Colorado River
FM 969 to Bastrop

Freeze Trip Segment

Freeze Trip 2004 was January 24-25 on the usual segment of the Colorado River, FM 969 to Bastrop. A portion of the Houston contingent had put in the afternoon of January 23, spent the night along the river, and met us at the put-in.

The weather forecast called for rain, which probably depressed turnout; we had approximately 50 participants. Rain it did, but we were lucky in its timing; our enthusiasm was not dampened, although the same could not be said for our gear. We made it to the island and set up before any significant rain fell. By the time it started raining in earnest, tarps were strung up and numerous other rain shelters appeared. No one had to stand out in the weather.

The rain threatened the coals cooking the dutch oven dinner, but hardy paddlers sitting by the dutch ovens held umbrellas. Later, we moved a cover to relieve those holding the umbrellas. The rain thoughtfully broke in time for dinner.

The temperature was generally mild, with the night time low in the mid-40's and the day time temperature in the 60's. No one suffered ill effects from the weather. The dutch oven meal was delicious as always, and the peach cobbler was about as sweet as anything I ever remember eating.

Sunday morning was bright, clear, and warm and offered ample coffee and breakfast. It was a delightful paddle back, except for those of us who had a little trouble with the sweeper at the downstream end of the island. For those of you who have not been on the trip, the current comes off of a shoal on river right and pushes you directly into the overhanging limbs of a tree at river left. My paddling partner and I, trying to avoid running aground on the shoal, which it turns out would not have been a problem, came in too close to the tree. Our "draw-right" strokes were not powerful enough to overcome the current and in retrospect were inappropriate, because the current did not graze the tree but pushed us into it. The rest of the scenario is predictable. Downstream paddlers recovered the few things that floated off, even my straw hat, so we lost only our dignity. And thus we joined that singular, if not elite, group of paddlers who have managed to swamp on the Freeze Trip.

The only other "hazard" on the trip comes at the rapid about a third of the way along on the second day’s segment. There is a well-defined downstream "V," but hidden among the standing waves at the bottom of the "V" is a large rock. The technical term for such a phenomenon is "damned rock." We hit that too but did not swamp. The boat ramp at the take out was, in comparison to prior years, remarkably free of goose droppings. That was a plus, among other reasons, in that it reduced the slip-sliding away. A good time was had by all.

Ken Bennight