SAN ANTONIO – Exploring a new side of the San Antonio River: That's the goal of a local kayak company on the city's south side.
Owner Sarah Neal took over Mission Kayak in 2017. Since then, she's made it her mission to show people the San Antonio River goes beyond the Riverwalk.
"This is all about nature, your family, connecting people with the water," Neal said. "The San Antonio River starts at an artesian spring called the Blue Hole up at Incarnate Word, and it goes all the way down through downtown and goes another 226 miles to San Antonio Bay."
A 5-mile stretch at Mission Reach is now used for kayaking. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or it's your first time, almost anyone can enjoy all the river has to offer while getting in a good workout.
"People that have maybe a little bit of mobility issues, they can't walk very far, they can't run very far, but they can come out and rent a kayak, sit down and paddle and have a great day," Neal said.
The longer you're paddling, the harder it gets. A 2-mile trip takes one hour to complete. A 3-mile trip takes about two hours.
"If you do the 4 miles, you need to be fit. You've got 15 to 16 chutes you're going down. By the time you know it, you're 4 miles in and you've broke a sweat. You're right about 1,200 calories you've burned in four hours," Neal said.
The challenge and camaraderie is what brings kayakers like Kenny Munn out. "I know people that are 80 years old and still out here doing this," Munn said. "You have to stay sharp and focused. You're constantly correcting and getting the boat straightened out, thinking about where you've got to go next."
First-time kayakers can always take a guided tour with one of Mission Kayak's American Canoe Association-certified guides. You can also choose to ride alone or go as a group.
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"There's no beer, alcohol allowed in, there's no tubes, so you can bring your family out here and have a wonderful day on the river," Neal said.
Helping people explore one of San Antonio's treasures goes hand in hand with getting them involved in the community. "If I can get the community interested and in love with the river, then they help take care of the river," Neal said.
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