Float #26 & 27: Eleven Point River

20 Oct

Cane Bluff to Myrtle

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Friday, September 30 – Saturday, October 1
39 Miles

After leaving the Current River we arrived in Riverton at Hufstedler’s campground just before dark. DW booked a cabin for the night, which gave us a chance to take a shower and sleep in a real bed! We cooked a simple dinner of pork chops and sweet potatoes, played a couple rounds of Farkle (a dice game) and turned in rather early. The next morning we loaded the gear back up, and headed to Cane Bluff for two days of floating the Eleven Point. Loading the gear into the boats went much quicker this time and we were packed up and on the water before 10am. Cane Bluff is just about as high up on the Eleven Point as you can go in normal water. In high water you can go 9 miles up to Thomasville, but we’ve never had a chance to do that. I’ve heard there are several small springs above Cane Bluff which would be neat to explore in the future. Even with slightly higher water levels for autumn, Cane Bluff to Greer was a scraping section with many tight turns and tree obstructions. I had to portage my boat a few times. We had done Cane Bluff access last summer and it seems the spring floods of 2011 had put many more trees into the river on this section. The main reason to put in at Cane Bluff is because you can float past Greer Spring. If you put in at Greer access you are downstream from the spring and never get to see it.

cane bluff, eleven point river

Cane Bluff access

eleven point river, greer spring

Greer Spring

hwy 19 bridge, eleven point river

Hwy. 19 bridge

eleven point river

eleven point river

Above Turner Mill access

When we got to Greer we paddled up the into the spring, which is rather difficult as Greer has a powerful flow. It is a beautiful spring branch with very cold water and many plants growing on the bottom. It’s not feasible to paddle up very far as the branch is shallow and fast. Our hard work paid off though; we saw 3 river otters playing in the spring branch. They did acrobatics in the water and swam around in a blissful state. As soon as one spotted us it gave a warning whistle and they all quickly swam into their den on the bank. What lucky creatures to live in the most beautiful spring in the state, swimming all day without a care in the world!

We paddled back out to the river and continued on our journey. We stopped at Greer access for a quick break then floated through Mary Decker Shoals. The water wasn’t quite as high as it had been when we floated back in August, so a few more rocks were showing in the shoals. We came up on Turner Mill quickly, but did not stop. The temperature was pretty chilly and the water even colder so neither of us wanted to swim. After Turner we floated past a beaver chewing sticks on a log jam in the middle of the water. It didn’t seem to mind us at all, just stared at us as we passed and then continued with its work. We ate a quick but relaxing lunch on a scenic bend in the river. I could have stayed there all day, but we still had quite a few miles to cover.

eleven point river

Ducks take off downriver

eleven point river

DW dives off the jumping rock

eleven point river, greenbriar float camp

Greenbriar float camp

eleven point river, greenbriar float camp

Greenbriar float camp

Between Turner and Whitten there is a jumping rock on the left side of the river. We always stop here so DW can dive off it. Even though it was still chilly he wanted to dive anyway. He made one jump and then was done; the water was too cold! The rest of the day was just a lot of paddling. My arms and shoulders were feeling fatigued by our third day on the water and DW was feeling a little tired as well. The miles seemed to go by slower as our arms became more tired. We saw two bald eagles in the afternoon. I heard one of them calling and I thought, “That sounds like an eagle, but I don’t see any,” then one flew over the hill into sight. We then spotted another one sitting in a tree.

Our halfway point was Greenbriar float camp, which we reached around 5pm. The Eleven Point has several float camps along the river because gravel bars can be sparse. We had never stayed at a float camp before so it was a new experience. Most of the float camps are standard National Forest Service backcountry campgrounds. Greenbriar had 5 or 6 camp sites, two with picnic tables and metal fire rings. The other sites had rock fire rings and no tables. The best part is the open-air pit toilet. It’s basically one step up from a hole in the ground. It is a three-sided wooden box about 5 feet high with a lidded pit toilet inside. Not much privacy or shelter from the elements. We had the whole campground to ourselves though, so we didn’t have to share it with anyone. We picked the site closest to the river, unloaded our boats, carried everything up to the site and set up camp. DW spent some time collecting firewood while I set up the tent. We made dinner and drank some beers around the fire before turning in for the night. Very early in the morning DW heard a deer walking into camp. It snorted a bunch and threw a loud hissy fit when it found humans occupying its favorite acorn buffet (acorns had been raining down on us all evening).

