two guys sitting in what appeared to be a steel-tube cage mounted on giant tires with a massive engine in front and a equally large radio in the back. These guys rocked! We pulled up and talked to them for a while. Their creation started life as '76 Chevy Blazer but over the years many nights of beer-fueled welding had converted it into the coolest mud-runner in the Houston area. They were very proud of their beast and enjoyed telling us about *every*square*inch* of it.

You never know what you'll see in the borderlands.

To be concluded...

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