Float #30: Meramec River

9 Dec

Sappington Bridge to Meramec State Park

Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Saturday, December 3
7 Miles

Surprise! We managed to go floating in December. This is the first time that’s ever happened. Temperatures topped out at 60˚ The sun was shining when we started, but it quickly clouded over. By the time we finished temperatures were dropping and rain had started to fall. We met up with our friend Charlie at Meramec State Park, dropped a car at the take-out and drove to Sappington Bridge access. I teased DW about taking a swim. I figured if he was going to wear his swim trunks in December he should at least use them properly. He stuck a hand in the water and immediately vetoed my suggestion. The air may have been warm, but that water was COLD!

meramec river, sappington bridge

Sappington bridge access

meramec river

DW shows off his mad style

meramec river

Charlie

meramec river

Winter sky

We put on the river a little before noon. It felt great to get back on the water one more time. There aren’t many warm days in winter that fall on a weekend. Seems like the perfect winter float days are always on a Tuesday when you have to be at work. We saw quite a few turtles sunning themselves on logs. They were easy to miss because they’re all covered in a coat of mud. We saw much more wildlife on this trip than we did in early November. The trees are now completely bare and there is no color in the landscape apart from the sky and the water. There are no more patches of bright color to be found in the woods. Everything is skeletal and stripped down. However, the water is a stunning turquoise blue and you can see straight to the bottom. So different from the Meramec in the summer! All the silt stirred up by motor boats in the summer has sunk back to the bottom leaving the river clean and beautiful.

meramec river, green's cave

Paddling up to Green's Cave

meramec river, green's cave

Green's Cave

meramec river, green's cave

Water flowing from Green's Cave

meramec river, green's cave

The picnic area at Green's Cave

meramec river, green's cave

The boats parked at Green's Cave

meramec river, green's cave

Looking out from Green's Cave entrance

We stopped for a short lunch on a large gravel bar. While there we saw two Bald Eagles. I had spotted a juvenile a few minutes before we stopped. I’m pretty sure we saw the same eagles further down the river later in the afternoon.

Three and a half miles from Sappington Bridge is Green’s cave. Green’s cave is a public cave located within Meramec State Park. It is only accessible by hiking (or bushwhacking in summer) about 5 miles from the Hamilton Hollow area of the park, or by paddling down the river. It is a fairly easy cave with many large formation rooms not too far in. We brought some cave gear with us to explore a bit. However, most public caves in Missouri are closed due to the WNS bat epidemic and so was Green’s as well as most of the caves within the state park. So we just hung out for a while at the picnic area and did not enter the cave.

meramec river

DW wrestles a tent sunk in the river

meramec river

Beaver buffet

After the cave we came upon a few bonus prizes tangled in the brush in the water. First was a half-full gallon of motorboat oil, then we found a crappy old canoe paddle. We surmised that someone had flipped their motorboat. Why else would all this perfectly usable stuff be floating in the brush? Not too much further downriver I saw a scrap of green tent fabric caught up in a rootwad. Upon inspection we found an entire tent, set up with poles included, tangled underwater. There was no way to dislodge it without a sharp knife and potentially flipping the boat. Too bad, because I was really curious as to what could be inside the tent. How did it get there? Did it get washed away in a flood? Did someone leave it unstaked and it blew away? Charlie summed it up by saying, “Somebody had a really bad day!”

Just before we reached the park we spotted 5 Bald Eagles in a group. One of them was a juvenile, which led me to believe that 3 of them were the same eagles we saw earlier in the day. That is the most eagles we’ve seen in a group on the Meramec.

meramec river

Meramec State Park access #1

meramec river

Hwy. 185 bridge

meramec river

DW paddles up to Meramec State Park access #2

We passed the main State Park access on the left side of the river. There is a large parking lot and boat ramp here. We wanted a slightly longer float, so we took out at the second park access two miles downriver. This access is noted on the map, but not advertised within the park. You have to drive all the way to the end, past the main campground and toward the group campground and there is a small access with a gravel ramp. A mile before we took out a cold drizzle started to fall and the temperature dropped. We packed up our gear, ran shuttle and headed back to our house for a hearty beef stew dinner.

Critter Count: Turtles, Herons, Kingfishers, 5 Bald Eagles (1 juvenile)

Bonus Prizes: 1 half-full gallon of motorboat oil, 1 Cheap canoe paddle

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One Response to “Float #30: Meramec River”

  1. mike v December 13, 2011 at 12:05 PM #

    Sounds like a good float…sorry I missed it. Floating in Dec.wearing shorts!!! Wow, that’s very odd. Maybe January will have a nice day or two for a float. Keep up the good work

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