Archive | December, 2012

2012: Year In Review

31 Dec

2012 was a great year for floating despite the hot summer and persistent drought. We floated many great stretches of river and were joined by lots of good friends. Here is a look back at 2012.

Float Stats

Number of trips in 2012: 30

Number of rivers floated: 10

Miles paddled: 316

Best critter sighting: 5 Otter on the Current River

Best bonus prize: Red milk crate (DW uses this crate to haul trash every trip)

Best Photos

meramec river

River Fuel – Meramec River

Meramec River

Hamilton Hollow Trash Cleanup – Meramec River

huzzah creek

The Narrows – Huzzah Creek

Buffalo River

Easter on the Buffalo River

DW, Charlie and me

DW, Charlie and me at Wappapello Lake

Meramec River

Eaglets in their nest – Meramec River

Meramec River

DW at Bruns’ Bridge access – Meramec River

North Fork

North Fork River

Bryant Creek

Bryant Creek

Meramec River

DW and his trash barge – Meramec River

Current River

Powder Mill access – Current River

Gasconade River

Riddle Bridge – Gasconade River

Meramec River

Pacific Palisades access – Meramec River

Eleven Point River, Mary Decker Shoals

Mary Decker Shoals – Eleven Point River

Current River

Current River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Juvenile Bald Eagle – Meramec River

Current River

Current River

Big RIver

Big River

Big River

Approaching the old mill in Cedar Hill – Big River

Big River

Private Dam at Byrnesville – Big River

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Float #60: Big River

21 Dec

Cedar Hill to House Springs

F60_Big

Big River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, December 15
10 miles

For the first time ever, we have accomplished two floats in December! I don’t know whether to thank global warming or our membership in St. Louis Adventure Group, but they both played a big part in pulling this off. The same organizer that hosted the previous Big River trip scheduled another trip on the next section downriver. The first weekend it was scheduled got rained out. The second weekend our organizer, John was too sick to float. So, DW offered to lead the trip and John ran shuttle for us. It was a very small group, just DW, me and Mike, a SLAGer we just met that day. We met up at Cedar Hill access where we took out last trip. The weather was a little breezy but fairly warm with highs near 60˚, a good day for a float.

Big River, Cedar Hill access

Cedar Hill access

Big River

Waiting to push off at Cedar Hill

Big River

Big River

Big River

We pushed off a little before 10am as the clouds started to break up and the sunshine came through. We chatted with Mike getting to know each other and paddled downriver. This section of the river has fewer houses than the Morse Mill to Cedar Hill section. The first couple miles were long, slow stretches with some small riffles in between. The river then slowed down a lot. There is a rock dam about halfway through this section which makes the river deep and slow for a few miles. Luckily the wind was at our back for the most part. It would not have been a good day to paddle a canoe. I brought my fishing pole and cast a few times before we got on the river, but once we started paddling it was too windy.

Big River

Big River

Big River

Private Dam at Byrnesville

Big River

Big River

Old Byrnesville bridge

We reached the dam just after lunch. You can hear the water tumbling over the rocks as you approach. There is an easy portage all the way to the right of the dam. We spent a little while here admiring the view. I could not find much information about this dam on the internet, but I did learn the dam was built in 1836 from logs and rocks and it still looks much the same today as when it was built. The building on the left bank is the old Byrnesville Mill. The foundation appears to be original, but the mill’s facade has been rebuilt to look more like a residence. It is a very scenic area.

Big River

Big River

Big River

Hwy. W bridge

Big River, House Springs access

House Springs access

After the dam the water speeds up a little bit, but soon slows again. There is another dam near House Springs, after our take out that slows the water. We paddled the last few miles in exercise mode and finished our float by 2:30. It was a very pretty day on the river with the sun and clouds painting a scenic sky and the bright sycamores on the banks. It think this is the last float of the year (unless we get lucky the last weekend of the month). I will be writing a quick retrospective next week to sum up the year. Have a great holiday everyone and I hope Santa leaves you some cool paddling gear in your stocking!

Critter Count: Hawks, Ducks, Kingfishers, Pileated Woodpecker

Bonus Prize: One frisbee

Float #59: Big River

14 Dec

Morse Mill to Cedar Hill

F59_Big

Big River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, December 1
11 miles

December float trips are hard to come by. Between the unpredictable weather and holiday obligations it’s hard to find a good day on the weekend to hit the river. So when a Big River float trip popped up on our Meetup SLAG (St. Louis Adventure Group) calendar we grabbed the opportunity. This is a section of the Big River we’ve not done before. We usually stay closer to the middle section of the Big River and have never done float trips on the lower section.

We met up with our group on a sunny morning at Morse Mill County Park. Morse Mill is the former site of a mill dating back to the 1800s. It is also known for the Morse Mill Hotel, a haunted hotel with an interesting past. Most of the group drove the short 6 mile shuttle while I and a couple others waited at the put-in with the boats. On this trip there were mostly kayaks and one canoe. Our friends Charlie and Scott (and his dog Yadi) joined us as well as some other SLAG adventurers we’ve floated with before.

Big River, Morse Mill

Morse Mill access

Big River, Morse Mill

The old bridge at Morse Mill

Big River

Big River

A heron rookery in a sycamore tree

At the start of the float the river runs through a residential area that provides a scenic tour of the garages of Jefferson County. After a mile or so it tapers off into farmland. There wasn’t a whole lot of trash on this part of the river. There were some rootwads and fallen tree trunks that had collected bottles and other bits, but not a lot of stuff on the river banks. We found a couple of rubber balls suitable for dog toys in one of the rootwads.

The water was relatively calm. Quite a few nice little ripples followed by stretches of slow water. We didn’t see much wildlife; a hawk, a group of turkeys and some ducks. Someone on the trip saw a bald eagle, but not me.

Big River

Big River

Big River

Big River

As the day progressed the clouds moved in a the wind picked up a little bit. Thankfully, it was mostly at our backs. The landscape is in full winter mode now. The water is clear and full of dark blue and gray colors. The hillsides are brown and gray with bright white sycamore limbs jutting out over the water.

Big River

Approaching the old mill in Cedar Hill

Big River

DW surfs the ripples at Cedar Hill access

We finished our trip at Cedar Hill; taking out at another old mill. There is a nice little chute right before the take-out that was fun to run. We were all loaded up by 4:30 and headed into Cedar Hill to eat at a BBQ place. It was a pleasurable way to spend the day and we added a new section of river to our list! Surprisingly, we have another Big River float with the same group planned for this weekend.

Critter Count: Hawks, Ducks, Turkey

Bonus Prizes: 2 rubber ball dog toys