A summer of Adventure – Hill Country Style
by Cary and Will Dupuy
At the end of May, the Dupuy family, like many families, was fed up. We were fed up with being cooped up in the house together, we were fed up with trying to figure out the different software programs for distance learning, and we were fed up with not knowing what the next day would bring. So, we decided to pack it up and head out to the Hill Country—a part of the state that has always been a place of fun, adventure, and most importantly for this summer, a place of recovery and renewal.
We’ve always treasured the rivers of the Hill Country, and the quarantine made us even more grateful for our close proximity to these beautiful bodies of water. Growing up, one of my earliest memories was wading and throwing rocks in the Llano River down the hill from the Castell General Store. Will has been going on family vacations to a dude ranch in Bandera since he was two. He loved it so much that he ended up working there in high school, and we travelled to the cypress-lined banks of the Medina River within our first three weeks of dating. We honeymooned at a family ranch on the Pedernales River, and on a return trip from Leakey in 2010, we decided to jump in every river we could on the way back to Austin. We swam in 6 rivers that day—the Frio, the Sabinal, the Medina, the Guadalupe, the Blanco, and the Colorado. Where else in the world could you pull that off?
In late May, while longing for the cold rivers, cool shade and radiant sunsets, we loaded up our kayaks, hitched up the truck to a rented RV, and headed west.
We weren’t sure of what a socially distanced vacation might look like, but we soon came to find wearing masks, physically distancing, and ordering our food to go didn’t keep us from having a memorable trip. Our 8-year-old son made his first solo kayak ride down the river rapids, and we discovered new local take-out. After a week of swimming and kayaking the Medina and exploring creeks feeding into the Guadalupe, we returned home with a new optimistic perspective. If we became fed up again, we could feed our souls with some nature therapy that was but a short drive away.
Throughout the summer, we continued to take short trips out to the Hill Country, whether it be a morning paddle on Lake Austin before the parks filled up too much, or a late evening hike on the Violet Crown Trail. We turned disappointment over canceled summer camps into new opportunities, like learning how to fly fish or practicing archery on the Lower Colorado River. We put a hole in our kayak dragging it along the banks of the Pedernales, so we learned how to patch it to keep it floating down more creeks. Somehow, thanks to the Hill Country, we made it through the summer one day, and story, at a time.
We ended this pandemic summer with another Hill Country adventure—this time exploring the clear shallow waters of the Nueces River. We closed out the weekend trip throwing rocks in the river with the dog and our son learning how to make a small fire on the river bed to cook hot dogs for dinner. As the sun set behind the bluffs we made our way back home to Austin, crossing those beautiful Hill Country rivers under the moonlight. We aren’t sure what the fall will bring us, but we do know that any time we are in need of rest and relaxation, the clear waters and open skies of the Hill Country will be waiting for us. We’ll always come home ready for the next challenge, and with a story or two to tell. We let the cool clear waters of the Hill Country wash our troubles away and feed our souls with hope for a better future.
We appreciate that our family lives in this beautiful region, and has these opportunities to escape to the outdoors—whether it be a walk on the Violet Crown Trail or a plunge into a refreshing swimming hole. We are also grateful for Hill Country Conservancy, and the work that they do to preserve our clear running rivers and open spaces, and to make clean water and access to nature available to everyone in the community. Through their work the Texas Hill Country will continue to provide the opportunity for renewal and memory-creating adventures for generations to come, no matter what life has in store for them.