eleven point river

Early morning fog

eleven point river

eleven point river, boze mill

Boze mill spring branch

eleven point river

The next morning we broke camp and loaded the boats back up. Greenbriar is 3 miles up from Halls Bay Chute (the biggest rapid on the river). We’ve never gone through it on a cold morning before, so that was a little nerve-wracking. You can’t get through Halls Bay without getting wet. We put on our kayak skirts and splash jackets and hoped it went smoothly. Fortunately, neither of us tipped but DW put a lot of water in his boat and a big wave somehow went up my sleeve and soaked my entire left arm. Just before Riverton there is another rapid that has been getting bigger this past year. A series of rolling waves flows over an old tree stump. It doesn’t look nearly as exciting as Halls Bay, but it’s very splashy and will get you wet! DW put even more water in his boat on that one. We stopped at Riverton to buy ice from Hufstedlers and empty the boats of water and excess gear. They hadn’t shuttled our car to Myrtle yet so we used the opportunity to load all the overnight gear back into the car. This was our last day on the river, so why carry all that extra stuff?

eleven point river

A falcon rests on the river bank

eleven point river

Deer drinking from the river

eleven point river

Last chance rope swing

With significantly lighter boats we paddled away from Riverton. We have only floated down from Riverton once a few years ago, so this section of the river is not as familiar to us. The water was quick and there were not as many large slow stretches as above Riverton. We saw a lot of wildlife on this stretch; a falcon resting on the bank, a deer drinking from the river and 3 more bald eagles high on a hill. We stopped for a leisurely lunch around 2pm on a deserted gravel bar. There were even less gravel bars down here than upriver. Even though it was Saturday we didn’t see a single person on this stretch of river!

eleven point river, blue spring

Blue Spring

eleven point river, blue spring

DW climbs the bluff at Blue Spring

eleven point river, blue spring

Blue Spring

There are two springs on this stretch, Thomasson Mill Spring and Blue Spring. Both are on the right side of the river. Thomasson Mill Spring is up Frederick Creek and Morgan Creek float camp is here also. We paddled up the creek a little bit, but it soon became too narrow and obstructed to continue. A mile down from there is Blue Spring. This spring branch is much shorter and easy to paddle into. There is a large bluff on the left with a narrow ledge you can jump from. DW took the opportunity to jump in the spring, despite the chilly temperatures. The boil is right next to the bluff and it’s pretty cool to paddle over it and look down into the depths of the spring. On the right there is another spring branch that is much smaller. We walked up it a bit but it became overgrown with plants, many of which have sharp leaves that will cut your ankles to shreds (a lesson we learned earlier in the trip on the Current). I’ve read that Blue Spring is connected to Thomasson Mill Spring and I bet the branch on the right leads there.

eleven point river, hwy. 142 bridge

"Goodbye Small Town" Hwy. 142 bridge

eleven point river, myrtle access

Myrtle access

After Blue Spring we passed Hwy. 142 access and bridge. On the side of the bridge someone had spray painted “Goodbye Small Town”. By far the tamest thing I have ever seen written on a bridge! We had never floated past Hwy. 142, so the last few miles of the river were new to us. Myrtle access is literally 1 river mile from the Arkansas border and the scenery really started to look like Arkansas too. The hills are taller and the river more populated with private homes. We finally reached our take out around 6pm. We were tired and glad to be done paddling, but also sad that the trip was over. Since our first overnight kayak adventure was such a success we plan to do it every year. We loaded everything up and headed to Van Buren for pizza and wings at Stray Dog BBQ (our favorite post-float eatery) and then drove home. On the drive we talked about our float plans for next year. We are hoping to branch out into new territory in the Central and Southwest Missouri Ozarks and hopefully hit some rivers in Arkansas as well. There is one more float in October and maybe a couple in November if the weather holds. The end of float season is such a downer, but there’s always next year!

Critter Count: Turtles, Ducks, Kingfishers, Blue Herons, 2 Falcons, 5 Bald Eagles, Osprey, 1 Deer, 1 Beaver, 3 River Otters

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: