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!


  1. I love the yoga pose in the river. Y'all should send that hammock company all of your blog posts that make mention of their product. Maybe they'll start to send you their products in the future for free to review/endorse.

  2. Fun! We had a busy weekend, but not very adventurous - a wedding on Saturday, cleaning and a movie night on Sunday. There were lots of video games, too. :)

  3. That looks amazing! I love water. And I think it's funny that the river runs through/next to people's backyards!
    This weekend I baked bread and cooked yummy vegetarian meals. But today I made your garlicky hummus - and well, you weren't exaggerating when you named it 'garlicky'! We both liked it, but the boyfriend said it was missing the tahini. But I absolutely loved it, and I'm bringing some into work tomorrow for lunch :)

  4. I've been wanting to do that section of river for some time. Not exactly the route you did (I assume you went from Highway 21 to Highway 7?), but rather I want to do the loop paddle through Big Slough Wilderness. I will have to wait until the water is high enough to paddle upriver through the slough, however. Spring break trip, anyone?

  5. Oddly enough that looks very similar to the river and canoe scenery we have here in Indiana. We've been so busy lately that we haven't camped once this good for you.

  6. Canoeing is one of my all time favorite things to do and one of the things I rarely manage to find time for. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  7. Very cool; I'll keep this in mind for our next camping trip. We were in Possum Kingdom State Park in West Texas this weekend. We had more than a little rain and it got into all the tents but it was still fun. What brand of hammocks do you guys use?

  8. Thanks for sharing your weekends, everyone! I love hearing how other people spend their free time. Makes me look forward to the next weekend even more. :)

    As for specific questions...

    @Nate - We actually put in at Highway 69 and took out at 225 or 252 or some combination of 2's and 5's (I think). I think I would like to do a longer stretch next time, but spread it out over three or four days. 14 miles in one day was a bit much.

    @JennM - We have Hennessy Hammocks (no relation, but just as awesome!). We really love them - no complaints at all as far as comfort goes! The only issue is making sure your campsite has good trees, at a good distance apart. Other than that, I highly recommend them!

  9. What gorgeous pictures! I haven't been camping in so long, but it sure is a fun activity. Your weekend sounds lovely.

  10. PS to Sara - I am crazy for garlic and use far too much of it in everything! Sometimes the kitchen makes my boyfriend's eyes water. Oops! Glad you liked the recipe though!

    @Tina - Thank you! It was a lovely weekend. :)