Tag Archives: float trip

Float #145: Mulberry River

24 May

Turner Bend to Beneux Bottom

F145_Mulberry

Mulberry River
Franklin County, Arkansas
Saturday, April 15, 2017
21 Miles
Temperature: 85˚/57˚
Wind: SSE at 6mph
Water Level: 2ft. at Mulberry gage

Our second day on the Mulberry river I took my touring kayak again, Jake took one of the whitewater boats and DW took the canoe. Our dog Ocoee rode in the front of the canoe. He behaved better and felt much safer than the first day on my kayak, but he still wasn’t thrilled about that splashy water!

We put in at Turner Bend where we took out the previous day. The second day was a longer float, taking out at Beneux Bottom, further downriver than we have in previous years. DW and Jake ran the shuttle and I had DW drop a pin on my GPS at the take-out. It is not an official forest service access and is pretty difficult to recognize from the river if you’ve never been before. It was a good thing we marked it, because we totally would have passed it up!

Mulberry River

Putting on at Turner Bend

Mulberry River

DW, Ocoee and the Gnar Bar

Mulberry RiverMulberry River

The second day was just as beautiful as the first. We couldn’t have had better weather for this trip. This section of the Mulberry isn’t as tight and twisty as the upper section and has longer pools between rapids, but the rapids are a bit bigger. I was able to get some decent shots going through couple rapids. There are some good wave trains on this section too. I got completely drenched a few times!

Mulberry River

Mulberry River

I love Arkansas!

We saw a lot of Bald Eagles on this day. Three or four adults and several juveniles. I wasn’t able to get close enough to get any good shots though. Halfway through the day I gave DW the camera to get some photos of me and he proceeded to take so many pictures that he killed the battery. Unfortunately I didn’t have my backup battery with me (of course). The one time we saw an eagle on the bank and got close to it was when the camera was dead!

Mulberry River

Jake’s having a good time

Mulberry River

I’m having a good time too

Mulberry River

Ocoee is tolerating it

Mulberry River

View from a canoe

Mulberry RiverMulberry River

The canoe we took on this trip, “Gnar Bar” is one of our rescue boats that we got from an outfitter we do repairs for. It was too far gone for outfitter use, but we welded it back together enough to get a few more years out of it. DW rigged up a homemade spray deck using an old air mattress, some grommets, and rope. It worked ok to keep out the worst of the water, but would have worked better if there was more gear to keep it from sagging, or more grommets to make it tighter. There were some really good waves and I had to bail my kayak a couple times, so we would have been bailing the canoe on every turn without a spray deck!

We made it to our take-out in early evening, loaded up the boats and went back to camp for another excellent dinner and beer around the campfire. As usual our Easter float trip was one of the best of the year and so much fun! Missouri has a lot of diversity and options for float trips, but between the Buffalo and the Mulberry, Arkansas holds the jewels of the Ozarks!

Critter Count: Turtles, Hawks, Muskrat, Herons, Bald Eagles

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Float #144: Mulberry River

24 May

Wolf Pen to Turner Bend

F121_Mulberry

Mulberry River
Franklin County, Arkansas
Friday, April 14, 2017
16 Miles
Temperature: 83˚/60˚
Wind: SSE at 6mph
Water Level: 2.1ft. at Mulberry gage

Every Easter weekend DW and I go floating in Arkansas. We usually alternate between the Buffalo and Mulberry Rivers. This year was the Mulberry’s turn. The Buffalo certainly has the breathtaking scenery and bluffs, but the Mulberry is generally more exciting paddling. This year we were again joined by our friend Jake. He rocked the 7-hour one way drive from Nashville solo. The Mulberry is worth it! We stayed at Byrd’s campground, which has good camping right on the river and an excellent restaurant on-site. It’s nice to not have to cook after a long day of paddling!

We all arrived late Thursday night, set up camp and went to bed pretty promptly. The next morning we awoke early, made breakfast and headed up to our put-in at Wolf Pen.

Mulberry River

Prepping the boats at Wolf Pen

Mulberry RiverMulberry River

I took my Dagger touring kayak on this trip and DW brought both the whitewater kayaks as well as one of our Old Town canoes. This river is great because unless the water is high, it is suitable for almost any human-powered watercraft.

The first day DW and Jake took the whitewater kayaks while I took my touring kayak. We brought Ocoee (our dog) on this trip as I figured the weather would be nice and he could ride on the back of my kayak the first day. I even bought him a snazzy little life jacket as I knew he’d probably fall off in a couple rapids. The rapids on this river aren’t that big, class II at most during normal water levels, and Ocoee rides on the back of my kayak just fine on most of our Missouri streams. This day though, he was not having it. This dog HATES rapids. The very first rapid we encountered he bailed off my boat and refused to get back on. I ended up having to shove him into my cockpit, which is not comfortable for me, as he just barely fits and tries to climb up me every time there is splashy water.

Mulberry RiverMulberry River

Mulberry River

Ocoee stuck in Jump Start rapid

There is an infamous rapid just down from High Bank access called Jump Start. It is where the river flows straight into a rock wall and then makes a 90˚ turn. Last time we floated the Mulberry I was in a whitewater boat and did my first wet exit (where the boat flips upside down and you have to exit, roll over, or drown). So this time, even though I was in my trusty touring kayak, I was determined not to hit that wall again. What makes it doubly tricky is several small boulders and a lot of sleeper rocks as you approach the rock wall. I got hung up on one of the boulders and had to lean into it in order to not flip my boat. Ocoee was not making it easier. I knew I had to get rid of that extra weight to push myself off the boulder, so I threw Ocoee out of the boat into the water, which was all of about 4″ deep. I managed to dislodge my kayak and make the turn without hitting the wall. Ocoee decided he was stuck there in the middle of the river where I threw him out. He wouldn’t come to us and wouldn’t move. There was a couple on the gravel bar watching the action (who wouldn’t, it’s a great spot to watch people eat it). The guy offered to fetch Ocoee out of the stream. As he approached Ocoee decided swimming was a better idea than being grabbed by a stranger. He swam through just fine and continued to be a pain in my ass for the rest of the morning.

We stopped for lunch at our campsite at Byrd’s, which is halfway through the trip to Turner Bend. Neither I nor Ocoee was keen on him continuing the second half of the day in my boat. So I left him at camp, where he slept and chewed his bed in contentment while we continued on without all the doggy drama.

Mulberry River

Rapids

Mulberry River

Jake shreds some gnar

The rest of the day was spent shredding some good gnar on the beautiful turquoise water. We finished up at Turner Bend in the late afternoon and headed back to camp to eat an awesome meal at the campground restaurant and drink some beers around the campfire. No one flipped their boat on the first day!

Float #143: Big Piney River

11 May

Mineral Springs to Boiling Springs

F129_BigPiney

Big Piney River
Texas County, Missouri
Saturday, April 8, 2017
11 Miles
Temperature: 77˚/44˚
Wind: S at 15mph
Water Level: 4.75ft. at Big Piney gage

The Big Piney river is one of my favorites in Missouri. It’s a pretty river with excellent fishing and is usually not too crowded in the summer. This is a float trip we have done before, so if you want more detail about this stretch read Float #129.

We were joined on this float by our friends Lucas & Kristine and our brother-in-law Henry. Lucas & Kristine don’t float with us often, so it was really nice to be with them on the river. It was a sunny day, although a bit too cold for getting in the water.

Big Piney River

Big Piney River

Early to mid-April is probably my favorite time of year for floating in Missouri. Spring is starting to really get going. There is plenty of water in the rivers. Everything is getting green and the flowers are blooming, but the trees haven’t leafed out yet so you can still see into the woods. This section of the Big Piney has some narrow turns and moves at a nice pace. There are spots where the trees form a tunnel over the river so it feels a bit more like a creek.

Big Piney River

We saw the usual array of wildlife. The turtles were out if full force sunning themselves on logs and rocks. We also saw a beaver. He was on the bank, but slipped into his den before I could grab the camera.

Toward the end of the journey Kristine wanted to try out my kayak, so I let her use my boat and I paddled the canoe with Lucas. She had fun in the kayak and did pretty well. Most women I’ve encountered enjoy paddling a kayak rather than stuck in a canoe with their husband! I enjoyed paddling the canoe and decided I should brush up my canoe skills this summer. It’s been a really long time since I’ve manned the back of the canoe and it will be a nice change of perspective.

Big Piney RiverBig Piney River

This float ends at Boiling Spring, which is a mid-size spring that boils out of the main river channel. I have a mandatory policy of jumping into springs regardless of the air temperature. So even though it was kinda chilly I made the plunge. It felt amazing as always. I tell everyone that’s what keeps me young!

