Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Return to San Jacinto River

Ah, President's Day! A day to kick back and rejoice the dead white men who've made our country what it is today.

Hmmm, methinks I need a different opening...let me try that again.

Ah, President's Day! Nothing says "Hooray for Democracy" like the uber-capitalism of department store sales! Heaven forbid an American do something unpatriotic on this day. We should spend it exchanging pictures of dead presidents for goods and services! Being a proud capitalist I did my part by paying the boat launch owner at Edgewater Park in Kingwood, TX $5 to watch Red Rider while I and my band of readers paddled the San Jacinto River nineteen miles from hwy. 242 down to hwy 59.

Back in June Clark and I paddled the San Jacinto River from Conroe down to hwy 242, just north of The Woodlands, TX. It was a wonderful trip filled with beautiful scenery, deadly water moccasins, wild pigs, deer, beavers and near-deadly thunderstorms. The original plan was to go from Conroe all the way to Kingwood, TX but low flow rates on the San Jacinto forced us to drag Seeker's Fate for about a third of the trip, slowing us down too much to go the whole 35+ miles in one day (we have a tendency to set unreasonable goals for ourselves). We've been meaning to get back to the San Jac and finish the job but life keeps getting in the way.

I'd be a bit more disappointed if my life didn't rock so much. I can handle my life getting in the way, especially if great-smelling hair is involved. Uh, but I digress, which is especially bad since Misseswether and I will be celebrating our 10-year anniversery tomorrow. Can you believe she's put up with me for that long?

Hmm, still digressing.

Sadly, Clark wasn't able to join me to finish the San Jacinto, so maybe it makes sense that Seeker's Fate was also not involved. Instead the trip was made in the company I egotistically call...
Merriwether's Men!

Sidenote: women are welcome, it's just none ever ask to come along.

More and more people have been contacting me through my blog asking for advice on possible adventures in the Houston area. My natural friendliness coupled with a complete trust in the goodwill of fellow internet users lead me to inviting said contacters to join me on my adventures. This time we had six people paddling, plus a seventh TOTALLY AWESOME reader who took time out of his day to shuttle us from the landing site back to 242 but could join us on the water. How cool is that?!

It had been raining hard for the later half of last week which meant the San Jac was filled with run-off. The rain ended Saturday afternoon but even on Monday the flow rate was over 1,700cfs. Conventional wisdom states the San Jac is paddlable between 250cfs and 10,000cfs. At Monday's flowrate the river pulled us along at around 4 miles per hour without paddling. I can only imagine what 10,000cfs would be like! Well, I can only imagine until I actually try it...

It's nineteen miles from 242 down to Edgewater Park, just past hwy. 59, so we could have made the trip in about four hours if we paddled hard, but why the hell would we want to do that? It was an absolutely perfect day on the river. As it was, we put in at 9:50am and finished at 4pm on the dot. During that time we meandered, explored, fished (but didn't catch anything), ate, and B.S.-ed our way down the river. The San Jacinto has the reputation of being a dull, boring paddle but I can't understand why. It was beautiful that day.

Where it started.

Laumch site. (sidenote:the rum I'm currently drinking seems to be kicking in)

San Jacinto at 1,700cfs.

Me in a borrowed kayak, plus a bit of Fuzzy Buster's thumb.

The rest of Fuzzy Buster.

Manly men in manly plastic boats (and one fiberglass canoe).

Not Seeker's Fate.

Maybe it's the rum, but we looking friggin cool...

Shomtimes we're closes othertimes far apart

Totally cool snadbar. We spent an hour picking up peices of petriefied wood the size of our fists. Better still was the...

Coyote skull.jpg
...coyote skeleton! I brought the skull, pelvis, and some leg bones howm with me. Misseswther loves me anyway.

I was using the one with the green bucket in back.Cool, my fingers are feeling all numbly. Good rum (tough day at work. I'm up to my eyeballs in projects, teaching, and trying to revamp the international shipping procedures. Note to working stiffs: if your boss comes to you with "an oppertunity" get ready to get screwed. Why the heck they have a chemist trying to build a database of what documents we need to ship equipment overseas is beyond me. Oh, wait. I'm a friggin (and currently rum-soaked) genius.

But I digress, and most egotistically I might add.

Lunch time in heaven.

Mmm, food on sticks!

Cliffs like those that trapped me during the thunderstorm.

A sign that the end is near: the old hwy. 59 bridge.

The San Jacinto generally has reputation as a boring, ugly paddle but for the life of me I don't understand why (and that's not just the rum typing). Sure, the water was brown but then so is all the other water around here. There were no deadfalls or other blockages to portage around. The gravel pits were all hidden behind thick trees or high banks. The sandbars were filled with all sorts of cool treasure, the banks were beautifully tree-lined, all sorts of tributaries begged to be explored... We didn't see much wildlife but we saw plenty of sign/tracks including a rather large alligator slide. There was no sign of humanity for long sections, not even trash.

I definately plan on running this section of river again and again, preferably as a multiday trip. There's just too much to explore there to do it quickly. The woods and tributaries along it call to me, as it did to the other Merriwether's Men. We are definately going back! Considering it's only eight minutes away from my house, i suspect I'll be back soon.

And now on to Merriwether's Tips:
1. Gary, the owner of Edgewater Park in Kingwood, TX is an awesome guy. We dropped our trucks off there before he arrived and so were unable to pay him until we landed that afternoon. He still guarded our trucks on just a note promising we'd pay him when we returned. Considering the number of trucks stolen from the free San Jacinto landing directly under hwy. 59 it's worth the $5 to park at Edgewater Park.

2. The quickest way between the 242 launch site and the take out at Edgewater Park is:
a. East on 242 to FM1314
b. Turn left (south) on to FM1314
c. Turn left (south) on to Sorters Rd.
d. Sorters Rd becomes Sorters-McClellan road which becomes McClellan Rd, just keep heading south.
e. Slow down as you pass Kingwood Community college. There's a cop hiding there.
f. Continue on McClellan Rd across hwy 59. Turn left 9south) on to 494.
g. You turn left again almost immediately on to Hamblen Rd.
h. Edgewater Park is down the dirt road on your left just before you get to the railroad tracks.

3. Kayaks are awesome, though much wetter than canoes.

4. If Lonestar-C comes to your house make him park out in the street by himself. That way when he leaves his keys in his kayak which his dad took back to Deer Park he won't be blocking other people's cars forcing them to wait almost two hours while his dad fights his way through rush-hour traffic to return said keys. Hey Lonestar, has your wife forgiven you yet for being so late?

Thus ends another of Merriwether's adventures. Damn, what an utterly perfect day (unless you were Lonestar-C or Dr. Zyme, who he trapped)!

Damn good rum tonight, too.

Adventure! Excitement! San Jacinto!


Anonymous said...

sounds like yall had a great time. wish i could have been there. next time...


Anonymous said...

i can tell the rum was kickin in. your spelling was horrendous. hahaha

kmat said...

Looks as if you guys had a great time. I'm in on the next trip. Would like to make it an overnighter also to do some exploring and charting.

Lone Star Chris said...

no, i don't think she really has... she just read the blog and said "no, we won't talk about that. I was really jealous that I didn't get to go and not happy about any of that."

and for the record...
I tried to park in the street, but SOMEBODY said I needed to pull up in the driveway. ...sorry Dr. Zyme.