A Record-Setting Expedition In Texas Floodwaters

100 miles on a stand up paddle board

Posted by Adventure On Outdoors on Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Record-Setting Expedition In Texas Floodwaters

Five friends paddle 100 miles through flooded Texas.

When Daniel Underbrink and four of his buddies planned the first ever unassisted, 100-mile, 4-day paddleboard expedition along Texas’ Guadalupe River down to the Gulf of Mexico, the forecast called for clear skies, moderate conditions and declining water levels. But, as they found, forecasts don’t always mean much in Texas. Two days into their trip, daylight broke to a torrential downpour. The river had risen more than 15 feet overnight. The fellas climbed on their iSUPs and paddled 33 miles that day.

A little foul weather wasn’t going to deter them. According to Underbrink, the weather only aided the excitement. Now, with the expedition behind them and a newfound sense of adventure engrained in their spirits, it’s only a matter of time before the next adventure begins.—MF

An Ode To The River

by Daniel Underbrink

Backpacking gear, a few cameras, some freeze dried food, a river, and a destination; it was all we needed to attempt our impossible.

Four days gave us plenty of time to cover a hundred Texas miles. Add a slow, winding river, a prevailing headwind, a ten-mile open water crossing and conquer it all on a paddleboard—now you have an adventure.

I wanted to test myself, push my limits, and set a standard for paddling in Texas. I wanted something new. Something that allowed me to become part of the river; I wanted the feeling of an expedition and the possibilities of an adventure.

A paddleboard and the Guadalupe River did just that. When asked about the trip, I normally tell of the crazy storms that hit us on the first two days. I tell of the rain that caused the river to spill its banks and rise more than 15 feet in a few short hours. I tell of the logjams that broke our soul after hours of hard paddling. I tell of the bugs that sucked the life out of us. I tell of the winds that beat us down.

But my mind remembers it differently. It remembers the glide of the paddleboard on the brown Texas floodwater. It remembers the sound of the water, the grip on the paddle, the crackle of the campfire, the voices of friends. I remember the river.

Rivers draw me to their banks, their landscapes, their solitude, their uniqueness; but my method of travel allows me to understand it all. I bought a paddleboard, we planned a trip, and we completed a hundred-mile paddle. It was a test of endurance. It was a test of spirit. It was epic in its own right. It was everything I imagined and more. Yet, it leaves me yearning for more. I want the feeling of the river beneath my feet. I want to go further and further. —Daniel Underbrink

More:
River expeditions
Surfing freighter wakes in Texas.