Float #31: Meramec River

1 Mar

Spanish Claim to Red Horse

Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Wednesday, February 22
20 Miles

Welcome back! It’s time to kick off the second year of the Fllog with a favorite local Meramec trip. Even though this winter has been mild, there have not been many sunny, warm days without gusty winds we were available to float. DW and I have been itching to get on the water in the previous two months, so we took the day off work in the middle of the week for some much-needed float therapy. We were joined by our friend Rob, who has perpetually lent us his Old Town kayak. We awoke before dawn, packed up, ran shuttle and were on the river before 10am.

meramec river

Spanish Claim access

Spanish Claim access is located within Meramec Conservation Area off of Highway K. Last year when we did this float, the parking lot had been upgraded and looked much more official. This year we noticed the trail to the river has been cleaned up and cleared of downed trees. No more Sycamore trunks to drag the boat over!

meramec river

Bluffs at Meramec Caverns

meramec river

Stairway to the river

I was hoping to see a Bald Eagle on this trip, but no such luck. We did see a lot of Hawks, which is cool, just not as cool as a Bald Eagle! We actively paddled the first few miles of the trip, passing Meramec Caverns soon after putting in. They were installing new cables on the zip lines, which looked rather complicated. We also passed an impressive stairway leading from a house on top of the hill down to the river. A mile or so after the Caverns, we stopped on a gravel bar for a snack and to enjoy the beautiful day.

meramec river

meramec river, roaring spring

Roaring Spring

meramec river

River fuel

meramec riverThroughout the day the clouds came and went, causing me to constantly change layers of clothing. It was so warm and perfect when the sun came out, and so gloomy and chilly when the clouds rolled over! We stopped at the small cave on the left just above Roaring Spring. Since Rob had never done this float before, we wanted to give him plenty of time to explore the area and plenty of practice getting in and out of a kayak without wetting his shoes. Last fall I invested in a pair of waterproof boots from LL Bean. It was money well spent. I can now laugh at everyone trying to spare their toes from the getting wet as I gleefully leap out of the boat into 10 inches or less of freezing water!

meramec river

Lunch stop on a gravel bar

meramec riverWe stopped for lunch around 1:30 and probably spent too long relaxing. We paddled a little harder toward Plum Ford, which is 5 or 6 miles from the take out. DW spent time gathering trash along the banks until all the trash bags were full. We found a small feed bucket in like-new condition as well as another water cannon, although we’ll have to wait for warmer weather to test it out. I also saw an old toilet up on the bank, but DW didn’t seem keen to carry it downriver. He never goes for the trash I point out! When we reached Plum Ford the day was getting late and the sun was getting low. Time to paddle for real!

meramec rivermeramec riverAs the sun started to set, the sky to the west turned dark with an approaching cold front. It made for the most beautiful, ethereal light. The sycamore trees were lit with a golden glow, set against a dark, brooding sky. It almost didn’t look real. No time to gawk, paddle harder! I noticed a couple large bird nests on the bank before sunset. They looked a lot like Eagle nests, but no Eagles were around. About two miles before the takeout it started to get very dim and the last half hour of paddling was in the dark. Of course I had forgotten a flashlight, but luckily we’ve paddled the mile upriver from Red Horse so often that we know it in the dark. DW packed up the boats while Rob and I ran shuttle and met back at our house. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and we felt quite relaxed and at ease afterward. I am looking forward to another float season and the return of summer. One gets so tired of the relentless gray and brown of winter!

Critter Count: Turtles, Ducks, Geese, Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Hawks

Bonus Prizes: One small feed bucket, One water cannon

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