The cars loaded with yaks, bikes and more.

This Father’s Day my dad and I ended up having a bit of an unexpected adventure. We started with plans of my dad trying a stand up paddleboard for the first time but when I showed up the day of I found myself being talked into an overnight camping trip and a five hour paddle at Colorado Bend State Park here in Texas. We had some hesitations (namely the triple digit heat and low water conditions) but I think we were both looking and ready for an adventure so a week later we put our plans into action.

On the day of the trip, we loaded up our vehicles with a Wilderness Systems Ride 135 for my dad and a Dagger Zydeco 11 for myself. Along with the kayaks our cars were packed with camping equipment including a Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad that I was excited to try out. My dad also attached his Yakima SwingDaddy Hitch Mount to bring along his mountain bike.

Slow moving waters made up the majority of the paddle.

One of the tricky things about paddling down a river, and the reason we brought two cars, is transportation between your put-in and take-out. Luckily, we surveyed launch points online before leaving and had been able to find an area where we could park a second car that was only a twenty minute drive north from the campground. We left our shuttle car and got ready for our paddle!

The section of the Colorado River we paddled was made up of long, slow moving bends that were broken up by faster moving shallow sections. The slow moving sections gave us ample time to take in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country and all the wildlife that made its home there but never became too dull because of the faster moving stuff. We passed by a few coldwater springs where we stopped to find some relief from the triple digit temperatures. We also made sure to make pit stops on the bank to rest and reapply sunscreen. I noticed that the Zydeco had trouble keeping up with the Ride 135 during the longer sections but really came in handy when it came to maneuvering around the shallow rocks. It also offered some protection for my legs from the sun (my poor dad’s legs were beet red by the end). All in all, it was a great boat to paddle.

Tents all setup, no rain fly's for us!

By the end of the 12 mile stretch, we were dead tired. The constant paddling and the heat really had taken it out of us so before we set up camp we jumped in Colorado Bend’s spring fed swimming hole. Contrary to what we expected, the water was warm, but still very relaxing. Eventually we made it back to camp and there were beers, steaks and stories around the campfire before finally getting to sleep. I was able to enjoy a very comfortable night’s rest using the Therm-a-Rest, although I had some trouble rolling it up for the first time the following morning (I watched a how-to and feel ready for next time though).

For those who might be considering their own paddling trip this summer, take it from me that you shouldn’t let the heat get you down! Start by picking a destination that has water nearby and plenty of trees for shade. Then remember to pack smart – you’ll need lots of drinking water, shades, a hat, sunscreen and breathable, lightweight clothes. Finally, there are lots of little things you can do like not putting a rain fly on your tent if you’re camping (unless it might rain) and taking lots of rest stops. The heat can definitely be an obstacle, but it isn’t worth missing out on a great outdoor adventure!

The springs were beautiful and relaxing.

In the end the trip was an awesome experience and a great way to spend time with my dad. Prior to the trip he kept saying how he “just wanted to see what he was capable of” since it had been a while since he had gone paddling. I think we both learned that a little 12 mile paddle wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. Thanks for reading and happy paddling!

– Joseph@ACK