Archive | June, 2015

Float #126: Gasconade River

26 Jun

Hazelgreen to Hwy. 133

F126_Gasconade

Gasconade River
Pulaski County, Missouri
Saturday, June 13
9 Miles

This was another Gasconade float trip, scouting in preparation for the NSS Convention. I am finally back to kayaking after my long recovery from a shoulder injury in April. I was a little nervous that I would get too tired or wouldn’t have the strength in my shoulder to maneuver well, but I ended up doing just fine. This was a very pleasant day for a float trip, that started and ended with sunny skies and a few small rain showers in between. We met with our friend Richard at the Hwy. 133 access. The access is at the site of the old Hwy. 133 bridge, which is no longer there. Heading North on Hwy. 133, cross over the Gasconade River and Bear Creek. Immediately after Bear Creek is a small road on the right. Head down that road and it will eventually dead-end at the river. This is not an official access, but is a popular spot for locals and fishermen. There is limited parking on the edges of the road.

Richard loaded his boat onto our car and we left his truck there and drove up to our put-in at Hazelgreen Access. This is an official conservation access at the old Route 66 bridge. I paddled upstream a little bit to get my bearings. Two months off from kayaking seems like a long time when you’re used to paddling most weekends!

Hazelgreen Access

Hazelgreen Access

I-44 bridge

I-44 bridge

Gasconade RiverThis section of the Gasconade ended up being much faster than most of the other sections we’ve done. The water flowed quite nicely and there were a few ripples. The river was still up a little bit from all the rain we keep getting, but the water was not muddy at all. We saw a lot of wildlife on this trip. There were the usual turtles and assortment of birds, as well as a Bald Eagle and a couple of deer.

A heron hunts for fish

A heron hunts for fish

Gasconade RiverGasconade RiverToward the middle of our trip we got a little wet from some rain showers. It was very spotty, and you could see the rain coming and then paddle out from under that particular cloud and be dry again. Thankfully, it was a warm rain on a warm day, so I just got wet and didn’t even bother with my kayak skirt or rain jacket. We eventually stopped for lunch and a swim and checked our progress. We realized we were knocking out the miles pretty quickly so we slowed down a little bit for the last hour or so of our paddle.

A venue of vultures

A venue of vultures

Hwy. 133 bridge

Hwy. 133 bridge

Approaching Hwy. 133 access

Approaching Hwy. 133 access

Sooner than we expected, the Hwy. 133 bridge could be viewed just around the bend. Since it was only about 2pm, we stopped at a gravel bar and swam for a bit. The water felt nice and refreshing, but not too cold. I saw several fish jumping, but I didn’t bring my fishing pole. It would have been a good day for it and we certainly had the time to kill! After about half an hour we returned to our boats and paddled the last half mile to our take out. Now that the sun was out again, there were several families at the access swimming and having a good time. We loaded up our boats into Richard’s truck and drove back to Hazelgreen to pick up our car. The next float trip we did was after yet another round of flooding with high water on rivers everywhere. We did a quick, muddy float on the Roubidoux, which I will post here soon!

Critter Count: Turtles, Kingfishers, Herons, Hawks, 1 Bald Eagle, 2 deer

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Float #125: Gasconade River

19 Jun

Mitschele  to Schlicht Springs

F125_Gasconade

Gasconade River
Pulaski County, Missouri
Sunday, May 31
14 Miles

We’ve been doing numerous floats on the Gasconade River in preparation for the upcoming NSS (National Speleological Society) Convention being held in Pulaski County in July. DW and I are leading various float trips throughout the convention, and we’ve been trying to find the best section of Gasconade to float that is close to camp. This was one of my first floats since my shoulder injury in April, though I wasn’t ready to kayak yet so we took the canoe. Turns out it was a very flooded trip! It had been raining most of the week, but it looked like we would get a break on that Sunday, so we headed out to Waynesville and camped at Schlicht Springs Conservation Access on Saturday night with our friend Rob and his daughter. There are two primitive campsites near the parking lot and the only amenity is a pit toilet. A lot of people swing through the access in the evening to look at the river, so this isn’t necessarily a quiet spot, but it is convenient.

Sunday morning our friend Richard met us at the campground and we loaded everything onto our Subaru and headed up to Mitschele Access. This conservation access is under Hwy. 7 bridge. There is a narrow gravel road that looks like it leads to a commercial campground, but just keep going toward the river and you will find yourself there. We unloaded everything under cloudy skies while looking at the swollen river. Just as we were about to pull out into the water we saw several large rafts of debris and large dead trees float downstream. We thought perhaps an upstream creek suddenly broke through, or the river water flushed out a rarely used channel. There was no more debris following that bunch, so we figured it was probably a fluke (fingers crossed).

DW mans the canoe

DW mans the canoe

Gasconade RIverGasconade RIverOnce we were on the water it didn’t feel as fast or high as it looked from the bank. DW, Rob’s daughter, Ocoee (our dog) and I were in the canoe and Rob and Richard were in kayaks. The Gasconade is kind of a wider river to begin with and the flood waters increased its breadth, so there is plenty of room to avoid brush and trees. There is supposed to be a low-water bridge about 4 miles down from the access, but the water was so high we didn’t really notice we had floated over it.

