Float #125: Gasconade River

19 Jun

Mitschele  to Schlicht Springs


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

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