Packed up and headed out at around 8 AM, the SMU OA Spring Canoe Trip was off! At near full capacity [nine participants and two trip leaders], we started on our first leg of the trip pushing toward the Texas—Louisiana State-Border. With a quick stop along the way for lunch at What-A-Burger, we arrived at our put in point [some five hours from departing SMU], Bean’s VIP Campground, on the Texas side of the Toledo Bend Reservoir. With the canoes and single kayak all packed up, the group was nearly ready to go—with the addition of an in the field clinic on paddling and canoe 101, the group was ready to embark on a journey to Louisiana. Starting in a protected cove, we made our way through some marsh like waters and then out into the open reservoir. The crossing was the “crux” of the trek to the Louisiana side; with clear blue skies, but a constant wind gust, the group battled the current pushing the boats inherently northeast. All but one boat made it across with now issues—having to deal with a flip in the middle of the reservoir was a doozy, but we quickly righted the canoe, got the participants warm and were back on track. Pulling in after around a four hour paddle, we made friends with the Assistant-Manager and Police Officer of the Park. The Officer sorted out the group with a campsite and introduced us to our camping neighbors. While collecting firewood for the evening, the group was invited to join a few of their new neighbors, the USIS’ [a social organization from the Shreveport, Louisiana area comprised of upstanding members of the community] for dinner. After a good two hours of true “Southern Hospitality” and fun, the group parted ways and we reconvened at camp and built a fire. Due to looming inclement weather to come Sunday afternoon—the trip leaders, were able to execute a contingency plan to pick up the van from the Texas side and bring it to the Louisiana side. While one leader nabbed the van, the other stayed at camp and hosted a warm filling breakfast. Upon arrival with the van, we broke down camp, packed up the canoes and hit the road headed home! We will certainly be back to North Toledo Bend in the future!
Hunter Higgins- SMU OA Trip Leader.