The Brazos River Expedition of September 3, 2001

Carrying on, I noticed that the dark clouds were heading my way, toying with the tops of the hills in the distance. Still, there was no rain and I hoped that whatever storm there might be behind them would blow past to the west of me. This was a silly thought, really. I should know better than to trust the weather in Texas to cut me any slack! I was almost sick with passion to get to Sand Valley, and determined not to let a little possible rain spoil things.

Alas, it was not to be. Coming to Inspiration Point, it started. Just a drizzle at first, then after about twenty minutes, down it came. Forlorning turning back from the sandbar at the very entrance to  my destination, the rain lashed and the lightening began. This was going to be a test of nerves. As the banks on either side were solid thicket and I was now a good half mile from the boat ramp and its road to safety, I was forced to slog my way back downstream, an eye peeled for any potential shelter. The rain came hard, causing the surface of the river to dance with an ever-changing pattern of water hitting water. An eighth-mile to one side of me, lighting struck home in a pasture. A minute later, it hit the opposite side of the river. I tried not to panic, but the thought occured to me that the storm was firing for range and that any moment now it would find its target.

This was a face of the river I had not seen before...a gray, sodden visage of sky-born moisture meeting the earth-bound water, as though the boundary between the two was in upheaval. Every feature was somehow different under the rain and the diffused light coming through the clouds. I felt even more alone now, more alone than I'd felt in a long time.

For some reason, I continued past the boat ramp, determined to make the railway bridge and take shelter there. Lightning came more frequently and I found a passable spot on the east bank and scrambled up. I probably shouldn't have bothered. The going was tough through the scrub and footing in the wet was uncertain at best. It seemed as though it took twice as much effort to cover the same distance on land as it did in water. Finally, I was within eyeshot of the bridge and happily re-entered the river. I made it to a spot under the spanning hulk of metal and stone and took shelter for maybe half an hour as the storm continued on past me to the south.

Finally, the lightning died away and rain subsided to a strong drizzle. Not much for remaining stationary, I continued on downstream. The rest of the way was relatively uneventful, but visually quite arresting and moody in the gray gloom.

I realized that I had done something quite foolish...and the river let me get away with it. Rather than feeling chagrined, I felt gratitude. And, it didn't feel like a mistake when I got home that evening. It felt like something much more profound.


Map of this expedition

Next: 2001 Season Wrapup