Float #115: Cache River

2 Dec

Lower Cache River Trail

F115_Cache

Cache River
Johnson County, Illinois
Friday, November 28
7 Miles

The Cache River State Natural Area is one of the northernmost cypress wetlands in the country. Located in southern Illinois near the Ohio River, it is only an hour drive from Cape Girardeau, MO. This Thanksgiving weekend we met up with our friends from Cape who were in town for the holiday and paddled this awesome wetland area. The Cache River includes lots of unique flora and fauna (although we didn’t see much of it in the winter) and massive cypress trees, some of which are 1,000 years old. These trees were saplings at the dawn of the Mississippian Indian culture and fully grown trees by the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the western hemisphere. Pretty cool!

DW and I met up with everyone around 10am at the Lower Cache River access. There is no need to shuttle for this float as the river current is so slow you can easily paddle both directions. The day was chilly, but the sun was out so that helped a lot. It was supposed to warm up to 50˚, but I don’t think it ever got out of the mid 40s.

We pushed off from the boat ramp and paddled our way over to see the champion cypress tree. There is a canoe trail through the wetland area that is well-marked with directional signage, so it was easy to navigate and not get completely lost.

Lower Cache River Access

Lower Cache River Access

Cache River

Illinois State Champion Cypress Tree, 1000 years old

Illinois State Champion Cypress Tree, 1000 years old

Cache River

We all hung out around the 1,000-year-old cypress for a little bit, gawking at the size of it. For such an old tree it is in very good shape. Most old trees growing on land around here aren’t much more than 300 years old and they usually have parts of the crown missing or some other damage. I couldn’t see any real damage on this tree at all. We then paddled a bit farther into the swamp, over to a pond that is home to an 850-year-old cypress that has over 200 knees (the knobby roots that stick out of the water), the largest over 11 feet tall!

Cache River

Cache River

Cache River

An 850 year old Cypress with lots of knees

An 850- year-old Cypress and it’s 200 knees

We left the pond and paddled out of the swamp area and into the main channel of the Cache River. The current was so slow that at a glance, you can’t really tell which way is downstream. We paddled up to a small bridge crossing the water and stopped on the bank to eat our lunch. After finishing our meal we paddled back the other direction. The river channel soon became much smaller and there were multiple logs just under the surface of the water. We were able to shove over them, but soon turned around as they were getting more numerous and the day was getting late.

Cache River

Paddling in the main river channel

Paddling in the main river channel

Cache River

Cache River

We paddled back to the swamp area and quickly found a sign with an arrow that pointed us back to the access. It wasn’t too long before we arrived at the parking area and loaded up our gear. This float was a unique experience and something I would love to do again in different seasons of the year. Although I hear it gets pretty buggy in mid-summer, so maybe not then!

Critter Count: Ducks, Geese

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2 Responses to “Float #115: Cache River”

  1. ranschwords December 5, 2014 at 12:08 PM #

    I’ve been waiting for your next one since long-ago October, but I never expected anything like this! I guess I never thought of doing a swampy area, but I found this to be a fantastic experience that enlarged my ideas for the future. Your photography is always the highlight for me, and this one was no exception. I have always also loved the expression of your loves in your writing. This time again, I could appreciate your love for nature and even more, the great respect you have for what we have been given to enjoy. I’m the one who had kayaked for years but finally gave in to the limits of my aging body and bought a twin-electric boat called the Twin Troller X10. It has an exceptional 6″ draft so I can go nearly anywhere, and with the protective grid covering the motors I can ride right over brush, branches, and small logs. If you’d like to take a peek, http://freedomelectricmarine.com/blog/2012/09/twin-troller-x10-introduction/
    (hmm, I couldn’t copy it in as a link). Thanks for your entries. I love them all, and respect you and DW a whole lot. Randy Schuppan O’Fallon MO

    • groovealee December 5, 2014 at 4:49 PM #

      Thanks Randy! I appreciate the feedback.

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