Archive | December, 2013

2013: Year in Review

30 Dec

2013 was an exciting year for us with many new stretches of river and a fun trip east to float some whitewater. Here is a look back at all we did in 2013.

Float Stats*

Number of trips in 2013: 33

Number of rivers floated: 20

Miles paddled: 411 (almost 100 miles more than last year!)

Best critter sighting: 2 muskrats on the Big Piney

Best bonus prize: Length of barge rope found on the Mississippi (it’s now our dogs’ favorite toy)

* these stats do not include DW’s MR340 trip

Best Photos

My favorite photo from each trip this year.

Big River

Big River in January

Mississippi River, Commerce Rock

Commerce Rock, Mississippi River

Courtois Creek

DW on Courtois Creek

Big River

A cloudy day on the Big River

Little Piney Creek

Easter weekend on Little Piney Creek

Huzzah Creek

A log jam portage on Huzzah Creek

Charlie runs a rapid on the Mineral Fork

Charlie runs a rapid on the Mineral Fork

Big Indian Creek

Floating the flood on Big Indian Creek

Meramec River

Meramec River

Flood rapids on Huzzah Creek

Flood rapids on Huzzah Creek

Current River

Current River

Council Bluff Lake

My niece Celia’s first float, on Council Bluff Lake

Jacks Fork River

Boats resting on the Jacks Fork

Gravel bar camping on the Big Piney

Gravel bar camping on the Big Piney

Current River

Upper Current River

Huzzah Creek

Upper Huzzah Creek

Meramec River

A tranquil August float on the Meramec

Me, Cynthia, DW, Chris and Jake rafting the Ocoee River like champs!

Me, Cynthia, DW, Chris and Jake rafting the Ocoee River like champs!

French Broad River

Jake and the Biltmore hotel on the French Broad River

Rafting the Pigeon River

Rafting the Pigeon River

Me shredding the gnar on Double Drop, Tuckasegee River

Me shredding the gnar on Double Drop, Tuckasegee River

DW paddles the falls on the Nantahala River

DW paddles the falls on the Nantahala River

Me and the Smoky Mountains, Fontana Lake

Me and the Smoky Mountains, Fontana Lake

Meramec River

Meramec River

Salt River

Salt River

A large Northern Red snake on the Eleven Point

A large Northern Red snake on the Eleven Point

Beachcombing on the Mississippi

Beachcombing on the Mississippi

Autumn on the Meramec

Autumn on the Meramec

Meramec River

Meramec River

Winter floating on the Meramec

Winter floating on the Meramec

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Float #94: Meramec River

30 Dec

Robertsville State Park to Pacific

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Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Saturday, December 28
11 Miles

Looks like that float in November wasn’t the last trip of the year after all! This past Saturday, DW and I did not have any plans and the weather was looking good with highs in the upper 50s and sunshine all day. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get one last float trip this year. It has been almost two months since our last trip, so we were suffering float withdraw! We dropped our truck at the Pacific Palisades access and drove to the boat ramp at Robertsville State Park; our boats were on the water by 10:15. The temperature was still rather chilly and I felt like a toddler in a snowsuit, all bundled up and hardly able to move.

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A Bald Eagle watches me from a sycamore

A Bald Eagle watches me from a sycamore

DW breaks up ice on Calvey Creek

DW breaks up ice on Calvey Creek

Approaching Fish Trap Rapid

Approaching Fish Trap Rapid

Fish Trap Rapid

Fish Trap Rapid

A couple of miles down from Robertsville is Calvey Creek, a large creek that comes in on the right side of the river. Just before the creek we saw a Bald Eagle flying upstream. He stopped in a sycamore overlooking the water and watched us float by. We saw another Bald Eagle, not far downstream from the first one. I noticed that Calvey Creek was still frozen over, so we paddled into it to break up some ice. Ice breaking is one of DW’s favorite winter activities. The ice was a couple of inches thick and broke off into large rafts. Just past Calvey Creek is a rocky riffle called Fish Trap rapid. There’s not much to it, but it does make for a fast little run on an otherwise flat and slow paddle.

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Erosion: it can happen to you

Erosion: it can happen to you

The perfect blue sky and calm water made for a lovely, relaxing day on the river. We saw a couple other people in john boats and several people on the riverbanks enjoying the sunshine, but we were the only paddlers. As we approached Catawissa we saw several river cabins. One of them had not been built on solid ground and was slowly tumbling into the water. Another flood or two and it will be washed downstream.

