Pam LeBlanc hauls bags of trash from her canoe to a dumpster. Chris LeBlanc photo

I spent a satisfying day yesterday paddling a 6-mile stretch of the San Marcos River, loading my aluminum canoe with old flip flops, car tires and deflated innertubes left on the waterway.

I turned my boat into a floating trash barge for the first day of the San Marcos River Cleanup, hosted by theTexas Canoe and Kayak Racing Association. My final haul included an old fishing rod, a slew of plastic containers, a football, a deflated raft, swim goggles, and a cow femur wearing an exploded tennis shoe. I left the dead deer behind, and another boat traveling with us picked up more tires, more innertubes, more plastics, and a toilet seat (found, then lost again.)

Chris LeBlanc wrestles garbage from an old cypress tree on the San Marcos River. Pam Leblanc photo

It’s discouraging to see so much garbage in the river, a place that brings me so much joy. I spent a lot of time on it last year training for and participating in the Texas Water Safari, a 260-mile paddling race from San Marcos to the Texas coast.

The good news? If you want to participate but missed yesterday’s event, you can join day two of the event, scheduled for Saturday, March 7.

You don’t need a boat to participate. The upper stretches of the river and its banks, especially at highway crossings and bridges, are so trashed that volunteers are needed to walk the shore, collecting garbage.

Chris LeBlanc rolls a discarded tire off the San Marcos River in Luling. Pam LeBlanc photo

Gird your loins if you plan to attend – it’s pretty nasty out there, and organizers of the 35thannual event promise a serious yuck factor. You’ll be handsomely rewarded, just through knowing you’re helping to keep our waterways – and the creatures that live there – healthy.

Chris LeBlanc holds up a cow femur wearing a shoe. Pam LeBlanc photo

“Volunteers are guaranteed to experience trash jams that resemble the trash compactor (complete with monster) from the original Star Wars movie,” a web posting about the event says. “This section of river is not recommended for the faint of heart.”

To help clean the top section of the river (suitable for novice boaters), the 2-mile stretch from San Marcos City Park to Thompson’s Island, meet at City Park at 9:30 March 7. To register, go to the City of San Marcos website at

Part of the haul. Pam LeBlanc photo

If you’re an experienced paddler, consider pitching in to help clean the 3.5-mile stretch of river from Thompson’s Island to San Marcos River Retreat. Meet at the retreat at 9 am on March 7.
Plan on staying on the river until about 4 p.m. Organizers will deliver lunch to the San Marcos Wastewater Treatment Plant at about noon.

To get to the San Marcos River Retreat from Interstate 35 in San Marcos, take Highway 80 toward Luling for 1.8 miles. Turn light on County Road 101. Take an immediate left onto County Road 102. Go one half mile and turn right on Pecan Park Road. Pass TG Canoes and Kayaks and the road will end at the San Marcos River Retreat office.

For more info call Tom Goynes at 512-787-5574 or go to

Jason Sowell participates in a trash cleanup on the San Marcos River on Feb. 29, 2020. Pam LeBlanc photo



About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam