Tag Archives: Eleven Point

Float #148 & #149: Eleven Point River

13 Jul

Greer Spring to Riverton

F90_ElevenPoint

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Saturday, July 1 & Sunday, July 2, 2017
19 Miles
Temperature: Saturday 87˚/63˚, Sunday 88˚/61˚
Wind: Saturday W at 4mph, Sunday SW at 4mph
Water Level: Saturday 4.15, Sunday 4.1 at Bardley gage

Independence Day weekend means Eleven Point float trip, so that’s what we did! We originally planned to do a 3 night trip from Cane Bluff to Myrtle, but there was rain in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday and Cane Bluff access was closed due to flood damage. So we just did our reliable standard from Greer to Riverton. This trip was just DW and me and our dog Ocoee. Since we’ve done this trip so many times before I won’t get into too much detail. More extensive trip reports for this section can be found on the blog. Just type Eleven Point in the search bar and they will come up.

We drove down early Saturday morning and set up a car shuttle with Hufstedler’s. The access at Greer was pretty crowded with people doing the same thing we were. After squeezing our boats and gear through the throng we were on the river by 11am. What a beautiful weekend it was!

Eleven Point River

Tree damage from flooding

Eleven Point River

Who wears short shorts?

Eleven Point River

River bank erosion from flooding

The Eleven Point was hit by the same epic flood that swept the rest of the Ozark Riverways back in late April. There was a lot of tree damage, some eroded banks, and the river had changed course or widened in a couple spots.

We started out our day with some fishing and both caught a few. I hooked a nice trout, but he jumped off the line before I got him out of the water. Those pesky trout tend to do that! DW made himself a really short pair of a swimming jorts (those are jean shorts if you don’t know) for the summer. I find them hilarious and he definitely gets some looks from people. One woman told him he was bringing back the 70s in an authentic way.

Eleven Point River

Me in Turner Mill Spring

Eleven Point River

DW jumps off Blackout Rock

We happened to meet a couple people that we’ve seen on the Eleven Point before. This trip is an annual occurrence for many. We paddled with them for a bit and caught up on life and river stories.

Our first stop was Turner Mill as usual. We dipped in the shockingly cold spring while Ocoee looked at us suspiciously and kept his distance. Ocoee is a smart dog with a good memory and he hates cold water and swimming in general (we may have thrown him in a spring or two before). He looks like a lab, but he’s all beagle at heart.

We traveled at a good pace even though we did not paddle much and mostly fished our way downstream. The river was up a little bit from normal and was moving at a good pace. We stopped at Blackout Rock (not the official name) so DW could dive off of it. It is called Blackout Rock because that’s where you finish your jug of liquor and then pass out before you get to camp. This story was told to us (and illustrated too) by the same people we see on the river every Independence day weekend. It’s a good name!

I saw a river otter on this trip. I’ve seen them on the Eleven Point before, but it is still a rare occurrence. This one popped his head up in the middle of the river and was crunching on some crawfish. River otters are fast and skittish, so I was unable to take a photograph. I don’t think I’ve ever been quick enough to catch an otter on camera!

Eleven Point River

The best campsite

Eleven Point River

Sunset on the river

Eleven Point River

Around late afternoon we started looking for a campsite. There had been rumors that some of the best gravel bars for camping had been washed out, but I didn’t find that to be the case. We were able to snag one of the best ones that we’ve camped at before. It’s a nice gravel bar with plenty of shade and firewood. The gravel bar was still mostly there, but the prime camping area had moved a bit from the original location. We had plenty of time to set up camp and chill out before nightfall. We built a nice fire and watched the sun paint the sky over the river as it dipped below the horizon. Soon hundreds of bats started their feeding and were swooping through the sky and zooming through our campground. I like bats because they are fun to watch and they also eat a lot of mosquitoes (mosquitoes like to eat me).

Eleven Point River

DW teases Ocoee at Boze Mill

Eleven Point River

Rockin’ the rapid at Halls Bay

Eleven Point River

Access damage from flooding

The next morning we slept in pretty late and got on the river sometime after 11am. We both had Monday and Tuesday off work for the holiday and it was so relaxing to have nowhere to be and all day to get there! We did some more fishing and swimming as we made our way downstream. We passed Greenbriar float camp, where we have stayed many times. It appeared to be completely washed out. There used to be a landing and some steps on the riverbank as well as a sign and a nice big sycamore tree. Now it is just a jumble of broken trees and mud. I hope they are able to repair it as Greenbriar was the nicest and largest of the float camps.

We stopped at Boze Mill for our mandatory dip in the freezing cold spring water. There were several people there including a couple locals we have talked with before. After a few dips and a chat we walked back to our boats. The spring was pushing out more water than usual and we were able to paddle our boats all the way to the stone wall. DW played around and surfed the wave coming out of the wall. Ocoee was not amused, as you can clearly see by his grumpy dog face. We then went through Halls Bay rapid which was bigger than usual and we were both thoroughly soaked. Some people were hanging out on the bank observing people coming through the rapid (it’s an excellent spot to watch people flip their boat). They said they’ve seen a lot of people wipe out in the rapid that day and were impressed that DW went through it perfectly while standing up! He is a pretty good canoeist (and a show off).

Riverton access came upon us all too quickly and we pulled off the river around 7pm. The access had its share of flood damage too. Some of the retaining walls had fallen in and there was some significant erosion. All the accesses and camping areas on the Eleven Point had been improved a few years ago so it is sad to see all that nice work destroyed. I hope they can get it repaired in a timely manner.

We left the Eleven Point feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed. It’s our favorite Missouri stream for a good reason!

Critter Count: Hawks, Herons, Turtles, 1 Otter

Advertisements

Float #140: Eleven Point River

24 Feb

Greer to Riverton

F90_ElevenPoint

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Saturday, February 11 – Sunday, February 12, 2017
19 Miles
Temperature: 79˚/50˚, 62˚/36˚
Wind: S at 8mph, N at 10mph
Water Level: 2.8ft. at Bardley gage

The past couple years of blogging I have only been writing trip reports for sections of river I had not previously paddled. However, last year those new trips were pretty infrequent. So for this year I decided to write a trip report for every trip, even if it’s a stretch I’ve done a thousand times. Even though this trip report will not be as extensive as the original report, there is always something different to see. Documenting the weather and water level also gives a good idea of what the river is like at that time of year. So here goes our first repeat trip report!

If you live in the Missouri Ozarks area, you know this February has been unseasonably warm. So warm in fact that DW and I decided to do an overnight float on the Eleven Point, a river we usually reserve for the dog days of summer. We both needed a getaway, but not having time or money for a vacation meant a trip to our favorite Missouri river would have to satisfy our yearning for adventure. Plus, we have never been to the Eleven Point in the winter and we were eager to see how the river would be different without leafy vegetation and hot temperatures. We drove down after work on Friday night and rented a lovely little cabin at Hufstedler’s Canoe Rental. Saturday morning, Mike (owner of Hufstedler’s) shuttled us up to Greer Access. We always enjoy talking with Mike. He is a good person, always fair and friendly, and has extensive knowledge of the Eleven Point river and surrounding area. We were not the only people putting on the river, though we may have been the only ones staying out overnight. Most people appeared to be spending the day fishing.

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

A Bald Eagle takes fight

Eleven Point River

A small spring we’ve never noticed before

Eleven Point River

Old chimney at Turner Mill

Eleven Point River

The mill wheel in winter

Eleven Point River

Turner Mill spring

We pushed off from Greer around 9:30am. The water of the Eleven Point is mostly spring fed. The water level was pretty near the levels I’m used to in the summer and the clarity was about the same as well. Being spring fed, the water is a consistent temperature year-round. It actually felt a little warmer since it was closer to the air temperature. The best part of this trip was all the things we noticed along the river that we’ve never seen before, due to being covered by leafy foliage in the summer months. We noticed a small spring along a bluff, lots of old foundations and a chimney at Turner Mill, and many other foundations, old roads, and old rock retaining walls along the banks.

It is tradition for DW and I to take a dip in the spring water at Turner Mill and Boze Mill, regardless of the weather. We did it this time too. It was no more shockingly cold than usual, just took more time to warm back up. It may have been the earliest I’ve ever going swimming in the year! There were a lot of Bald Eagles on the river. We saw a couple of adult birds and 3 or 4 juveniles.

Eleven Point River

Ocoee – portrait of a happy canoe dog

Eleven Point River

Our lunch spot

Eleven Point River

Sitting in the canoe is so exhausting

Eleven Point River

Our campsite

Eleven Point River

Evening at camp

We stopped for lunch at a popular camp spot that is always occupied in the summer. We spent a while laying in the sun and enjoying the nice weather. As we paddled onward, we noticed several gravel bar campsites had a stack of nice, split firewood waiting for someone to use. We stopped at one such campsite for the night. Whoever that good samaritan was, thank you! It made setting up camp so much easier! We gathered a bit of deadwood too and left plenty of split firewood for the next campers. Our campsite was on an elevated gravel bar just past Whitten. It is a popular spot with plenty of flat space for a tent. Someone had fashioned steps into the slope of the gravel bar with logs and pegs, making the gear haul from shore to camp much easier. It was a pretty fancy spot! The moon was full that night and so bright we didn’t need any flashlights to see by. The next morning we slept in a bit, warmed our breakfast burritos over the fire, packed up and put on the river around 10:30am.

Eleven Point River

DW in Boze Mill spring

Eleven Point River

Me in Boze Mill spring

Eleven Point River

Turtle pile

Eleven Point River

Riding the rapid at Halls Bay

Sunday was about 15 degrees cooler than Saturday. We donned our wetsuits to keep warm. Especially for our dip in Boze Mill spring. That spring is always very cold and the wetsuit helped minimize the initial shock. It was still damn cold though. Halls Bay rapid was just about perfect. The wave was at a good, fully soaking height. Ocoee got completely swamped in the front of the canoe and DW took on a few inches of water. Always a fun spot on the Eleven Point. We reached Riverton Access around 1:30pm. On the last bend of the river I was picking up trash and came upon a small bottle of Jack Daniels. It was nearly full to the brim of with a dark yellow liquid. I held it up and asked DW, “Wadda’ ya think, whiskey or pee?” The only way to know is to open it up, lol! It was whiskey, thankfully. Then at the access I found a bottle half full of Mountain Dew. I tried to convince DW to try my signature cocktail of river trash whiskey and Mountain Dew, but he declined. And he calls himself adventurous!

Critter Count: 5 Bald Eagles, Osprey, Hawks, Kingfishers, Herons, Turtles

Bonus Prize: Bottle of Jack Daniels

Float #106 – 108: Eleven Point River

22 Jul

Cane Bluff to Myrtle

F106_ElevenPoint

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Friday, July 4 – Sunday, July 6
39 Miles

July 4th weekend is always crowded on the river, and I prefer my rivers quiet and pristine most of the time. However, I can’t waste a 3-day weekend sitting at home so what better place to be than the Eleven Point. The Eleven Point is rarely crowded since it is so far from any major city and the water is too cold for most people. The weekend turned out to be beautiful with unseasonal cool temperatures and the water was higher than normal due to recent flooding. I almost wish it had been hotter since the water is so cold!

