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The Pecos in August
   August, 2010
by Charles Zipprian

Friday morning August 13, 2010, we met at the boat ramp off of highway 90 just outside of Comstock, TX. After the success of the trip in May, the three college students wanted to do another trip upstream before school started. Matthew Zipprian, Randi Derrick, Collin Simpkins and myself made up the party heading upstream. Total round trip was 33.5 miles of paddling. Randi and Collin are new members of HCC with very little white water experience.

   Matthew (in green canoe) took the opportunity to catch up on his sleep.
  (Click on thumbnail photos to see a large version.)
Terry Burgess and Kathleen have a canoe outfitted with a 4hp outboard motor. We tied our canoe and two kayaks to his canoe and headed upstream at a little over 5mph. The trip took us from mile 61 to mile 48.5 per Louis’s book, crossing under the hwy 90 and Railroad Bridge. While the lake level was much higher than the previous trip, we were released from the tow at mile 48.5. We untied the boats and headed upstream. Travel time from boat ramp to mile 48.5 was just over two hours.

Upstream teamwork
Paddling upstream for most of the way we had seven rapids and the Weir dam to traverse. With the exception of the Weir dam rapid, all the rapids were traveled with a medium amount of effort. We decided to team up on each boat to move upstream.

   Pecos rapid
At the lower water levels, the Weir dam took only 15 minutes in May. At the higher lake water levels we experienced in August, the Weir dam was very difficult. The water was flowing deeper and faster. We decided to move the red sit-on-top kayak upstream with three people helping and Randi acting as sweep in case of any issues. At some point, each of the three of us lost footing in the water. Once we were through the rapid with the red boat, we rested and evaluated the situation. All believed that the canoe and sit in kayak would be swamped if we tried the same route upstream. We decided to portage around one particular section of the rapid, while this was harder to accomplish the portage was done easier and quicker than moving the boats up against the water flow. Total time required to traverse this rapid was an hour and half. Once we got past the dam, the remainder of the trip to Painted Canyon was completed in two hours.

   Having Lunch in the shade
We made base camp at Painted Canyon. Over the next three days, we spent time hiking, fishing, swimming, and enjoying the scenery. The average daytime temperature was 100 degrees. We found that the small shaded area-facing north felt at least 20 degrees cooler in the late afternoon.

Matthew Fishing

Charles catching…

Yeah Yeah... it's a nice fish
We were catch and release fishing, Matthew caught one twice as big as Charles…

Dinner time was Shrimp Scampi, Angel Hair pasta, Cucumber Salad w/ ranch dressing and Iced Tea:

On one of the days, we set off early to hike up the canyon to visit the shelters.

Cave art site #1

Cave art site #2

River view

Randi and Matthew cooling off after the hike

On another day, we took the empty boats upstream.

We paddled upstream to Three Rock Rapid. Traveling back downstream, we got some much-needed practice running class I rapids. On the way back, stopped for lunch at Split Rock.

Can you see Collin on top of Split Rock?

On the final day at Painted Canyon, Matthew and Collin decided to enjoy the clear waters of the Pecos. A deep pool exists at the mouth of the canyon.

Eventually everyone tried the plunge. It was quite refreshing.

Additional sights of the Pecos Region:

Everyone had a great time and all are looking to again visiting the Pecos, either upstream or down.  In the end Matthew said the trip was not nearly as difficult as he first thought.

The author, Charles Zipprian