Tag Archives: float trip

Float #157 & #158: Buffalo River

26 Apr

Boxley to Kyles Landing to Pruitt

F157_Buffalo

Buffalo River
Newton County, Arkansas
Friday, March 30 – Saturday, March 31, 2018
30 Miles
Temperature: Friday 60˚/39˚, Saturday 70˚/42˚
Wind: Friday NW at 7mph, Saturday S at 8mph
Water Level: Friday 5.5, Saturday 4.5 at Ponca gage

It’s the best float trip of the year! Our annual Easter float trip to Arkansas. This year we did the Buffalo and we had really good water levels for our trip. We were joined by our brother-in-law Henry and our friend Richard. We drove down on Thursday evening to Kyle’s Landing campground. It rained all the way there, but stopped as soon as we pulled up to camp. The rain held off for the rest of our stay until Saturday night/Sunday morning. So we got great water runoff from the rain without having to paddle through any rain ourselves! This time we left Ocoee (our dog) at home. He hates Arkansas because it has splashy water (small rapids). He’s not a whitewater fan AT ALL!

Friday morning the water was moving so good that we puttered around camp in the morning and put in at Boxley bridge around noon, knowing the 16 miles down to Kyle’s Landing would go by quickly.

Buffalo River

Boxley bridge access

Buffalo River

DW warms up the Gnar Bar at Boxley

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Rescuing the Gnar Bar after DW’s flip

Boxley to Ponca is a challenging section of river and not for the inexperienced. If there is enough water to run it, you can be sure there are Class 2+ or Class 3 rapids that range from rolling waves to tight, technical turns. Our friend Richard was a bit out of practice for this level of paddling, so we spent a good amount of time pulling him out of the river! Henry took our Dagger whitewater boat. He seemed to have a great time with it and only flipped a couple times. DW actually flipped the canoe for the second time ever in his long history of paddling. There is one really tight S-turn with a tree, a boulder, a rock wall, and another tree that was super technical. I’m surprised I made it through without flipping myself. The canoe was just a little too long for DW to think that fast and make it through cleanly. He didn’t lose any gear though!

Buffalo River

Waterfalls

Buffalo River

More waterfalls

Buffalo River

Ponca bridge at 0″ airspace

We made it to Ponca bridge (6 miles down) without much more incident. Richard opted to stay at Ponca and wait for us to finish, as he was dead tired at that point. Flipping the boat a lot is very fatiguing! It’s always good to know your limits so you don’t get into a bad situation.

From Ponca we carried on to Kyle’s Landing without much incident. With all the rain in the previous days the waterfalls were everywhere! That’s not something you see too often on the Buffalo and especially not when the sun is shining.

Buffalo River

We got to Kyle’s Landing in the late afternoon and spent time relaxing and stuffing our faces after a hard day of burning calories. The next day we put in at the campground and paddled down to Pruitt.

Buffalo RiverBuffalo River

Henry swims

Buffalo River

Pruitt bridge

The second day of our trip Henry took his touring kayak instead of the whitewater boat and only flipped it a couple times! I was the only person in our group who didn’t flip at all (I’m badass like that, lol)! The section from Kyle’s to Pruitt isn’t as scenic as from Ponca down, so I didn’t take as many photos. The day was warm, but ended up being overcast with some chilly winds by the time we finished up. Saturday night the boys had fun stomping around the trails. Unfortunately I came down with a nasty stomach flu after we got off the river. Puking in camp is NOT FUN! It rained a bit Saturday night and started up with the precipitation again as we packed up and pulled out of camp. I was so glad the rain held off while we were on the river! It was another great trip to Arkansas.

 

 

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Float #156: Courtois Creek

26 Apr

Berryman to Huzzah Conservation Area

F142_Courtois

Courtois Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, March 3, 2018
15 Miles
Temperature: 61˚/33˚
Wind: SE at 11mph
Water Level: 3.6 at Huzzah gage

It’s time for 2018 floating season, and I am already well behind on writing blog posts! Our first trip of the year was on March 3rd. We had some good rain earlier in the week and planned on doing Big Creek, but the water level dropped too much by the time the weekend hit. So we went to the Courtois instead. This was DW’s first real paddle trip since his shoulder surgery in fall of 2017. He did well, but was pretty tired by the time we were done! Our brother-in-law Henry came along with us on this one. The weather was pretty nice for early March and was one of the few days this spring with warm temps and sunshine.

Courtois Creek

Encountering a tree portage

Courtois Creek

DW and Ocoee

Courtois Creek

Clear water of the Courtois

We started our trip at Berryman access. Henry took his new kayak that he bought for his wife (my sister Emily). The new kayak has a bit of a keel, so it was hard to maneuver on the twisty Courtois, but Henry managed it alright. Except for the part where he dumped his new phone in the creek. Always tether your valuables to your boat or your person!

We encountered a few portages where a tree had fallen across the creek and was impossible to paddle under or around. But those were in the uppermost few miles and most of the creek was easily navigable. We had a decent water level too and didn’t have any low areas to scrape our boats on.

Courtois Creek

Courtois Creek

Juvenile Bald Eagle

We saw a fair amount of wildlife on this trip including one adult Bald Eagle and two juveniles. Henry raced a beaver in his boat (the beaver won). And we saw some deer, in addition to the usual array of birds and turtles.

Courtois Creek

It was a nice start to the paddle season. The cold, rainy weather and our busy schedules made it hard to get much water time in this spring. Our next trip was the annual Easter float in Arkansas, which was a lot of fun!