We were joined by our friend Jake from Nashville to float 3 days on the Eleven Point from Cane Bluff (which is above Greer Spring) down to Myrtle (just above the Arkansas state line). Jake’s brother Jess, his girlfriend Kat, and her dog Nellie joined us for the first two days. We camped at Hufstedler’s on Thursday night and had them shuttle our boats up to Cane Bluff and our car down to Myrtle all for a reasonable price. Hufstedler’s is my favorite outfitter on the Eleven Point and we have been going there for well over 10 years. The camping is cheap, the firewood is free, the rental and shuttle prices are reasonable and the owners are pleasant, hardworking people.

Friday morning we woke up early and broke camp while waiting for Jess and Kat to arrive. They pulled in to our camp right on time, so we got all our gear together to ride the shuttle van up to Cane Bluff. We were unloaded and ready to put on the water by 10:30. Earlier in the week the Eleven Point and surrounding areas were hit with a flash flood and the water was still draining, making the river level higher than normal and a little bit murky. I have never been up at Cane Bluff with the water at that level. It was nice because Cane Bluff can be tricky in the summer and fall and you sometimes have to portage low spots. Not this time! We sailed over places that were normally scraping. However, all the new trees in the river made for plenty of new obstacles. All of them were passable, but it did make things tricky for anyone unfamiliar with this river, or canoe skills in general. One of the things I like best about the Eleven Point is that it can be more challenging than it looks, especially when the water is flowing swiftly!

Eleven Point River

Putting in at Cane Bluff

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

DW, Jake and I brought our fishing poles and put them to work as soon as we hit the water. Over the weekend we caught some smallmouth, bluegill, and plenty of trout. I don’t know if the river was recently stocked with trout, but I have never caught that many here before. We each caught a few nice sized rainbow trout and I caught a brown trout. If we hadn’t been in a blue ribbon area we could have kept them! Kat did some fishing as well and caught her share. Poor Nellie (the dog) sniffed a fishing lure and hooked herself, requiring some emergency nose surgery. She was fine as soon as the hook was out and you couldn’t tell anything had happened.

Eleven Point River

Snake suns on a log

Eleven Point River

Greer Spring

Eleven Point River

Hwy 19 Bridge at Greer

Eleven Point River

Jake’s trout

Six miles down from Cane Bluff, Greer Spring enters the river on the right side. Greer Spring turns the Eleven Point from creek to river. The second largest spring in the state, Greer is beautiful and massive. The spring branch is bigger than the river itself where it meets the Eleven Point. At the time of this trip all the springs were higher than normal due to the rains, and Greer was pumping out an impressive amount of water. I had never seen it that high before! Thus, the waters of the Eleven Point were colder than usual, consisting mostly of fresh spring water in a rush southward, not spending much time warming in the sun.

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Eleven Point River

Turner Mill Spring

Eleven Point River

Jake in Turner Spring

Eleven Point River

Turner access

Just after Greer Spring branch is Greer access off of Hwy. 19. The best reason to put in at Cane Bluff is to see the change in the river once Greer Spring comes in. If you put in at Greer access you will miss it. The river flows quickly from Greer access, through Mary Decker Shoals (a rocky boulder dash) to Turner Mill Spring and access. At Turner Mill the remnants of the old mill and the spring are on the left side of the river and the campground and access are on the right side of the river. The spring flows out of a cave in the face of a bluff just up the hill from the river. It can be reached from a short hiking trail behind the bathroom. The trail is usually flanked by poison ivy, so tread carefully! Turner Spring was also pumping out an impressive amount of water and DW, Jake and Jess plunged in the flow for some hydrotherapy.

We camped just below Turner Mill on Friday night on a small gravel bar that was quite peaceful (except for all the frogs yelling about which one has the sexiest voice). The men gathered firewood, and Kat and I avoided the ticks and poison ivy while setting up our tents. We enjoyed a nice fire and a good meal that evening while we watched the bejeweled sky. The stars are spectacular on the Eleven Point and we saw several meteorites before hitting the bed sometime around midnight. The next morning we broke camp in a leisurely fashion and were back on the water between 10:30 and 11.

Eleven Point River

The jumping rock

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Boze Mill Spring

Eleven Point River

Another snake

Eleven Point River

Campfire

Our second day on the river was spent much in the same fashion as the first; fishing, swimming and a couple of stops along the way. The next access down from Turner Mill is Whitten. Whitten is often very crowded on the weekends and a popular spot for locals to park their campers and hang out. Between Turner and Whitten is a large rock on the left side of the river that is one of DW’s favorite for diving. Usually the rock is about four feet out of the water and a bit difficult to pull up beside and climb up. This time it was only a couple of feet out of the water and looked so small compared to normal. We stopped here for a bit while everyone took their turns diving into the deep waters. The rest of our day was leisurely up until the last couple of miles. The river slows down somewhat after Turner and there are more long lake-like pools between the swift bends.

We stopped at our favorite spring on the Eleven Point, Boze Mill. There were a lot of people so we didn’t stay long, but we did take our turn dipping into the large spring fed pool. Usually the water coming our of Boze Mill is breathtakingly cold, but it was definitely warmer and cloudier this time. I guess it was pumping out rainwater mixed in with the spring water, still colder than the river though! Right around the bend from Boze Mill is Halls Bay Chute, a class 2 or 3 rapid and the largest drop on the river. When you approach this rapid stay on the left side of the river, as the right is usually shallow and full of rocks. This time the water was so high you could get over the rocks with no problem. I was afraid the water would be high enough to blow out the rapid, making it much less exciting. However it was more fun than usual. The wave at the bottom of the drop was much bigger than normal. A wall of water broke over my boat and filled the cockpit while thoroughly soaking me. Jake was right behind me as we turned into the eddy to bail out our kayaks. Next came Jess and Kat, who filled their canoe with about 6 inches of water but made it through without spilling. DW made it through with a little less water in the canoe. After I bailed my boat I continued downriver behind everyone else and passed Jess & Kat being rescued by a couple of helpful locals in a jon boat. Apparently, they had decided to bail their boat in the worst possible spot, against a tree, and swamped the entire canoe. Luckily with DW and the jon boat’s help they were able to salvage it before the canoe sank entirely. I sprinted downriver to pick up their yard sale (spilled items). Jess & Kat took it in stride and no one was any worse for wear.

Just before we reached Riverton access we came across another swamped canoe being rescued by a jon boat. This one was jammed underwater against a downed tree that had fallen across the main channel. So the lesson here is: swift water + tree = a bad time. Jess and Kat took off the water at Riverton, where we ran into the couple who had been in the other swamped canoe. They were a bit shaken up, as they had been sucked under the tree when their boat capsized. Luckily, everyone was ok, but they didn’t seem interested in floating again any time soon. We said our goodbyes to Jess & Kat and DW, Jake and I headed downstream to find a camping spot for the night. Within the next half hour we came upon a large gravel bar that had washed into the forest with plenty of firewood and flat spots for our tents. Another excellent night of camping was had with a much bigger fire than the previous evening.

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

The fattest turtle

Eleven Point River

The next morning dawned a little bit overcast as we groggily stumbled from our tents. We heated our breakfast and broke camp, getting back on the water around 10. The section of the Eleven Point down from Riverton to Myrtle is much less popular, but worth doing. There are several springs and it is usually a peaceful float. I saw a lot of turtles, some of them soft shell, and many birds. This section is not entirely within the National Scenic Riverway, so there are more signs of civilization and some riverside cabins. We only saw a couple other people the whole day, as almost everyone takes out at Riverton.

Eleven Point River

Morgan Spring

Eleven Point River

Blue Spring

Eleven Point River

Hwy 142 bridge

Eleven Point River

Myrtle access

About nine miles from Riverton is Morgan Spring float camp on the right side of the river. Float camp is used generously as it is literally one campsite with a stone table, fire ring and lantern post. But it is a beautiful spot right on the bank of the spring branch. It is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, and this time there was a tree blocking the spring branch. We managed to wriggle around it and paddle up the spring branch a little bit. Around the corner from Morgan Spring is Blue Spring (one of many Blue Springs in the state). This Blue Spring is the eighth largest in Missouri and well worth checking out. There is a footpath somewhere on the bank that leads to an overlook, but I don’t know where that is exactly. We usually paddle up the spring branch to check it out. With all the newly fallen trees it was quite a bit of work to get up the spring branch. We sent DW in first. If he could maneuver that fully loaded canoe between branches, so could we in our little kayaks.

After exiting the spring we passed under Hwy. 142 bridge. There is an access just before the bridge on the left side of the river. We stopped on a gravel bar and ate lunch just around the bend. The sky was beginning to get stormy looking and we could hear thunder in the distance. Luckily, the rain missed us and it was soon sunny again as we paddled down to Myrtle. Myrtle access is on the right side of the river, one mile before the Arkansas state line. We pulled off the river around 3:30, loaded our gear and headed back to Riverton to pick up Jake’s van. On our way home we stopped at Stray Dog BBQ & Pizza in Van Buren for some excellent pizza and wings, which is our little tradition for the end of an excellent Eleven Point trip. We all had a great time. Floating the Eleven Point always soothes my soul and I feel quite refreshed after a weekend spent on the chilly spring-fed waters.

Our next major float trip will be in Minnesota as we are headed there for vacation. Out of state floats are always a fun new adventure and Minnesota loves floating as much as Missouri does, so I’m looking forward to it!

Critter Count: Blue Herons, Green Herons, Yellow Crowned Night Herons, Hawks, Snakes, Turtles, Deer, 1 Mink

Float #90: Eleven Point River

16 Oct

Greer to Riverton

F90_ElevenPoint

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Saturday, September 28
19 miles

This trip was our annual wedding anniversary float. We usually take a couple days and do an overnight float, but this year schedules and weather did not permit for such luxuries. Instead, we decided to try and float as much of the river as we could in one day. Last summer we floated Greer to Riverton in two days, but we knew it was feasible to do it in one if we didn’t dawdle too much. We camped at Hufstedler’s Canoe on Friday night and woke up early on Saturday morning to catch our shuttle to Greer. We were geared up and on the river before 10am. It was a nice day, but too cold to swim in the Eleven Point’s chilly waters.

F90_01

Mary Decker Shoals

Mary Decker Shoals

DW squeezes through the shoals

DW squeezes through the shoals

We paddled the first five miles to Turner access in about an hour. The river flows at a pretty good pace between Greer Spring and Turner. There is a spring and an old mill wheel on the South side of the river at Turner. We usually stop there when the weather is hotter to wade in the shockingly cold spring water. This time we skipped it because we had a lot of miles left to cover!

