Float #22: Meramec River

12 Sep

Campbell Bridge to Sappington Bridge

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Monday, September 5
10 miles

Labor Day is one of those holidays I usually stay away from the rivers due to large crowds and rowdy people. Scott & Megan wanted to do a short float on Monday and since we had no plans and it was a beautiful day we said why not. Most people were headed home by Monday so the river wasn’t crowded. We decided to do a section of the Meramec none of us had done before and we didn’t regret it. This section of the river was lined with tall bluffs and forested banks. The water was very clear and cold. Campbell bridge is right next to Blue Springs Ranch, a campground by the river, in Bourbon, MO. You have to carry your boat down a steep, gravely hill to get to the water and hope you don’t slide all the way in! We put on the river around 11 and the wind had started to pick up by then. The forecast for the day called for winds up to 20 mph, which is a little inconvenient when paddling into the wind. I wouldn’t want to be in a canoe on a windy day; a kayak is a little easier to push down the river. It was actually easier to paddle upstream instead of into the wind, so I’m sure it slowed us down a bit. The upside is to get anywhere on a windy day you have to paddle, which makes it an exercise float and we made good time anyway.

campbell bridge, meramec river

Campbell Bridge access

ducks, meramec river

Ducks chasing the boats

meramec river, kayaking

Just down from the put-in we caught up with a group in a raft on the shore. They had been feeding some bread crumbs to a group of ducks. The ducks saw us approach and assumed we had food too. They chased us around for a few hundred feet. I haven’t ever seen wild ducks get that close to a boat, but I guess these guys had been living the campground life all summer and were used to humans. Other than the ducks, wildlife was kinda sparse on this trip. I think it’s the first trip all year we didn’t see any blue herons.

meramec river bluffs

Bluff along the river

meramec river bluff

meramec river, bluff, birds

Vultures circle the bluffs

We passed Blue Springs campground and access on the left side of the river, as well as the spring branch the campground is named for. Blue Springs isn’t very big and the water coming in didn’t look much different from a creek, but it was very cold. We soon came upon some picturesque bluffs and it seemed every other bend had a tall bluff on one side. I had never seen so many bluffs in a single float on the Meramec. At the first bluff a group of vultures were circling and flying in and out of a small opening near the top.

meramec river turtle

Turtle sunning on a log

meramec river, kayaking

meramec river, kayaking

There were quite a few turtles sunning themselves on logs and rocks. We saw a large softshell as well as the common river turtles. As the day heated up we shed our outer layers and contemplated a swim. The temperature was in the upper 70s and breezy. I decided to take the plunge anyway. I think it was warmer in the water than out in the wind! I used some turtle logic and sunned myself dry on the bank and it wasn’t so cold after that.

Scott and I switched boats halfway through the trip. He wanted to try mine out. Scott & Megan both have a Wilderness Systems Pamlico kayak. The Pamlico is quick and maneuverable, but the cockpit is very open leaving lots of room for water to get in the boat and there wasn’t much storage area. It reminded me a lot of my old red Perception, a good, affordable beginner boat with no extra frills. Scott’s dog Yadi enjoyed the extra room on the top of my kayak. He could even lay down on the front! When we switched our boats back Yadi stayed in mine for while. He surprised me when he could see the faster water coming and dove into the cockpit before we hit the ripples. A dog that reads water, who knew!

meramec river bluffs

shiba inu, meramec river, kayaking

Yadi test rides my kayak

sappington bridge, meramec river

Sappington Bridge access

We took off the river in late afternoon at Sappington bridge, a conservation access on Hwy D near Sullivan, MO. We then drove the long back roads to shuttle our stuff back to Scott’s car at the put-in and parted ways. DW and I routed a new back way home from Bourbon. It was a perfect end to the holiday weekend.

Critter Count: Ducks, Kingfishers, Turtles

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One Response to “Float #22: Meramec River”

  1. mike valdez November 6, 2011 at 8:52 AM #

    Hello Lee, I enjoyed the pictures and your story. Well written and informative…who knew turtles had so much to teach us? I will pass this site along to the people around me who love the river. Maybe get you a few more hits. Keep doing what you are doing and I will check in regularly. Thanks for caring enough to want to make this a better world. Mike V.

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