West Hansen loads a canoe on top of a truck after paddling the Colorado River. Terri Lynn Manna looks on. Pam LeBlanc photo


The last time I spent much time in a canoe, I spent way too much time in a canoe.

That was Texas Water Safari last June, when I paddled nearly non-stop for 53 hours in a three-person boat headed 260 miles from San Marcos to Seadrift. When that adventure wrapped, my butt hurt, my shoulders ached, my brain had fried and all I wanted to do was sleep – for about five weeks. Many moons passed before I could even think about gliding down a river dodging alligator gar, clambering over floating mats of bobbing logs, communing with palm-sized spiders and wading through mud.

Yesterday, though, I climbed into a tandem canoe with a high school friend for a 24-mile paddle down the Colorado River to scout part of the route of the upcoming Texas Winter 100K race, which starts at Lady Bird Lake and finishes at Fisherman’s Park in Bastrop.

I competed in the race last year as part of my training for the Safari, and loved seeing the river barren of leaves, and paddling through a crispy sunrise. I’m not planning to race the Safari this year (maybe next!), but I am considering doing the TWO, which shook out as a full day of wildlife spotting, peeing-without-getting-out-of-the-boat training and general conditioning last year. But water levels are lower now, so I haven’t made the final call. (Also, I’m not sure my friend, veteran paddler Curt Slaten, can tolerate me for that long.))

Still, yesterday’s cruise in semi-sluggish waters made for a fun day, punctuated by the sighting of numerous Mexican eagles (caracara), several squadrons of cormorants, some jumping fish, a few other paddlers, and one nice scamper through the woods. Race director West Hansen, along with fellow Arctic Cowboy Jeff Wueste and cross-country traveler Terri Lynn Manna, joined us for the excursion.

Interested in the race? Go to www.texaswinter100kto register. There’s even a category for standup paddlers, who for the first time can do the entire 62-mile distance this year.

And if free stuff matters to you, listen closely. This race hands out the best schwag of any I’ve ever entered – a slew of Yeti coolers and cups and outdoor gear, all doled out during a raffle at the pre-race briefing the night before. That alone could be worth the price of admission.

Terri Lynn Manna, center, takes a nap while West Hansen, front, calls for a shuttle pickup. Jeff Wueste watches from the driver’s seat. Pam LeBlanc photo

West Hansen checks the route of the upcoming Texas Winter 100K. Pam LeBlanc photo

West Hansen checks the route of the upcoming Texas Winter 100K. Pam LeBlanc photo





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