A large Northern Red snake

A large Northern Red snake

F90_05

Float Camp

Float Camp

As the day wore on the sky became overcast, but did not threaten rain. We stopped for lunch on a gravel bar and hung out for a little bit. There weren’t too many people on the river that day, but we did see several canoes and fishermen. I would have liked to fish, but there isn’t much time for that when you are paddling all day. We passed a bunch of float camps on the left side of the river. There aren’t many gravel bars on the Eleven Point, so there are several primitive camping areas to make up the difference.

Boze Mill Spring

Boze Mill Spring

Boze Mill

Boze Mill

Boze Mill

Boze Mill

At around 3pm we arrived at Boze Mill Spring, one of my favorite places in the Ozarks. I like to come here at least once a year and take a dip in the freezing water. It’s good for my health and keeps me young! The spring is beautiful and full of so many colors. There is a short trail, a few campsites and the ruins of some old mill equipment here as well. We spent about half an hour here wandering around after our dip in the cold water. After Boze Mill, Halls Bay rapid is just around the corner. It is the most exciting rapid on the river and I always look forward to it.

DW surfs Halls Bay rapid

DW surfs Halls Bay rapid

Hwy. 160 bridge at Riverton

Hwy. 160 bridge at Riverton

As you approach Halls Bay rapid you will see a long piece of string dangling from a tree branch out over the rapid. That string marks the position of a big rock in the middle of the water. As long as you go on either side of the string you will miss the rock. Don’t go too far to the right, however, because the water is shallow and very rocky on that side of the river. We spent some time here while DW surfed his kayak and played around in the rapid. Leaving Halls Bay, there is only a couple of miles to the Riverton takeout. We finished our trip around 5:30pm, loaded our gear onto the truck and headed back up to Hufstedler’s to camp. It was a fun trip and I wish it could have been longer!

Critter Count: Herons, Kingfishers, Hawks, Turtles, 1 Northern Red Snake

Float #47 & 48: Eleven Point River

27 Aug

Greer to Riverton

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12
19 miles

Every year we try to float the Eleven Point around my birthday in mid-August. This year it just happened to coincide with the annual Perseid meteor shower and a St. Louis Adventure Group float trip. Rather than do the trip on our own we decided to join the SLAG overnight trip, meet some new people and watch the meteors with them. DW took the canoe this time and I took my kayak. This way we were able to pack as much gear as we wanted without worrying about space or weight. Taking the canoe also gives DW some practice on maneuvering the “gear barge” all by himself, a task he thoroughly enjoys. We also took our fishing gear for the first time in a long time. I had never fished from a kayak before, so it took a little adjusting, but was a lot of fun in the end.

DW and I headed down to Hufstedler’s campground on Friday afternoon. We set up a minimal camp, ate dinner and met some SLAGers. We hit the tent early and woke up early to get a good start on the weekend’s float. Hufstedler’s shuttled everyone and their gear to Greer access. DW and I paddled upriver to the bridge and did some fishing while everyone else geared up and pushed off.

Eleven Point River, Greer Access

Greer Access

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River, Mary Decker Shoals

Mary Decker Shoals

Eleven Point River, Turner Spring

DW tests the waters at Turner Spring

Eleven Point River, Turner Spring

Turner Spring

Eleven Point River

The Eleven Point is a spring-fed river and the waters are some of the coldest in the state. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit chilly with highs in the upper 70s, which made swimming uncomfortable. We usually don’t have a problem with it being too cool in August, but we really can’t complain too loudly since the temperatures have been so hot most of the summer. I managed to go swimming once or twice and DW dunked himself in Turner Spring; waters that are too cold for me even in the hottest weather.

We spent a lot of time fishing and drifted along at the back of the group, catching up to them as they made gravel bar stops. I almost caught a rainbow trout, but it jumped off the hook right as I was about to reel it all the way in.

We passed Whitten access, which is scheduled to be closed for renovations for the remainder of the season. The park service is adding updated campsites and improvements. DW took a few dives off of the jumping rock near Whitten. Even though the Eleven Point still has plenty of water in it, we did notice it was down about a foot. Even the springs were a little lower than normal.

There was one tricky spot above Whitten where a tree trunk leans out into a narrow river channel. The combination of the fast water, tree obstacle and the eddy made for a lot of overturned boats. I made it through just fine as my kayak maneuvers quickly in tight spots. DW made it through also, but nearly missed an important paddle stroke that was the difference between floating through smoothly and capsizing. Luckily, there were some people hanging out on the gravel bar that were helping the capsized boaters.

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

DW dives off the jumping rock near Whitten

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Shoving off Sunday morning

Sometime in the early evening we all pulled up to a large gravel bar to camp. There were 33 people in the SLAG group, so finding a large gravel bar was a blessing. The Eleven Point is known for its lack of large gravel bars. There are several float camps tucked into the woods, but none of them are very large. Luckily, this gravel bar had a great view of the sky to watch the meteors. We saw so many huge shooting stars that looked like comets themselves! We didn’t even stay awake for the peak of the shower, which is after midnight and mostly in the early, early morning hours. Since there is a fire ban throughout Missouri due to the drought, we didn’t have a roaring fire to keep us warm. The only way to fight off the night chill was to burrow into a sleeping bag in our cozy backpacking tent. The next morning we all broke camp, packed up our gear and headed toward Riverton. Even though DW and I were some of the first boats on the water we were soon at the back of the pack again. Fishing while floating will do that.

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River, Boze Mill

Boze Mill Spring

Eleven Point River, Boze Mill Spring

Boze Mill Spring

Eleven Point River

A Green Heron hunts for lunch

Eleven Point River

Snaaaakke!