Unfortunately Boiling Springs Resort where we camped was completely destroyed by the historic flooding earlier this May. All of their cabins and facilities were washed away or destroyed. It was an epic amount of high, fast-moving water. I’m sure this river will look quite different for the near future.

Critter Count: Herons, Hawks, Turtles, 1 Beaver

Float #142: Courtois Creek

27 Apr

Berryman to Huzzah Conservation Area

F142_Courtois

Courtois Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, April 1, 2017
14 Miles
Temperature: 59˚/40˚
Wind: ENE at 8mph
Water Level: 3.5ft. at Steelville gage

Courtois Creek is always a nice spring float. It tends to get pretty shallow in the summer so you have to hit it up when there has been some decent rainfall. It’s been a few years since we did this river and my sister Emily and her family had never paddled it before. We put in at the Berryman access (Hwy. 8 bridge). Since this is a repeat float I’m not going to get into specifics, but if you want more details, check out Float #63.

Courtois Creek

Berryman Access

Courtois Creek

Tree hazard

Henry navigating the tree hazard

Courtois Creek

Emily paddles Stable Maybel

Courtois Creek

As we put on the river the weather was overcast and a little chilly. Emily and I and the kids waited at the put-in while DW and Henry ran shuttle. Henry paddled “Marge the Barge,” his 19′ aluminum canoe with Celia and Silas. A 19′ canoe is quite the vessel to paddle down the tight turns of the Courtois, but they did just fine. There are a few tree hazards on upper section of this float that you have to duck under or portage around. The first one we had to duck under, Silas didn’t quite listen and bonked his head. He finally got the routine down by then end of the trip though.

Portaging the canoe and the kids

Courtois Creek

Marge the Barge on Wheels

Courtois Creek

The sun comes out!

On this trip we saw a fair amount of wildlife. There was a mink scuttling around on the bank at the put-in. Celia thought it was a hedgehog, so she was close, just the wrong side of the globe for hedgehogs. We also saw quite a few deer; a couple of them were swimming across the river. The usual assortment of birds and turtles were in attendance as well. The sun finally came out in the early afternoon, which made for a much nicer float and really brought out the colors of the water.

Henry’s big canoe is quite heavy and nearly impossible to portage easily. He has devised a canoe dolly from some milk crates with wheels that he attaches to the bottom of the canoe to get it from the car to the river. It also works quite well to get over low water bridges. They didn’t have to unload the kids either!

Celia shows off her paddle skills

Courtois Creek

Confluence with the Huzzah

We stopped on a nice gravel bar for lunch and built a small fire to warm up a bit. We stopped once more to let the kids out of the boat to play a bit. Silas tried his luck at peeing in the woods by himself. It was not a complete success and he had to get rinsed off in the river! Eventually we made it to the confluence with the Huzzah and then to our take-out. A 14 mile float is a pretty long trip for a couple toddlers, but Celia and Silas got out of the boat at the end and ran around the parking lot while we loaded up. So I guess they still had energy to burn! It was a good day on the river and nice to get back to the Courtois before the summer crowds.

Critter Count: Hawks, Herons, Kingfishers, Turtles, 1 Mink, 7 Deer.

 

Float #141: Meramec River

24 Feb

 

Onondaga State Park to Sappington Bridge

F92_Meramec

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, February 19, 2017
15 Miles
Temperature: 75˚/35˚
Wind: S at 9mph
Water Level: 2.85ft. at Sullivan gage

Another warm weekend in February means another float trip! This makes 45 miles so far this year. This trip DW and I were joined by my sister Emily, her husband Henry, and their two children Celia and Silas. Celia and Silas are some of my favorite canoe paddling friends. They are both preschool age and love to help their Dad paddle their big aluminum canoe, Marge the Barge. We all met up at Onondaga State Park at 8am and DW and Henry ran the shuttle to our take-out at Sappington Bridge, while Emily and I waited with the kids. Shuttle for this float takes about an hour round-trip. There are two other accesses we pass along the way (Campbell Bridge and Blue Springs) so there are shorter options on this stretch of river, but we enjoy this 15 mile stretch when we have the whole day to paddle.

