Archive | May, 2011

Float #7: Meramec River

11 May

Cedar Ford to Woodson K. Woods

Meramec River Map

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, May 8
9 Miles

We had spent most of Saturday doing garden chores and various yard work and planned to do the same on Sunday. However, upon waking and stepping outside it was already hot and very sunny. Screw the chores, let’s go floating! DW called his friend who owns Adventure Outdoors along the Meramec River in Steelville. Luckily, he was available to shuttle our boats and that sealed the deal. We quickly gathered our float gear, threw together some food and leftover beers from the previous weekend and hit the road.

sycamore tree meramec river

A sycamore parallels the water

The upper Meramec is a beautiful stretch of river and only an hour from our house, so it is our go-to choice when we want to float somewhere away from the house, but not too far. The water was still high upriver, but not nearly as muddy as it was downriver near our house. We decided to put in at Cedar Ford, which is not always floatable in the lower summer water, and take out at Woodson K. Woods conservation area. Since this was a very impromptu float, we didn’t get on the river till after 1pm. The water was swift enough to make it a lazy day without too much paddling.

Cedar Ford Meramec River

Low water bridge at Cedar Ford

Cedar Ford is not an official access point and there is no parking lot, so it is best to get a shuttle for this float or risk parking your car along the road. The gravel road gets washed out after heavy rain and a 4wd vehicle is usually needed.

bluffs meramec river

Low bluffs near Cedar Ford

meramec river

Fast ripples on the river

The water at the put in was quick and the first couple miles went by swiftly. The upper Meramec is twisty and remote, with many narrow spots and deep swimming holes. We took advantage of the hot day to take plenty of swim breaks. Though not the first swim of the year, it was the first that wasn’t shockingly cold. The water was chilly and a bit murky, but perfect for a hot day. The Meramec is a river with a beautiful color palette that is rivaled only by the Current River. Unfortunately it gets so stirred up by motorboats in the summer that it is unnoticeable. That is why I prefer this river in the off season.

meramec river

The vibrant beauty of the Meramec

gravel bar kayak meramec river

Our lunch stop

We took a late lunch on a large gravel bar. It took a while to find a good spot. With the high water many gravel bars were submerged and the larger ones were in full sun. We compensated with more swimming. This part of the river is heavily lined with trees and low bluffs. There were not many obstacles, but there were many rocks submerged in the high water. We didn’t see much wildlife beyond the normal crowd, but we did catch a glimpse of a brood of baby ducks and their mother. They saw us coming a quickly swam behind a log to hide.

hwy 8 bridge meramec river

Floating under the hwy. 8 bridge

The float was over all too soon. We took out at 5pm and were back home in time to finish those pesky garden chores.

Critter Count: Turtles, Blue Herons, Baby Ducks

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Float #6: Osage Fork River

11 May

Drynob to Hull Ford

Osage Fork River Map

Osage Fork River
Laclede County, Missouri
Saturday, April 30
14 Miles

On this weekend we traveled to the Fort Leonardwood area for the biannual MVOR caving campout. This is a group of Missouri and Illinois area cavers who gather to camp, cave, float and party in different locations around the state. DW’s family has been involved for many years and that’s how I became introduced to the group. I have been caving a few times, but we usually use the MVOR weekend to float. There are many great rivers in this area, including the Big Piney, Little Piney, Gasconade, Osage Fork, Niangua and Little Niangua. Though both Pineys are a popular choice and well worth exploring, we have done those rivers many times and wanted to try something new. We decided on the Osage Fork due to it’s proximity to the campground and easy shuttle.

Osage Fork River

DW, Jake and Charlie

We were joined on this float by our frequent fellow kayak enthusiast, Charlie and our good friend Jake, who drove up from Nashville, TN. Jake borrowed my old red kayak for the day. I always brag that the red boat is unflippable. I have taken it down the whitewater in the St. Francis river and never flipped it once. Of course Jake had to prove me wrong and fell out when he ran into an obstacle. Unfortunately Charlie and I were ahead of him and missed the entertainment.

Osage Fork River

Small waterfall from the recent rain

Osage Fork River

DW checks out the waterfalls

The weather forecast for the day was all over the place, originally supposed to be warm and partly cloudy with a chance of scattered showers. It turned out to be chilly and overcast, but luckily we didn’t get any rain. All the rivers were still running high or at low flood stage due to all the rain in the previous weeks. The Osage was no exception. The waters were running within the banks, but much higher than normal.

Osage Fork River

Typical scenery along the Osage

Osage Fork River

Charlie plays chicken with some cows

The Osage Fork is a small river similar to the Little Piney and has great fishing. It makes for a leisurely float with typical Missouri farmland scenery, large sycamore trees and a few low bluffs. There were many downed trees across the river, though I don’t know if they were recently felled in high flood water or are a normal occurrence. We never had to portage, but a few spots left only the narrowest of gaps between treetop and bank to squeeze a kayak through. If we were in a canoe we probably would have been scraped out of the boat!

Osage Fork River

Eagles nest high in a sycamore

There is not much to report about this float as we didn’t pass any landmarks or natural areas of interest, but it was fun all the same. We did get to see a pair of bald eagles and their nest. That is the second one we’ve seen this year; a true sign that the eagles are really back in strong numbers!

Critter Count: Herons, Ducks, Turtles, 1 Otter, 2 Bald Eagles and a nest