Monday, October 25, 2010

canoe camping on the neches river

This past weekend Nathan and I, along with four other friends, went on a canoe camping trip down an 18.5 mile stretch of the Neches River. The Neches is 416 miles long and runs through the heart of East Texas, passing through National Forests and - as we discovered on Sunday - many backyards, complete with folks sitting on homemade docks and casually holding rifles while shouting a friendly hello.

East Texas, I love you.

We started our adventure at 5:00am, when we drove three cars and three canoes to our put-in point, about an hour from town. We unloaded all the gear, and then half of us waited with our things while the rest of the group drove three cars to the take-out point, about a half an hour away. They left two cars behind and came back with the third. This was so that, when we arrived at the end of our journey, we could load up our gear and send two people to get the last car. Did that make any sense? At any rate, it worked perfectly.

After the cars were sorted out, it was time to get in the river and paddle. We covered about 14 miles on Saturday, and it was a perfect day for a canoe trip. The water was calm, the sun was shining, and I applied sunblock diligently all day long. Nathan and I made a pretty good team and my arms didn't hurt or get sore - probably because I've been doing push ups lately. Aw yeah. Cross training FTW!

I have to admit - I did get a little bored around 2 or 3 o'clock. We'd been paddling all day, the scenery didn't change that much, and when you're canoeing you can't exactly take a break or read a book. Luckily, my frustration was short lived and by the time we found a suitable riverbank upon which to spend the night, I had fallen in love with canoe camping for good.

After dinner, wine, and laughing around a fire, we retired to our respective tents (Nathan and I slept in our hammocks, of course). The air was warm and humid and I mostly slept on top of my sleeping back instead of inside it. Sometime in the middle of the night it started to rain, but not too hard and I stayed comfortable and dry under my rain fly.

In the morning we broke camp, ate breakfast, and then got back in our canoes for the last leg of our journey. We reached our take-out point sooner than expected - about noon. I didn't mind - my arms were starting to get tired and I was ready for a shower, a change of clothes, and a giant soy latte. All in all, it was a great trip with good company in a beautiful setting, and I can't wait to do it again. With 416 miles of river to cover, it will be a long time before we run out of river.

How about you - any adventures this weekend? Races run? Projects done? I have a hard time relaxing and it was really good for me to be in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone service and no projects or work to distract me. A great lesson in living in the moment!

PS - I'm still in 17th place! Don't forget to cast your votes!