Archive | June, 2012

Float #39: Meramec River

28 Jun

Bruns’ Bridge to Chouteau Claim

Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Sunday, June 3
9 miles

Faced with a warm Sunday full of nothing to do, DW and I decided to do a quick float on the Meramec near home. Unfortunately, our truck is in dire need of a clutch replacement. So now we’re down to one vehicle that can run shuttles. We decided to try a bike shuttle instead. This float is 9 miles long, but the shuttle is less than 4 miles, all on back roads. Perfect for a bike shuttle. DW dropped me and the boats off at the bridge and drove the car to the takeout. He then rode his bike back to the put in (all uphill), locked it to a cable on the old bridge road and we were on our way! This float is a popular one for us, due to its moderate length, proximity to home and short shuttle distance. See Float #20 and Float #1 for more detail on this section of river.

Meramec River

DW at Bruns’ Bridge access

Meramec River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Meramec River

The first few miles of the float are a big oxbow that leads to the River Round access. That’s what gives this longer float a really short shuttle. We saw a few people in motor boats, but no other paddlers until we got to River Round. There is an outfitter on this section of the Meramec, Old Cove Canoe, so we did see a lot of their boats after the main access. They looked to be pretty busy for a Sunday. We saw many people floating in inner-tubes also. The water on this section is perfect for a lazy float if you’ve got some time to kill. The water is pretty deep in the main channel and not too fast or full of obstacles.

We spent most of our time picking up trash and swimming. What had started as a warm, sunny day became cloudy and a bit cooler. DW found an old milk crate that he has since turned into an additional trash receptacle for his kayak. We took out at Chouteau Claim, at the confluence of the Bourbeuse and Meramec. Our gear was barely loaded and strapped down before the rain came in. Lucky for us as we didn’t bring any rain gear. In my experience, the lack of rain gear is the best way to make sure you get rained on!

Critter Count: Turtles, Blue Herons, Green Herons, 1 Coot

Bonus Prize: 1 red milk crate

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Float #38: Meramec River

27 Jun

Woodson K. Woods to Scotts Ford

F4_Meramec

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, May 13
9 Miles

My youngest sister, Abby recently graduated from university. For her gift we threw her a party and took all her friends on a float trip. I took my kayak and DW took the Paddilac (our canoe) out for its yearly float. We loaned our other kayaks to Abby & her boyfriend and got canoes from Adventure Outdoors for her other friends.

We put in at Woodson K. Woods conservation access and floated down to Adventure Outdoors, which is across the river from Scotts Ford conservation access. This is a float we’ve done many times before, so more detailed descriptions can be found in blog posts, Float #4 and Float #19.

Meramec River

Meramec River

River Monster

Meramec River

We saw some cool wildlife on this float, including a really large snapping turtle sunning itself on a rock. I had never seen a turtle that fat before! We stopped for a while at Maramec Springs to swim and eat lunch. There were some Northern Water Snakes chilling in the vegetation where the spring water meets the river, and a large group of Gar swimming around. Not far after the springs we passed the Bald Eagle nest that I have seen every time I’ve floated this section. This time it had a couple of juvenile eagles in it! That was a really cool sight. I’ve rarely seen juvenile eagles, much less sitting in their nest. We saw a couple of adult eagles near there as well.

Meramec River

Maramec Springs

Meramec River

Eaglets in their nest

Meramec River

The Paddilac on a rare outing

Meramec River

The graduate paddler

We got off the river around 4:30. Everyone had a great time and I don’t think anyone capsized. Abby had fun paddling in DW’s kayak and I was happy that all her friends got to share a fun weekend together.

On a less happy note, this float was the last for our beloved lab, Zoe. She passed away of old age last week. Zoe was a dedicated floating enthusiast and our canoe rarely went anywhere without her. She floated with us on many week-long excursions in the Ozarks, swimming all day and sleeping on the gravel bars at night. She was the only witness to the one time we flipped the canoe (an early spring float on the flooded Courtois). We (and our canoe) will miss her dearly, but we have many wonderful floating memories to share.

Zoe

Critter Count: Turtles, 1 fat Snapping Turtle, Herons, 4 Bald Eagles (2 juvenile), Northern Water Snakes

Float #36 & #37: Lake Wappapello

20 Jun

Lake Wappapello State Park

wappapello lake

Lake Wappapello
Wayne County, Missouri
Saturday, April 21 & Sunday, April 22
15 Miles

After spending Friday evening with friends at a great bluegrass concert at the Buckner Brewing Co. in Cape Girardeau, we wanted to spend the rest of the weekend floating. There aren’t many options near Cape Girardeau, other than the Mississippi. Lake Wappapello is a little over an hour from Cape and we had heard it is a really nice area. We headed out Saturday morning and drove southwest through the flat bootheel landscape into the rolling foothills just south of the St. Francois mountains.

Lake Wappapello is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers but also has forest areas, conservation areas and a state park surrounding it. Thus, the lake is free of residential and commercial development along the banks. We set up camp in Lake Wappapello State Park, a small, but nice campground right on the lake shore. After getting settled we drug our boats down to the lake and started to paddle.

wappapello lake

Gearing up at the campground beach

wappapello lake

We puttered around for a bit in the area around the campground before we found the way out to the main channel. Parts of the lake are very shallow and there were areas where our paddles were hitting the bottom. The dam at Wappapello burst during a big flood last spring. So the lake is still in the process of filling up to normal levels. Many of the islands were now peninsulas because there wasn’t quite enough water to cover.

We saw a tree growing a couple hundred yards from shore and tried to paddle over to it. The lake was very shallow all around it. Charlie got out of his boat and walked around in it. It looked like he was walking on water. After a lot of shallow paddling we made our way back to the main channel and then headed back to camp.

wappapello lake

A tree grows in a lake

wappapello lake

Charlie walks on water

wappapello lake

DW, executive paddler

We broke camp the next morning and headed back out for another paddle. This time we went a different direction and circumnavigated a couple big islands. There was a really nice group of campsites on the two islands we paddled around. We pulled over and checked one out. It had a picnic table and lantern post. Pretty fancy for a primitive camp! It would be a lot of fun to camp out on the island overnight. Of course, it would be easier to do it in a motorboat, but with a canoe and a few kayaks, we could haul all our gear from the nearest boat ramp to the island camp without much problem.

wappapello lake

DW, Charlie and me

Once we were three-quarters of the way around the island we decided to paddle over to the dam. Before we could get there, rain clouds started to come in from the west. We looked a them a while, trying to decide if it was going to go north of us or not. We decided to head toward land just to be safe. A few hundred yards out the rain came in suddenly. The wind picked up and whipped the water into waves. We paddled furiously to the island shore, pulled our boats up, flipped them over and ran into the shelter of the woods. The rain came down hard for about 20 minutes and then it was mild and sunny again. We wrung ourselves out and paddled back to camp.

Here comes the storm

Run for it!