Gasconade RIver

Hwy T bridge

Hwy T bridge

Gasconade RIverIt turned out to be a very cold day for the end of May. The temperature was stuck in the mid 60s, which was much cooler than forecast, and there was a persistent heavy mist that wasn’t quite rain but was very damp nonetheless. The river was moving pretty quickly, even if it didn’t feel all that fast. We soon reached the Hwy. T bridge, which is a little over halfway into the trip. There is a primitive access at Hwy. T under the bridge, but you couldn’t really tell since the water was so high. As we approached our take out there were several small bluffs. We saw a few small springs gushing from openings in the rocks. There wasn’t much wildlife out since it was such a dismal, cold day. We did see a few birds of the usual type, kingfishers, hawks and herons.

Gasconade RIverGasconade RIver

We soon reached our take out at Schlicht Spring Access around 2:30. DW had tied a red flag to a tree at the boat ramp, and it was a good thing he did as the ramp was hard to see in the high water. 14 miles of river in just over 3 hours makes for a quick trip! The river had risen about a foot in the time we were paddling. I stayed at the take out with Rob while Richard and DW ran the shuttle. While we waited many people drove down to look at the high water. A couple of local guys stopped and asked us about our float. I told them where we put in and they asked how long the trip took. When I told them it was about 3 hours one of them said to the other, “See, I told you. Let’s get on the river!”

Critter Count: Kingfishers, Hawks, Herons

Float #124: Gasconade River

19 Jun

Schlicht Springs to Hwy. 17 Bridge

F124_Gasconade

Gasconade River
Pulaski County, Missouri
Tuesday, May 5
10 Miles

Guest post by DW. This is another float DW did without me, as my shoulder was still injured.

I met up with our friend Richard at his home in between the put in and take out about lunch time. As we were loading up we found one of the shuttle vehicles had a very leaky tire. So we quickly detoured to a service shop to get that issue addressed and then were off to drop a vehicle at the Highway 17 bridge, which also marks the confluence of the Roubidoux with the Gasconade. Then we headed to the put in which was about a 10 minute drive north on 17 and then a left on Riverside Road.

We prepared the boats and opted to paddle upstream to see if we could find the Schlicht Spring. I found the non-assuming spring branch after passing it up and going another .1 to .2 miles upstream. I hiked it for a short way and quickly determined this is probably better accessed from the road than hiking up, as it was fairly choked with debris. So we turned our boats downstream and continued our journey. This time of year the pollen has been released from various flora and deposited on the surface of the water, giving an illusion of scummy water. The Gasconade River is known for being a slow paddle with very little dominant current which allows for large areas of the water to be pollen covered. The wind was a good 8-12 miles per hour for a lot of the trip, so some stretches of the river were easier to paddle while others pushed us backwards if we were not paddling. The first few couple miles were easy paddling with some bluffs on river left and pastures on the right. This easy paddling continued until we turned the bend to head south. The first 4-5 miles were mainly long slow pools. I spotted a coyote who seemed startled by our presence. He scurried down the gravel bar and out of sight before the gravel bar terminated into the river.

Putting in at Schlicht Springs access

Putting in at Schlicht Springs access

Gasconade RiverGasconade River

Not far after the coyote disappeared from sight we noticed some heavy machinery on the left clearing a lot of ground. Maybe they are putting in a campground or perhaps just cleaning up the property’s river front. After we passed this construction activity an owl flew down from a tree. With only my cell phone for a camera I was unable to get a good shot or zoom in enough to determine which type of owl it may have been.

Shortly thereafter we approached the first somewhat swift water. There was a bit of a ledge to shoot through and a lot of big rocks on the right that had at some point tumbled down from the bluff above. There was a small spring on river right just after swift water, but appeared to be on private property. We actively started to search for a bubbling spring called Creasy spring that is supposed to be just past this area, but only found Battless Mill Spring also on river right just downstream. At the time we thought Battless Mill Spring may have been Creasy spring until we didn’t find another spring down river. There is a wooden X in the tree at the confluence of Battless Mill Spring where it confluences with the river. It is important to note that most of the Gasconade flows through private property and one should generally stay within the main river channel to avoid any trespassing issues. There are specifically stricter laws on the water ways in Pulaski county than there are for the rest of the state.

Gasconade River

Richard smokes next to a gas can

Richard smokes next to a gas can

Gasconade RiverGasconade River

Falling Springs shoals

Falling Springs shoals

Battless Spring branch

Battless Spring branch

Gasconade River

So about a mile after Battless Mill Spring, we saw a 6”-8” fish jump from the water. Almost immediately after that we noticed what we initially thought to be a catfish or maybe a gar surfacing. Within a few more seconds we got a better view as what most likely was a muskrat trying to board Richard’s kayak with a clump of freshly cut grass in his mouth. I guess once he saw Richard was a human and not a log drifting downstream he spit the grass out, dove down deep and disappeared to resurface somewhere out of our view. The wind switched to our back and we completed our 10 mile journey in 5 hours without stopping for any lunch break or swim breaks.

Critter Count: 1 Coyote, 1 Hawk, 3 Herons, 1 Muskrat, 1 Owl