Archive | October, 2013

Float #90: Eleven Point River

16 Oct

Greer to Riverton

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Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Saturday, September 28
19 miles

This trip was our annual wedding anniversary float. We usually take a couple days and do an overnight float, but this year schedules and weather did not permit for such luxuries. Instead, we decided to try and float as much of the river as we could in one day. Last summer we floated Greer to Riverton in two days, but we knew it was feasible to do it in one if we didn’t dawdle too much. We camped at Hufstedler’s Canoe on Friday night and woke up early on Saturday morning to catch our shuttle to Greer. We were geared up and on the river before 10am. It was a nice day, but too cold to swim in the Eleven Point’s chilly waters.

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Mary Decker Shoals

Mary Decker Shoals

DW squeezes through the shoals

DW squeezes through the shoals

We paddled the first five miles to Turner access in about an hour. The river flows at a pretty good pace between Greer Spring and Turner. There is a spring and an old mill wheel on the South side of the river at Turner. We usually stop there when the weather is hotter to wade in the shockingly cold spring water. This time we skipped it because we had a lot of miles left to cover!

A large Northern Red snake

A large Northern Red snake

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Float Camp

Float Camp

As the day wore on the sky became overcast, but did not threaten rain. We stopped for lunch on a gravel bar and hung out for a little bit. There weren’t too many people on the river that day, but we did see several canoes and fishermen. I would have liked to fish, but there isn’t much time for that when you are paddling all day. We passed a bunch of float camps on the left side of the river. There aren’t many gravel bars on the Eleven Point, so there are several primitive camping areas to make up the difference.

Boze Mill Spring

Boze Mill Spring

Boze Mill

Boze Mill

Boze Mill

Boze Mill

At around 3pm we arrived at Boze Mill Spring, one of my favorite places in the Ozarks. I like to come here at least once a year and take a dip in the freezing water. It’s good for my health and keeps me young! The spring is beautiful and full of so many colors. There is a short trail, a few campsites and the ruins of some old mill equipment here as well. We spent about half an hour here wandering around after our dip in the cold water. After Boze Mill, Halls Bay rapid is just around the corner. It is the most exciting rapid on the river and I always look forward to it.

DW surfs Halls Bay rapid

DW surfs Halls Bay rapid

Hwy. 160 bridge at Riverton

Hwy. 160 bridge at Riverton

As you approach Halls Bay rapid you will see a long piece of string dangling from a tree branch out over the rapid. That string marks the position of a big rock in the middle of the water. As long as you go on either side of the string you will miss the rock. Don’t go too far to the right, however, because the water is shallow and very rocky on that side of the river. We spent some time here while DW surfed his kayak and played around in the rapid. Leaving Halls Bay, there is only a couple of miles to the Riverton takeout. We finished our trip around 5:30pm, loaded our gear onto the truck and headed back up to Hufstedler’s to camp. It was a fun trip and I wish it could have been longer!

Critter Count: Herons, Kingfishers, Hawks, Turtles, 1 Northern Red Snake

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Float #89: Salt River

10 Oct

Warren G. See Spillway Recreation Area to Corps Boat Ramp

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Salt River
Ralls County, Missouri
Saturday, September 14
7 Miles

DW and I were in the Hannibal area for the weekend and we wanted to check out some northern Missouri floating. The only two options near us were the Mississippi and the Salt River. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend that day and the Mississippi float was 16 miles long. So we decided to try out the Salt. There didn’t appear to be too many access points on the map, so we stuck with a 7 mile float just below the dam. The Salt River runs out of Mark Twain Lake. The section we floated is between two dams, so it was slow and murky.

Gearing up below the dam

Gearing up below the dam

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We floated with our friends Charlie & Greg and Jake came up from Nashville. We also had DW’s friend Bob and his wife, Robin who joined us in their canoe. Bob and Robin planned to fish along the way, but they soon found out their trolling motor was stuck in reverse, so they did a lot of paddling instead. The day was bright and pleasant. Thankfully it wasn’t too hot because the water wasn’t too inviting for a swim. This section of the Salt is basically a river-shaped lake. There was almost no current and not much to see in the way of scenery. We did see plenty of birds, including a fair number of Bald Eagles.

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A Bald Eagle

A Bald Eagle

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We stopped for lunch at a small creek where there was a place to pull up on the shore. There were no gravel bars on this section and the banks were a little steep. We spent about a half hour at lunch and then got back to paddling. It was a good exercise float!

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We finally reached our take-out around 5:30pm. Northern Missouri is much more flat than where I live, but it is pretty in its own way. We loaded all the boats in the trucks and headed back to the put-in to shuffle everyone’s gear into their cars and then we headed back to our campsite. The next float trip is to the Eleven Point, just about the exact opposite of the Salt River!

Critter Count: Hawks, Herons, Kingfishers, Turtles, 3 Bald Eagles

Float #88: Meramec River

4 Oct

Spanish Claim to Red Horse

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Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Sunday, September 8
20 Miles

Our first trip back from vacation was one of our favorite floats close to home. We do this 20 mile stretch once or twice a year. The shuttle only takes about 20 minutes and both access points are within 15 minutes of our house, so we get a lot of floating without much driving. Spanish Claim access is not on any maps, but I will tell you that it is located down a dead-end road in Meramec Conservation Area. You will know you’ve found it when you come to a gravel parking lot and an old concrete silo. To get to the river, you must follow a short trail through the woods and across a large gravel bar.

We had planned to wake up early and hit the water by 9am, but the day started out with rain showers. So we slept in another hour and took our time leaving, in hopes that the rain would move out before we started floating. We finally got on the water around 11am, and it was still raining. It didn’t last long and the sky cleared within the first few miles of paddling.

Morning drizzle

Morning drizzle

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The first half of this float has many long, slow pools which make good exercise. Paddling long distances like this can be very relaxing once you find your rhythm. The swish of the paddle, the soft thunk of the skeg, and the constant trickle of the water gliding under the boat all act like a metronome counting out the time. Finding that sweet spot where the kinetic energy of pulling the paddle back propels you forward for the next stroke. I usually fall into a zen-like state, living in the moment, focusing on my breathing, thinking of nothing. When I finally wake from this meditation I find I’ve paddled a couple of miles in no time at all!

Roaring Spring

Roaring Spring

A Bald Eagle eats his catch

A Bald Eagle eats his catch

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About 4 miles past Meramec Caverns there is a spring on the left side of the river. This is Roaring Spring, which flows out from a small cave entrance in a bluff. On this morning there was a light layer of fog where the cold spring water met the river. Just downstream of the spring a Bald Eagle was eating something on the gravel bar. He eyed us warily and then flew off as we approached. As the day wore on the sun came out and it warmed up enough to swim a little bit. We didn’t stop too many times though. No time to dawdle when you’re covering 20 miles in a day.

Flood debris

Flood debris

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Hwy. K bridge

Hwy. K bridge

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As we neared the end of our float we noticed the river has changed course a bit since last year. We had a few floods this spring and the Meramec got pretty high and stayed up for a few days at a time. There is an island above the Hwy. K bridge where the river switched channels. What was the side channel is now the main channel. There was a lot of wood piled on the bank and a boat with a large hole that wasn’t there before.

We arrived at Red Horse access around 6pm. It was a quiet day on the river and we didn’t see too many people. We had a great time as usual and then went home to fall asleep on the couch.

Critter Count: Turtles, Herons, Kingfishers, Hawks, 1 Bald Eagle

Bonus Prize: A Mizzou mini football