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River, Riverton

Hwy. 160 Bridge at Riverton

Sunday was much more cloudy and slightly cooler than Saturday. We got a few sprinkles in the morning, but not enough to get us wet. We decided to fish and not paddle until Boze Mill, which was about 4 miles down from our campsite. DW caught some small mouth bass, but nothing big enough to keep. We stopped at Boze Mill and took a couple dips in the freezing spring water. It was really cold, as usual, and the lack of sun did not help. However, swimming at Boze Mill is something we do every time we go to the Eleven Point and it cannot be skipped because of chilly weather! After Boze Mill we went through Halls Ferry rapid. The water level was down enough to not be tricky and I think everyone made it through just fine. After that we floated and fished the rest of the way to Riverton. We saw a beaver along the banks and a huge snake swimming on top of the water. It may have been a rattlesnake, as we’ve seen one or two on this river before, but I can’t be sure. After getting to Riverton we loaded our gear and headed to Van Buren for pizza and wings at Stray Dog BBQ. The next weekend we did another overnight trip on the Current River that was equally as much fun. Too bad all my weekends can’t be spent this way!
Critter Count: Blue Herons, Green Herons, Kingfishers, Bats, 1 Beaver, 1 Water Moccasin, 1 huge unidentified snake

Bonus Prizes: 2 cooking skillets left on a gravel bar

Float #26 & 27: Eleven Point River

20 Oct

Cane Bluff to Myrtle

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Friday, September 30 – Saturday, October 1
39 Miles

After leaving the Current River we arrived in Riverton at Hufstedler’s campground just before dark. DW booked a cabin for the night, which gave us a chance to take a shower and sleep in a real bed! We cooked a simple dinner of pork chops and sweet potatoes, played a couple rounds of Farkle (a dice game) and turned in rather early. The next morning we loaded the gear back up, and headed to Cane Bluff for two days of floating the Eleven Point. Loading the gear into the boats went much quicker this time and we were packed up and on the water before 10am. Cane Bluff is just about as high up on the Eleven Point as you can go in normal water. In high water you can go 9 miles up to Thomasville, but we’ve never had a chance to do that. I’ve heard there are several small springs above Cane Bluff which would be neat to explore in the future. Even with slightly higher water levels for autumn, Cane Bluff to Greer was a scraping section with many tight turns and tree obstructions. I had to portage my boat a few times. We had done Cane Bluff access last summer and it seems the spring floods of 2011 had put many more trees into the river on this section. The main reason to put in at Cane Bluff is because you can float past Greer Spring. If you put in at Greer access you are downstream from the spring and never get to see it.

cane bluff, eleven point river

Cane Bluff access

eleven point river, greer spring

Greer Spring

hwy 19 bridge, eleven point river

Hwy. 19 bridge

eleven point river

eleven point river

Above Turner Mill access

When we got to Greer we paddled up the into the spring, which is rather difficult as Greer has a powerful flow. It is a beautiful spring branch with very cold water and many plants growing on the bottom. It’s not feasible to paddle up very far as the branch is shallow and fast. Our hard work paid off though; we saw 3 river otters playing in the spring branch. They did acrobatics in the water and swam around in a blissful state. As soon as one spotted us it gave a warning whistle and they all quickly swam into their den on the bank. What lucky creatures to live in the most beautiful spring in the state, swimming all day without a care in the world!

We paddled back out to the river and continued on our journey. We stopped at Greer access for a quick break then floated through Mary Decker Shoals. The water wasn’t quite as high as it had been when we floated back in August, so a few more rocks were showing in the shoals. We came up on Turner Mill quickly, but did not stop. The temperature was pretty chilly and the water even colder so neither of us wanted to swim. After Turner we floated past a beaver chewing sticks on a log jam in the middle of the water. It didn’t seem to mind us at all, just stared at us as we passed and then continued with its work. We ate a quick but relaxing lunch on a scenic bend in the river. I could have stayed there all day, but we still had quite a few miles to cover.

eleven point river

Ducks take off downriver

eleven point river

DW dives off the jumping rock

eleven point river, greenbriar float camp

Greenbriar float camp

eleven point river, greenbriar float camp

Greenbriar float camp

Between Turner and Whitten there is a jumping rock on the left side of the river. We always stop here so DW can dive off it. Even though it was still chilly he wanted to dive anyway. He made one jump and then was done; the water was too cold! The rest of the day was just a lot of paddling. My arms and shoulders were feeling fatigued by our third day on the water and DW was feeling a little tired as well. The miles seemed to go by slower as our arms became more tired. We saw two bald eagles in the afternoon. I heard one of them calling and I thought, “That sounds like an eagle, but I don’t see any,” then one flew over the hill into sight. We then spotted another one sitting in a tree.

Our halfway point was Greenbriar float camp, which we reached around 5pm. The Eleven Point has several float camps along the river because gravel bars can be sparse. We had never stayed at a float camp before so it was a new experience. Most of the float camps are standard National Forest Service backcountry campgrounds. Greenbriar had 5 or 6 camp sites, two with picnic tables and metal fire rings. The other sites had rock fire rings and no tables. The best part is the open-air pit toilet. It’s basically one step up from a hole in the ground. It is a three-sided wooden box about 5 feet high with a lidded pit toilet inside. Not much privacy or shelter from the elements. We had the whole campground to ourselves though, so we didn’t have to share it with anyone. We picked the site closest to the river, unloaded our boats, carried everything up to the site and set up camp. DW spent some time collecting firewood while I set up the tent. We made dinner and drank some beers around the fire before turning in for the night. Very early in the morning DW heard a deer walking into camp. It snorted a bunch and threw a loud hissy fit when it found humans occupying its favorite acorn buffet (acorns had been raining down on us all evening).

