Float #116: Meramec River

26 Jan

Castlewood State Park to George Winter County Park

F116_Meramec

Meramec River
St. Louis County, Missouri
Sunday, January 18
11 Miles

Our first float of the year kicked off on a warm weekend in January. We floated the next section of the Meramec down from Castlewood State Park, which is where we left off last year. Our friends Richard and Jake joined us for this stretch. After this float we only have one section of the Meramec left that we have never done.

We met up at Castlewood around 10:30am. DW, Richard and Jess ran shuttle while Ocoee and I waited with the boats. Ocoee got to say hello to lots of dogs and kids, so he wasn’t too bored with the wait. We set off shortly before noon with sunny skies, a slight breeze and mild temperatures.

Putting in at Castlewood

Putting in at Castlewood

Meramec River

Chocolate Milk Stout: Winter's Kayaking Beer

Chocolate Milk Stout: Winter’s Kayaking Beer

Hwy. 141 Bridge

Hwy. 141 Bridge

There are a lot of bridges on this stretch. The first one we crossed under is Hwy. 141. There is a gravel bar on the left side that makes a swift curve and a nice little rapid leading up to the bridge. It was the only swift water we encountered on this stretch. DW headed straight for the wave and got soaked (of course)! Luckily it wasn’t too cold so he was fine.

Meramec RiverMeramec RiverMeramec River

Floating is such hard work!

Floating is such hard work!

We stopped for lunch on a bank that was covered with flat rocks (and ice). Many of the rocks had fossilized shells in them, so we spent a while looking for some cool fossils and enjoying the sunshine. When we finished lunch it was about 2pm and we decided to actually paddle for a bit instead of just floating along with the current. With the days being shorter in winter you really can’t dawdle too much if you want to get off the water before dark.

I-44 Bridges

I-44 Bridges

Meramec RiverMeramec RiverMeramec RiverThe river takes a right hand turn just before running under interstate 44. This section of water was slower and wider than the previous few miles. Though you can see the bridges right away it takes a little while to actually get there, as the distance is longer than it looks. Then it is another long, slow mile or two to reach the Hwy. 30 bridge in Fenton. Immediately after that is the Fenton city bridge. There are a lot of houses and some businesses right along the river in Fenton, but it soon gets a little more woodsy after you pass the city. We saw a couple of large flocks of geese right before we got to our takeout. Ocoee perked up a bit when they took flight, but he didn’t let it disturb his lounging too much.

Pulling in to Winter Park

Pulling in to Winter Park

Icebreaking to the takeout

Icebreaking to the takeout

Richard walks on (frozen) water.

Richard walks on (frozen) water.

George Winter County Park is on the right side of the river just after you pass Fenton. There is a small lake that feeds into the river. DW mentioned that the lake was kinda frozen when he dropped the truck there in the morning, but he thought the sun should have mostly melted it by now (ha, ha)! Of course it was still pretty frozen. DW and Richard decided to try and break through the ice with their boats. Jess and I drug our boats along the edge of the lake, which was about 6 inches of boot-sucking mud between the ice and some scrubby trees. I don’t know which option was better as we arrived at the boat ramp about the same time. Although I was much more muddy.

Just as I pulled my boat up the ramp, Ocoee decided to walk on the ice right on the edge of the water and of course he fell in. He was only in the water for a second, as he quickly leaped out onto the boat ramp. Lucky for him he has labrador fur and didn’t seem too fazed by the cold.

The sun was just beginning to set as we exited the park and headed back to Castlewood to get Jess’ car. This float was pretty uneventful, but it felt good to get one more section of the Meramec off our checklist. The only section we have yet to do leads into the Mississippi, so that will hopefully be a little more interesting.

Critter Count: Ducks, Geese, Hawks

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