West Hansen, left, and Branndon Bargo go for a shakeout run on Lady Bird Lake on Sunday, May 17. Pam LeBlanc photo

Five Texas paddlers are heading to the Third Coast this week to paddle from Boca Chica Beach in Brownsville to Sabine Pass near Port Arthur.
I’m tagging along on that mini-expedition, which should take about eight days, but not in a boat. I’ll be on shore, chasing the team, camping on the beach, and documenting the adventure as it unfolds.

West Hansen is leading a 385-mile paddling trip up the Texas Coast starting on Wednesday. He went for a training run on Lady Bird Lake this morning. Pam LeBlanc photo

West Hansen, who led a 2012 paddling expedition more than 4,000 miles down the length of the Amazon River, heads up the team, which also includes Jeff Wueste, Jimmy Harvey, Branndon Bargo, and Tim Curry. Hansen, Wueste and Harvey are part of the upcoming Arctic Cowboys expedition to kayak the Northwest Passage.
Collectively, they haul around boatloads of experience. Hansen has finished the grueling 260-mile Texas Water Safari canoe race 20 times and won the Missouri River 340 as a solo paddler. He’s also a member of the prestigious Explorers Club, whose members include astronauts, mountain climbers and underwater explorers. The other paddlers are experienced canoe racers and Safari veterans, too.

Jimmy Harvey, in red, is part of the Cowboys’ Third Coast Kayak trip starting next week. Pam LeBlanc photo

They’ll cover roughly 385 miles on the next week’s Texas trip, paddling outside the third sandbar as they go to avoid the worst of the surge and wave action. I’m bringing my swim gear, so I can log some ocean miles while I wait for them to come in. (As a side note, we’ve all gotten COVID-19 tests, to make sure we don’t cross infect one another along the way. And we’ll practice social distancing.)
I managed to stay upright this morning while simultaneously wrangling cameras and paddling a racing canoe alongside the guys as they chugged up and down Lady Bird Lake on a shakeout run.
Check my blog for updates.

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