eleven point river

Early morning fog

eleven point river

eleven point river, boze mill

Boze mill spring branch

eleven point river

The next morning we broke camp and loaded the boats back up. Greenbriar is 3 miles up from Halls Bay Chute (the biggest rapid on the river). We’ve never gone through it on a cold morning before, so that was a little nerve-wracking. You can’t get through Halls Bay without getting wet. We put on our kayak skirts and splash jackets and hoped it went smoothly. Fortunately, neither of us tipped but DW put a lot of water in his boat and a big wave somehow went up my sleeve and soaked my entire left arm. Just before Riverton there is another rapid that has been getting bigger this past year. A series of rolling waves flows over an old tree stump. It doesn’t look nearly as exciting as Halls Bay, but it’s very splashy and will get you wet! DW put even more water in his boat on that one. We stopped at Riverton to buy ice from Hufstedlers and empty the boats of water and excess gear. They hadn’t shuttled our car to Myrtle yet so we used the opportunity to load all the overnight gear back into the car. This was our last day on the river, so why carry all that extra stuff?

eleven point river

A falcon rests on the river bank

eleven point river

Deer drinking from the river

eleven point river

Last chance rope swing

With significantly lighter boats we paddled away from Riverton. We have only floated down from Riverton once a few years ago, so this section of the river is not as familiar to us. The water was quick and there were not as many large slow stretches as above Riverton. We saw a lot of wildlife on this stretch; a falcon resting on the bank, a deer drinking from the river and 3 more bald eagles high on a hill. We stopped for a leisurely lunch around 2pm on a deserted gravel bar. There were even less gravel bars down here than upriver. Even though it was Saturday we didn’t see a single person on this stretch of river!

eleven point river, blue spring

Blue Spring

eleven point river, blue spring

DW climbs the bluff at Blue Spring

eleven point river, blue spring

Blue Spring

There are two springs on this stretch, Thomasson Mill Spring and Blue Spring. Both are on the right side of the river. Thomasson Mill Spring is up Frederick Creek and Morgan Creek float camp is here also. We paddled up the creek a little bit, but it soon became too narrow and obstructed to continue. A mile down from there is Blue Spring. This spring branch is much shorter and easy to paddle into. There is a large bluff on the left with a narrow ledge you can jump from. DW took the opportunity to jump in the spring, despite the chilly temperatures. The boil is right next to the bluff and it’s pretty cool to paddle over it and look down into the depths of the spring. On the right there is another spring branch that is much smaller. We walked up it a bit but it became overgrown with plants, many of which have sharp leaves that will cut your ankles to shreds (a lesson we learned earlier in the trip on the Current). I’ve read that Blue Spring is connected to Thomasson Mill Spring and I bet the branch on the right leads there.

eleven point river, hwy. 142 bridge

"Goodbye Small Town" Hwy. 142 bridge

eleven point river, myrtle access

Myrtle access

After Blue Spring we passed Hwy. 142 access and bridge. On the side of the bridge someone had spray painted “Goodbye Small Town”. By far the tamest thing I have ever seen written on a bridge! We had never floated past Hwy. 142, so the last few miles of the river were new to us. Myrtle access is literally 1 river mile from the Arkansas border and the scenery really started to look like Arkansas too. The hills are taller and the river more populated with private homes. We finally reached our take out around 6pm. We were tired and glad to be done paddling, but also sad that the trip was over. Since our first overnight kayak adventure was such a success we plan to do it every year. We loaded everything up and headed to Van Buren for pizza and wings at Stray Dog BBQ (our favorite post-float eatery) and then drove home. On the drive we talked about our float plans for next year. We are hoping to branch out into new territory in the Central and Southwest Missouri Ozarks and hopefully hit some rivers in Arkansas as well. There is one more float in October and maybe a couple in November if the weather holds. The end of float season is such a downer, but there’s always next year!

Critter Count: Turtles, Ducks, Kingfishers, Blue Herons, 2 Falcons, 5 Bald Eagles, Osprey, 1 Deer, 1 Beaver, 3 River Otters

Float #21: Eleven Point River

2 Sep

Greer to Riverton

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Saturday, August 27
19 miles

We finally made it to the Eleven Point this past weekend. This is our favorite river in the state and we usually go at least twice a year, but this year has been hectic and the summer almost slipped by without a visit. We headed down to Hufstedler’s campground on Friday afternoon. Hufstedler’s is in Riverton, which is a tiny village with a river access, camp store, campground and outfitter. We have been frequenting Hufstedler’s for many years and they always treat us well. The campground usually has free firewood which is a big bonus!

We set up camp, cooked dinner, had a couple drinks and hit the hay so we could wake up early and get on the river. With only one day available to float we wanted to do as many miles as possible and decided to do the 19 miles from Greer to Riverton. This trip covers most of the highlights of the Eleven Point and is a reasonable day float if you get started early. Going on a trip with just the two of us makes everything more flexible; we can adhere to our own schedule, start as early as we want and we never have to wait for anyone but ourselves. We awoke at 7am and our boats were in the water at Greer access by 9:30. The largest spring on the Eleven Point is Greer Spring and it joins the river just above the access. The water here is very cold! Greer Spring has a .9 mile hiking trail descending 250 ft. in elevation. The trailhead is off Hwy. 19 across from the campground and river. It’s well worth the trip if you’ve never been before.

