During spring break, my parents came down for a visit, and we took a trip south to the Guadalupe River. It still being March, at temperatures in the 50s (degrees F) the water was far too cold for tubing, so this was more of a driving tour down River Road. The plant life was still in transition from winter, but spring buds on the trees marked the greenery soon to come.
We started at the dam at Canyon Lake near Sattler and worked our way down River Road toward Gruene (pronounced “green”), a historic district located within New Braunfels (How’s that for multiple places mentioned in a single sentence?). I used to live in the Sattler area in my teenage years, as well as in New Braunfels — it was nice to return for a visit.
Around the dam outlet, spring was yawning and stretching, with new flowers, buds, and early wildlife. I didn’t realize these lovely white blooms were dewberry flowers until I got home and saw the same flowers in my side yard.
An oddity in nature, a tree burl prompted this week’s post at Beautiful Wildlife Garden, where you can also see some tree romance observed at the same river spot.
Here’s a taste of things to come — I caught so many pictures of pollinators visiting this beautiful Mountain Laurel in bloom that I’m devoting my next post to it:
The Canyon Dam outlet marks the beginning of the Lower Guadalupe, and people from all over come to enjoy the scenery and water recreation. In a couple of months, this river will be full of folks moving along the current in various floating crafts.
At low levels, the Guadalupe is popular for tubing, while higher levels bring out the canoers, kayakers, and rafting groups. But heavy rainfall can quickly turn the river to treacherous
whitewater conditions with potential for serious flooding. The picture above shows an area of rapids at Hueco Springs (sometimes spelled Huaco, pronounced “Waco” by the locals). The rapids look deceptively mild in the picture, and yet many deaths and near-drownings have occurred at this very spot, at both lower and higher water levels.
Back in my day (heh), there was a pool underneath the rapids that created a dangerous undertow that would trap people below the water if their tube flipped. I’ve personally been flipped and caught in that undertow and its washing-machine effect, and it’s easy to panic while you try to find a way to push out, even if you are a strong swimmer. I felt very lucky that I didn’t add to drowning statistics that day. Supposedly, they’ve made some changes to the spot to reduce drowning potential or at least guide tubes away from the pool. And in the rushing water of higher levels, inexperienced canoers have died when their canoe became wrapped around that large boulder seen in the picture. Sudden flash floods also have swept campers away. It’s a beautiful spot but one to approach with utmost respect for the power of water.
Another word of caution if you are planning on visiting the Guadalupe. Water moccasins, or cottonmouths, are common along the river, particularly in warmer temperatures. I’ve seen them in the trees above the river, quite an alarming site when you are floating below them in a tube, and one time I almost stepped on one along a river trail. Given that these venomous snakes are most excellent swimmers and rather aggressive in nature (literally), it’s best to keep an eye out and avoiding aggravating one if you run across it. But don’t let fear of snakes keep you from visiting the river — in general, these snakes are as equally uninterested in being your friend as you are theirs, and most people never see one. I guess I’m just that lucky! Just be aware, that’s all I’m saying.
We finished up our driving tour with dinner at the Grist Mill in Gruene, a historic favorite for both tourists and locals. A fine day, with a promise of future and longer visits and fun.