Kayaker treks Colorado River, Highland Lakes on Gulf excursion



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Nathan Hendrix/The Highlander
Ethan West, at just 22 years old, embarked recently on a kayaking adventure from near the headwaters of the Llano River to the Gulf Coast. The Highlander caught up to him April 10 at the LBJ Yacht Club and Marina on Lake LBJ as he started to make a transition onto Lake Marble Falls.





By Nathan Hendrix
Staff Writer

The spirit of adventure can motivate people to do extraordinary things. For Ethan West, it was his motivation to kayak to the Gulf of Mexico.

I'm 22 years old. Right now is the time to go do things,” Ethan said. “I want to do things that I'll remember for my whole life.”

Ethan owns a barber shop in Mason; he said he had to notify his regular customers months in advance about his plan to close the shop for nearly a month so he could explore the state of Texas.

After his research, he determined there was no better way to do that than in a kayak.

There are no extended hiking trails or anything like that,” he said. “We have navigable rivers, and I thought it was the best way to see Texas.”

Ethan's journey began in Telegraph near the head of the Llano River on April 1, and he estimates it will end on April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico.

On Wednesday, April 10, Ethan entered Lake LBJ and found the heavy winds difficult to navigate. He said it was the toughest stretch to that point in his trek.

When you're on a dam, you're more elevated than normal, so you get all this wind on the water,” he said. “It took me an hour to get across Horseshoe Bay.”

Crossing Horseshoe Bay was significantly slower than the previous leg of his trip; the day before, he covered 26 miles before stopping for the night.

Ethan is not a world-class athlete. He said it wasn't possible for him to train for kayaking so far in such a short amount of time, so he didn't.

I've done some kayaking while fishing, but nothing on a scale like this,” he said. “The only way you can train for paddling 10 hours a day is to paddle 10 hours a day, but if you have a job, that's not going to happen.”

This isn't Ethan's first experience with lengthy, physically-demanding journeys. He said he has already finished hiking the Appalachian Trail.

He said his experiences from the first journey provided him with the knowledge to more efficiently execute his Colorado River trip. The most important thing he learned is there's no shame in accepting help.

Being young, you think you can do it by yourself,” he said. “I got over that real quick on the Appalachian Trail. I've been very blessed to have people help me on this trip.” . . .

Read more about Ethan's river trek in the Friday, April 12 issue of The Highlander, the newspaper of record for the Highland Lakes. To make a comment or offer a news tip, email nathan@highlandernews.com.

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