I often find that my favorite adventures don’t always include far away destinations or require the most expensive gear. Pushing your comfort zone by trying a new activity, exploring somewhere you haven’t been before, and sharing the experience with people you just met 48 hours before are what adventures should be made of. The 3rd Annual TX Paddle Fest hosted by the S.A. Adventure Sports group in conjunction with A Good Paddling fit all of this criteria perfectly.
I pulled up to Bergheim Campground, located less than one hour north of San Antonio, TX, at around 10:30 AM. Some people I had seen on our Facebook adventure group were there and immediately introduced themselves with a friendly smile and a helping hand. It didn’t take long before more people arrived from all walks of life including a few adventure dogs wearing their PFDs excited to hit the river. Prepared to spend the night with strangers and not knowing the river ahead I excitedly slid my boat into the water and pushed off into the green Guadalupe River without looking back.
It wasn’t long until we came to our first series of rapids. The person at the helm of our group would scout out a path, usually through trial-by-error, and the rest of us would follow single file. River flow was in our favor as it had been raining all week, but the lower class rapids could still be technical forcing boats loaded with camping gear to navigate small boulder and debris fields.
Midway through our first day of paddling the overcast weather turned to fog and then a soft rain came shortly after. Both my thin swim shorts and Columbia long sleeve were soaked from the cold river water and Texas humidity. I tightened my PFD snug to keep the heat at my core while my fingers and toes assimilated to the cool air temperature. People who don’t consider themselves “kayakers” probably would be uncomfortable in this situation, but I couldn’t help but smile: What a perfect weekend.
Still soaked, but thankful the rain had let up, we beached on a rather large island in the middle of the river. Essentially a pebble mound stacked with damp wood and overgrown by chinaberry saplings; this would be our camp. After taking a brief break to enjoy a change in the weather half our group continued down river to complete their day trip. The rest of us were sticking it out for the night. With saturated fingers, I got to work clearing a small site in the center of the island for the camping gear I had brought downriver with me via kayak.
We spent the rest of the day and night together. We fished. We read. We talked. We shared. A fire ring was built out of the larger pebbled rock and damp wood. The sun came out just long enough for us to dry our wet clothes and get a fire started from dried kindling. We ended the night sitting around the fire swapping stories of trips we had done and hoped to do soon. I lay there taking in the warmth beside me, stars above me, and the experience around me.
The repetitive sound of water droplets hitting my tent’s rainfly woke me up at 6 AM. The air temperature felt great as I lounged in my REI sleeping bag. The sky was still dark as I went back to sleep perfectly dry and happily dreaming of the jalapeno cheddar biscuits I would heat up for breakfast with my tea and crackers. For the trip, I had baked my own granola bars as well as jalapeno cheddar biscuits from scratch. I was going light on food, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t going to be good food. I supplemented meals for the quick overnight trip with tea, crackers, peanut butter, biscuits, noodles, granola, and fruit.
(Click HERE if you are interested in seeing where I get some of my camp food recipes!) After breakfast, we took our time to pack up camp and head down river. The majority of the trip mileage and overcast weather was quickly left behind us. The sky was beginning to clear up and the sun transformed that green water into clear glass washing over gold and grey river rocks. The paddle to Guadalupe River State Park was filled with a few more rapids making for a fun second leg of the trip filled with sunshine.
Just as quickly as the weekend had started, it was already coming to an end. I now sat in the back of the shuttle from Bergheim Campground listening to the future adventure plans of my new found companions. This weekend I had spent time with people I normally would not have interacted with on the street and learned that a supreme love of nature can bring people from different backgrounds together. Our adventures and our stories were never about the destinations or the gear and they never will be. The desire “to experience” life is what drives us all.
Special Thanks & Photo Credit to:
Joe & Mary, Ben, Christian, Tim, Hollywood, Jon & Kristina, Amy, Hippie, Samantha