(Please click to biggify the images!)
Pat on the Llano
The adventure got off to a rough start. They got off late and by the time they arrived we had tied our boats on the car only to discover the kayak rack was about to come off and we couldn't find the key. So we had to throw our boats in with theirs in Don's truck which took some rearranging. The guys rode in the truck and us gals rode in my SUV.
After we got 15 miles out of town my check transmission light came on. Ugh! We decided to ditch my car back at their house and pick up Pat's car. Only we forgot their gate key. Fortunately someone else was leaving their subdivision when we arrived or it would have been a walk.
We transferred our gear into their car and met back up with the guys on the side of the road. That's when I realized I'd left the map to the put-in/take-out back in my car. I've done this run many times but not in about six years and it's all on little country roads not found on a highway map. We decided to go forth on my memory.
Which wasn't perfect. We tried a couple roads before it all came back to me. After launching around 2 p.m. the rest of the trip was wonderful!
Approaching the bluffs
The Llano in Mason is much wider than our river, and not as cold. You can jump in to swim without shrieking first. This five mile run was voted one of the top 20 most scenic paddles in Texas, and graced the cover of Texas Monthly. At 187 cfs it got a little thin in places and sticky on rocks but no portage was necessary. In the past I've run it more around 300 cfs. There are about five easy rapids you could almost run blindfolded. We did have a strong headwind for the first half of the trip but the weather was otherwise beautiful.
Farmer Rick looking great!
The main scenic feature is the sandstone bluffs where cliff swallows nest. The swallows were already gone, but we did see an awesome hawk, mostly light colored, catch something and take it to her nest on one of the ledges above.
A lovely place to relax and swim.
Don at the bluffs
It took us about 4-1/2 hours of paddling, and an hour of playing, but we got off the water in time to catch some Mexican food in town before heading back.
Good ol' Bassett
As we were leaving the take-out this old boy strolled out into the road and sat down so we had to stop. Don and Pat have five Bassett Hounds, so we took it as a good sign. He had a collar and a rabies tag, and probably belonged to one of the nearby ranch houses. His tongue was almost dragging the ground so we tried to convince him to drink some of our water and get out of the road, but upon seeing the truck he wanted to get in and go for a ride. We left him to carry on with his business of getting to where he was going, and got on with ours.
This was so fun we'll have to do it again soon!