greer access eleven point river

Early morning on the river

Mary Decker Shoals

Looking upriver at Mary Decker Shoals

As we paddled down from Greer a thick fog was still burning off the water. Everything looks more mysterious with the fog. We can hear the water rushing over a rapid ahead but can’t see anything more than 10 feet in front of the boat. Within a half hour the fog cleared and the sun rose above the ridgeline. We spotted a bunch of wildlife within the first few hours. A raccoon was digging for food along the bank. We floated right up to him and he just stared back at us and continued his morning chores. It was nice to see a raccoon in its natural habitat instead of eating the birdseed off my porch. Later we saw a bald eagle flying downriver and a bat flying upriver after a long night out. We soon floated past Mary Decker Shoals which consists of a line of rocks in the middle of the river. In low water Mary Decker can be a real scraper. Fortunately the water was up a bit for August and we glided right through. The outfitters tend to make a big deal of Mary Decker Shoals, always telling people to watch out for it, but unless it’s flood water or you’re a really bad canoeist it’s a pretty easy obstacle.

turner mill, eleven point river

Turner Mill Wheel

eleven point river

Turner Mill Spring

The mouth of Turner Mill Spring

DW immerses himself in the spring

Rock wall at Turner Mill

Shortly after the shoals is Turner Mill access. There are boat ramps on both sides of the river here. Turner Mill South was recently renovated to include an expanded campground and an additional boat ramp. This is a popular put-in for floating to Riverton. Turner Mill North is less popular as it is harder to get to by road, but it’s easy to paddle across the river from the south access to walk up to the spring. Turner Spring comes gushing out of a small opening in the bluff and tumbles down to the river. The water here is much colder than the river. Standing in it for a few minutes numbs your legs; it’s so cold it hurts! A grist and sawmill was in operation here from the late 1890s through the 1920s. All that’s left of it are a large mill-wheel and a rock wall. There was once a small community here by the name of Surprise, which had a post office and a school. The town didn’t last long and no one was left by the 1940s.

eleven point river

eleven point river

DW dives off the jumping rock

eleven point river

After Turner there are several float camps on the left side of the river. The Eleven Point does not have many gravel bars suitable for camping so the National Forest Service provides some small, primitive campgrounds through the middle section the river. About 6 miles from Turner is Whitten access. This access has a primitive campground and boat ramp. But be warned, Whitten is a popular local hangout and they tend to dominate the campground every weekend. Unless you’re from “around here” or well versed in Ozark culture you won’t be invited to the party. Halfway between Turner and Whitten a large rock with a small tree growing on it juts out of the river on the left side. We call this the jumping rock and we always stop so DW and whoever else can jump into the deep water. Our dog Zoe used to  jump off this rock when she was a young pup. Across from the jumping rock is a good gravel bar for camping. The bank is steep but there is plenty of flat ground at the top. When camping along the Eleven Point be sure to armadillo-proof your campsite. Those bastards are everywhere. They wait until dark falls and come shuffling up to your site, making a bunch of noise and scaring the crap out of you. Armadillo’s can’t see well and are oblivious to humans until they get right up to you. They are harmless but annoying when you’re trying to sleep and they’re scratching up the forest floor looking for food.

Boze spring, eleven point river

Boze Spring

boze spring, eleven point river

Underwater at Boze Spring

boze spring, eleven point river

Mill Dam at Boze Spring

boze spring, eleven point river

Boze spring from the dam

Near the end of the trip is our favorite spot on the river, Boze spring. This is another spring that ran a grist mill in the late 1800s. The dam and some parts are scattered at the end of the spring branch. There is also a float camp here, which is one of the most popular on the river. Boze spring is rumored to be over 80 ft. deep before it becomes too narrow for humans to dive further. The water is crystal clear with turquoise blue depths and is numbingly cold. Boze is a popular swimming hole and good people watching too. It’s always fun to sit and watch first-timers yelp when they dive into the cold spring. You can see where the water boils up in the middle of the hole, which is where the coldest of the cold water lies. Back in the 80s there used to be a tree with a rope swing over the boil. Unfortunately the tree fell into the spring a long time ago, but everyone still likes to talk about it. When we stopped by for a swim there were a couple local farmers sitting by the spring watching people swim and drinking apricot brandy. We each took a swig when offered and concluded that apricot brandy really hits the spot after a dip in the cold water.

DW surfs Halls Bay Chute

Hwy. 160 Bridge at Riverton

Around the next bend from Boze is the best rapid on the whole river, Halls Bay Chute. Keep to the left for this one as the right is studded with sleepers (rocks lurking just below the surface that will tip you). Halls Bay is a good class II rapid and can sometimes get up to class III in high water. It’s also a good spot to stop and watch people tip over. There is always someone camped out on the gravel bar for this reason. Since the water was up a bit the rocks were covered and the run was easy, even for canoes. There is a rope hanging from a tree at the beginning of the drop. Hit it straight at the rope or to the left for the best waves. After Halls Bay it is an easy 3 miles to the take out at Riverton. We were off the river around 6:30, sooner than we expected. We packed up our gear and went back to camp to eat dinner and pass out in front of the fire. The next morning we broke camp and went back to Boze spring to swim again. Swimming at Boze the morning we leave has become tradition for us. It’s hard to get in that water first thing in the morning, but I never regret it. Dive in and repeat until your body becomes a tingling numbness and your mind achieves a zen-like state. I am convinced that if you could jump into this spring every morning of your life you would live forever. Although there isn’t much difference between the Eleven Point and heaven itself.

Critter Count: Blue Herons, Green Herons, Kingfishers, Ducks, Turtles, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Raccoon, 1 Bat