Float #118: Osage Fork

25 Mar

Rader Conservation Access to County Rd. J-687

F118_Osage

Osage Fork River
Webster & Laclede Counties, Missouri
Saturday, March 7
4 Miles

I did not go on this trip, so this post was written and photographed by DW.

We started our day out by evaluating an old dump site on the Osage Fork of the Gasconade for cleanup prior to the upcoming NSS Caving Convention. Once our morning volunteer work was done, Richard and I went in search of a feasible access to the upper Osage Fork. We first scouted the J road bridge at mile marker 9.0 and that was too soft to consider parking, though the water was flowing quite nicely there encouraging the opportunity for upstream access. We continued on J to Morgan and headed down J-687 (Orchid Dr.) to the low water bridge and found that there was no parking near the bridge, but that parking did appear available for a limited number of vehicles just north of the bridge, so we dropped one vehicle off at mile marker 4.3 and continued to Rader Conservation Access to check that out. The access requires you to hand carry the boats and gear down, but is fairly easy to access and only about 20 yards of distance from the parking lot to the river.

The water looked to be flowing nicely at the access so we put on and started our paddle. The upper Osage Fork is much smaller than the lower parts we have done in the past. It is much like a small Ozark creek in nature with a narrow width, clear water, pretty Ozark gravel bottom, and plenty of little twists and turns. As we paddled along we noted a couple of eagles and a heron.

Rader Conservation access

Rader Conservation access

Osage Fork

Ice on the river

Ice on the river

Shortly into the trip we found some iced in coves and played around breaking the ice, an activity I find fun. We broke off some big ice chunks and sent them down river. We did this on a few bends. While Richard was exploring and taking some photographs, I paddled up Panther creek to see what it was like. It was a nice small creek still with decent flow. There was a bluff pocked with a few erosion holes and an animal trail leading to one of them. I paddled back down to find Richard had pushed onward.

Low water bridge at County Rd. 107

Low water bridge at County Rd. 107

Osage Fork

I paddled downstream and found Richard as we reached a low water bridge about an hour into the 4.3 mile float on County Rd. 107 (Auburn Rd.). The water was moving sufficiently to go under the bridge without much issue, albeit it fairly tight fitting with the water levels we had on this day. On the downstream side of the bridge the water constricted through it, making for some fun little waves to go play in. Naturally, I went to play and surf for a while and Richard portaged around the bridge. After a few runs of surfing and wave play, I parked next to the rapid and waited for Richard. For some reason, probably because of my adventurous nature, I took one last run at the rapid and at a poor angle. While I tried to recover my boat from a full flip, I just fell out and swam the boat and myself to shore. Being a 50 degree day I immediately removed as many of my soaking wet layers as possible and started drying them in the sun. While I was having my swimming lesson, Richard was having issues negotiating the portage and also took a swim. So we both had a good laugh and the cold refreshing feeling one gets when taking a dip in a cold Missouri waters. I maintained that refreshing tingle for hours after my swim.

Osage Fork

Access at the J-687 Bridge

Access at the J-687 Bridge

By the time we were getting warmed up from our swim the next low water bridge approached. Richard changed in to dry clothes while I picked up trash, and we then ran our shuttle. While completing the shuttle, we both determined this would be fun to do with more water if a better access can be located above the 28.7 mile marker.

Critter Count: Bald Eagles, Herons, Kingfishers, Turtles

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