Approaching the railroad bridge

Approaching the railroad bridge

A train crosses the river

A train crosses the river

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Six miles from Robertsville is the Catawissa access. If you don’t know it’s there you will miss it, as there is no ramp or sign. Catawissa access is a lake that drains into the river on the right side. Directly after the access is the St. Louis – San Francisco Railroad bridge. As we passed under the bridge I heard a train horn, so we waited around for a few minutes as the train passed overhead. Three more miles downstream is the Hwy. F bridge in Pacific, a sign that our trip is almost over. There aren’t many gravel bars on the lower section of this float. There is a large gravel bar right before the bridge, but it is surrounded by houses and a lot of people; not a good spot for lunch.

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The bluff over Pacific

The bluff over Pacific

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We ended up eating our lunch just before we finished the float. There is a very small island between the highway bridge and where the river bends around Pacific. We stopped there and enjoyed our lunch. There were many deer tracks on this island. I don’t know why they would ford the river just to get to that island, there didn’t appear to be much food on it. I left them my apple core anyway.

A mile later we pulled up to the Pacific boat ramp, just as two other kayakers were putting on. It was only 3pm, so there was a couple hours of daylight left for a short float. These paddlers had a large black lab that rode on the back of one of the kayaks. That dog must be well-trained and the paddler must have good balance!

DW bought me a new camera for Christmas, a Olympus Tough. It is waterproof, so no more clunky waterproof camera housing for me! I took all of these photos with it and I think it did a great job. I’m really excited to put it to the test in the coming year. It was a good end to another year of excellent floating. Getting out on the water felt really good after such a long break and the river was beautiful. Now it’s time to crunch those numbers for the year in review!

Critter Count: Ducks, Geese, Herons, Kingfishers, Hawks, 2 Bald Eagles

Float #93: Meramec River

10 Dec

Red Horse to River Round

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Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Saturday, November 9
15 miles

Just as winter began to set in we were blessed with one more warm Saturday with sunny weather and highs in the mid 60s. DW and I set out for a float trip close to home on the Meramec. We dropped the truck at the take out and drove the 10 minutes to our access at Red Horse. The first five miles of this float went by quickly, as the water is swift on that section of the river. As we approached the bend before the highway 30 bridge, the water becomes still and lake-like. Of course that was when the wind decided to pick up as well. It was hard paddling around that corner!

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Hwy. 30 bridge

Hwy. 30 bridge

We saw a large group of ducks on the slow water, there were probably at least 30. As we approached they all flew off down river until we met up with them again. After the Hwy. 30 bridge the water picks up a little bit. There is a large island on the left side of the river. Keep to the right as the left channel is shallow and often full of debris. There aren’t many gravel bars for the next five miles or so and most of the land on either side consists of steep banks and private properties.

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Most of the trees were bare, but the oaks were hanging on to their leaves for a little longer, as they usually do. We stopped for lunch on the first large gravel bar we saw and heated up some leftover chili on our backpacking stove. It was really comforting to have a hot meal on a chilly float trip. I will have to remember to take the backpacking stove more often! We saw lots of birds on this trip, including turkey, hawks and one Bald Eagle. We also saw a buck in the woods. He was busy chasing after a doe and didn’t even notice us!

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Bruns' bridge

Bruns’ bridge

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Eventually we passed under Bruns’ Bridge, an old iron bridge and a modern concrete one. After the bridge the river curves around a large oxbow. The driving distance from Bruns’ Bridge to River Round is less than a mile, but it is about 4 miles of floating. We arrived at our take out before dusk set in and we were back at our house before dark.

Unfortunately this is probably our last float trip of the year. It doesn’t look likely that we’ll be able to get out in December. The weather here is currently below freezing and isn’t going to warm up for the forseeable future. I prefer to have a high temperature of at least 45˚ to float! Perhaps after the holidays we’ll be able to get out on the water again. It has been a great year of floating with a lot of new trips. My next post will be the year in review, where I tally our miles and look back on the highlights of the past year.

Critter Count: Herons, Ducks, Turtles, Kingfishers, Hawks, Turkeys, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Deer