Camping out at Guadalupe River State Park is like having three adventures in one: at a waterpark, a wildlife park, and–at least in our case–a (family) circus.
In July 2004, my brother Carl and his family invited my friend Bobby Adcock and me to spend several days tent-camping with them at this gorgeous park on the rim of the upper Guadalupe River. We accepted, but we had our qualms. First of all, neither of us had camped out for decades. Second, it was July, for Pete's sake! Wouldn't we swelter or burn to a crisp or feel too old for such antics?
None of us had ever visited Guadalupe River State Park, much less camped there. After our first look around, we voiced unrestrained admiration for the 1,938-acre park's natural beauty. Abundant Ashe junipers, oaks, elms, and occasional sycamores shelter comfortable camping areas, and bald cypresses stretch skyward along the riverbanks. Here, magnificent cliffs of limestone trace the path of the Guadalupe River as it sluices, gurgles, and cascades in cool, clear emerald splendor on its journey from its origins, in Kerr County, southeastward 230 miles to San Antonio Bay on the Gulf Coast. Above the park, only rainfall from Nature herself dictates the river's flow, since no manmade impediment restrains the Guadalupe until it reaches Canyon Dam, which impounds nearby Canyon Lake.
Camping out amidst this bounty of Nature proved to be exciting, bracing, and, sometimes, challenging. Our family group, helped along by a few welcome amenities such as extension cords to tap into the electrical outlets and a couple of water-hoses to channel the running water at our campsites, made the most of every hour. We hiked, swam, tubed, rafted, talked, shared meals and memories, and, best of all, we renewed precious bonds of family kinship.
Our crew, which spread out over three campsites, numbered 13 and ranged in age from 13 months to 67. Setting up camp with them was a breeze. Modern camping equipment has come a long way since the days of heavy canvas tents and cumbersome wood-legged cots and chairs. Thanks to the new, lightweight nylon gear, we made short work of raising our tents. Electric, plug-in pumps helped us air up sleeping-mattresses quickly, and well-insulated ice chests chilled and protected our food and drinks. Propane-fueled lanterns and stoves added another practical dimen–sion to portability, and we also set up small oscillating fans to offset the heat a bit.
From the July 2005 issue.