DRC's Adventures

The Incredible Shrinking Creek

Most bizarre kayaking experience ever.  I got a whitewater “bootie call” at around 6:30 PM to do a sunset run of Barton Creek, a Class III-IV stream that flows right through Austin and only generates decent whitewater after a heavy rain.  It was apparently flowing 400 cfs (cubic feet per second) at the Lost Creek gauge, which is at the lower end of the runnable range.  The Loop 360 gauge was reading 0, however and the guys suspected that the gauge was busted.  Sure enough, we got to 360, and there was water.  Woohoo!  Paddle, paddle, paddle.  We ran Triple Falls, got almost to Pinball, then boom!  No more river.  Apparently we got ahead of the bubble, and there was only dry creek ahead.  We sat in the pool below Pinball waiting for it to slowly rise over a period of 10 minutes, then it finally started activating the next rapid.  Initially the rapid was very technical and creeky, then it got friendlier as more water started flowing through it.  After another 10 minutes or so, the rapid was runnable and we could progress downstream.  However, because of the swiss-cheese limestone in the bed of Barton Creek, a lot of the water was flowing down into the aquifer, and thus each successive pool was taking longer and longer to fill.  We spent the next hour running only a mile of river before we had to take out at Gus Fruh because it was getting dark.

The first part of this video (by Kyle) is a time-lapse shot of us waiting in the pool below Pinball for the creek to rise.