Meramec River

Meramec River

Henry, Celia, Silas, and their dog Lucas

Meramec River

Celia and Silas paddle Marge the Barge

The Meramec was beautiful and clear, as it always is in winter. The day started out kind of chilly, but a few minutes after we started the sun came out and it warmed up quickly. We spent the day mostly paddling and picking up trash, with a leisurely break for lunch. No one went swimming, on purpose or otherwise. We didn’t see many other paddlers, but there were several motorboats toward the end of the afternoon. Celia and Silas regaled us repeatedly with their knock-knock jokes (they only know two). There wasn’t much wildlife to see beyond the usual birds. It was an uneventful yet pleasant day on the river, just as it should be.

Meramec River

Meramec River

Emily paddles Stable Maybel

Meramec River

Cave in the bluff

Meramec River

Critter Count: Hawks, Herons, Kingfishers, Turtles

Bonus Prizes: A Yeti Tumbler, a Rubbermaid trashcan and a 5 gallon bucket (with lid)

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 #139: Bourbeuse River

10 Feb

Reiker Ford to Mayers Landing

f139_bourbeuse

Bourbeuse River
Franklin County, Missouri
Sunday, February 5, 2017
11 Miles
Temperature: 58˚/37˚
Wind: WSW at 2.5mph
Water Level: 2.10ft. at Union gage

Hello, and welcome to the first float trip of 2017! Keeping in line with my goals for this year we floated a new-to-us section of river. We finally paddled on the Bourbeuse River after many years of avoiding it. The Bourbeuse is close to my house, but with so many beautiful miles of the Meramec in my area, the Bourbeuse doesn’t get much love. It isn’t the prettiest of rivers and can get very murky in the summer. We figured it would be a good float to hit up in the winter months when the water is clear. We were joined this time by my brother-in-law Henry, and our friend Amy.

DW and I dropped our gear at Reiker Ford Access and then DW drove back up to Mayers Landing Access to meet up with our other paddlers and run shuttle. This is a nice, easy shuttle that only takes about 15 or 20 minutes round trip. When everyone finished organizing their gear we shoved off around 9:30am. Another couple of kayakers put on the river right behind us (which would be very beneficial to us later at the end of the trip), so we weren’t the only ones hitting the water that day.

Bourbeuse River

Gravel bar access at Reiker Ford

Bourbeuse River

Reiker Ford Access

Bourbeuse River

DW, Amy and Ocoee

Bourbeuse River

The Bourbeuse is kind of like a miniature lower Meramec. There is much of the same sort of landscape; small bluffs and wooded banks. There are not many houses on this stretch of river despite it being pretty close to the town of Union. The water was at a good paddling depth for most of the trip, but there were a few spots where the kayaks dragged a bit.

Bourbeuse River

Bourbeuse River

Icicles on the bluff

Bourbeuse River

The day warmed up quite nicely and the sun was out for most of the trip. I expected to see more ice on the river, but there wasn’t any in the main channels. We did see some icicles on the bluffs. Wildlife was pretty sparse, as is normal for winter floats. We saw the usual hawks and river birds as well as a few turkeys. The Bourbeuse is supposed to have some good bass fishing too. Which reminds me that I need to buy my fishing license for this year!

Bourbeuse River

A log parked on a boulder

Bourbeuse River

Lovely scenery

Bourbeuse River

There wasn’t too much trash on the river to clean up, just the usual amount of litter. However there was one bank that was pretty awful. Someone has a lovely mobile home graveyard parked right on the edge of the eroding clay river bank. Insulation and sheet metal were falling off the trailers and into the river. How that doesn’t count as littering or illegal dumping, I don’t know. Maybe I should look into it! It’s only going to take one good flood to dump one of those trailers directly in the water.

Bourbeuse River

The slough on the left leading to the take-out

Bourbeuse River

Icebreaking our way to the take-out

Bourbeuse River

Mayers Landing

Around 4:00 we knew we were approaching the end of our trip and were keeping an eye out for our take-out on the left. However, unbeknownst to us, Mayers Landing is one of those accesses that used to be on the main channel, but then the river changed course. It is now a little ways up a slough and not at all visible from the main channel. Luckily the other kayakers on the river that day waved us in just as we were about to pass it up. So keep an eye out for a slough on the left side of the river that wraps around a large island. Might be a good idea to pin the location on your GPS so you don’t miss it. We definitely would have passed it up!

This weekend looks like unseasonably warm weather again. DW are taking a impromptu trip to the Eleven Point for an overnight float. We’ve never been there in the winter before, so it should be a different experience!

Critter Count: Hawks, Kingfishers, Turkeys