Critter Count: Turtles, Kingfishers, Herons, 3 Bald Eagles, Deer, Turkey, 1 Beaver

2017: Year In Review

29 Dec

2017 was a good year for paddling, even though we seem to be slowing down a bit in the number of miles we do per year. The best part about this year was taking my niece and nephew on their first overnight trips, and getting my sister Emily into kayaking a bit more. We had a stretch of warm weather early in the year and got to paddle the Eleven Point in the winter for the first time. The epic flooding in May tore up many of our Ozark streams and drastically changed parts of familiar rivers. DW did the MR340 this year, though we did not document it on the blog. He came in 9th in the Men’s Solo Kayak division, which is pretty damn good for someone paddling a stock plastic kayak!

Here’s a look back at 2017.

Float Stats

Number of trips in 2017: 16

Number of rivers floated: 10

Miles paddled: 223

Best critter sighting: A snake eating a fish on the Jack’s Fork

Best bonus prize: 2 cheap kayak paddles found on the Jack’s Fork

 

Best Photos

My favorite photo from each trip on the blog this year.

Bourbeuse River

Bourbeuse River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Courtois River

Courtois River

Big Piney River

Big Piney River

Mulberry River

Mulberry River

Mulberry River

Mulberry River

Jack’s Fork River

Jacks Fork River

Jack’s Fork River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

Eleven Point River

North Fork River

North Fork River

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Current River

Current River

 

Float #153 – #155: Current River

29 Dec

Pulltite to Two Rivers

F153_Current

Current River
Shannon County, Missouri
Friday, September 29 – Sunday, October 1, 2017
27 Miles
Temperature: Friday 82˚/50˚, Saturday 82˚/51˚, Sunday 81˚/48˚
Wind: Friday NE at 4mph, Saturday ENE at 6mph, Sunday ESE at 7mph
Water Level: 1.15 at Akers gage

DW and I managed to slip away for a weekend on the Current River for our wedding anniversary. We used to do a 4 or 5 day float on the Current for our anniversary every year, but we are much busier with work these days and rarely have time for a leisurely trip of that length. We took Friday off work, loaded up the canoe, my kayak, and our dog Ocoee and drove down to Two Rivers for our boat shuttle. Two Rivers outfitter has changed quite a bit since the big flood back in May. Their building was completely gone and they were operating out of an RV that they had been living in all summer. The people at the outfitter were friendly as usual and were upbeat and positive about rebuilding and getting things back to normal over the following year. We loaded our boats and gear in their van and were dropped off at Pulltite to start our trip a little before noon. The weather that weekend was in the low 80s, warm enough during the day but a bit chilly at night, but not really hot enough to do much swimming in the cold water of the Current.

Current River

Pulltite spring

Current River

Fire Hydrant spring

Current River

Current River

DW preps camp

We spent the afternoon leisurely drifting down the river and casually casting out a fishing line. We didn’t make too many miles the first day as we were occupied with relaxing and the peace that comes with having nowhere to be and all day to get there. We scouted for camping spots in the late afternoon and found a decent one a couple hours before sunset. DW gathered firewood while I set up the tent and Ocoee napped on the gravel bar. That dog gets really worn out sitting in a canoe doing nothing all day!

Current River

Sinking Creek confluence

Current River

Ocoee gets a bath

Current River

Sunset on the river

The second day on the river was much the same as the first. We stopped for lunch at the big gravel bar on Sinking Creek. Ocoee got a much needed bath in the river, which he was thrilled about. DW and I spent about an hour laying in the sun and drifting in and out of sleep. We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves! After we passed Round Spring we began to look for a campsite and found a pretty good one on a large gravel bar with lots of firewood. We had a wonderful meal of camp burritos and watched the sun set over the river. It was one of the best sunsets I’ve seen on the river in a while!

Current River

Current River

Mink

Current River

The next day we had to hoof it, because we spent the first two days drifting along and not getting very far. I think we had 16 or 17 miles to do on Sunday! Fortunately we are both good paddlers accustomed to long trips. We paddled for a couple hours straight and managed to knock out the majority of the remaining miles. The fall colors were just getting started and we saw the usual array of waterfowl, deer, turtles, an eagle, and a mink. The mink was running along the bank and kept stopping to peek at us from behind the branches. I managed to get a photo of his minky little face.

We got off the river by early evening and did the 2 hour drive home to fall asleep and get back to work the next day. I’m glad we were able to get away for a couple days with just the two of us and the river. This was the last float trip we did in 2017. DW had shoulder surgery in late October to fix a few years worth of injuries from multiple dislocations. He was in a sling for a little over a month and is still in physical therapy trying to get back in shape before spring. Until then, I will have to paddle him down the river in the canoe!

Critter Count: Hawks, Herons, Kingfishers, Turtles, 1 Bald Eagle, Deer, 1 Mink

Float #152: Mississippi River

28 Dec

Wittenberg to Red Star

F152_Mississippi

Mississippi River
Perry and Cape Counties, Missouri
Sunday, September 3, 2017
28 Miles
Temperature: 89˚/57˚
Wind: SW at 5mph
Water Level: 18.3 at Cape Girardeau gage

Long time, no posts! The past few months have flown by. DW and I have been very busy with work and then DW had shoulder surgery in October to repair injuries from several dislocations over the years. So we have not been paddling since September, and I am just now getting around to posting the last two floats we did this year.

We did our annual Mississippi float with DW’s Dad and a couple other friends. Last year we took out at Wittenberg, so this year we put in there and paddled down to Red Star Access at Cape Girardeau. The shuttle for this float is pretty long, over an hour each way, so we had some help shuttling vehicles from others who were not paddling that day.

Mississippi River

Putting on at Wittenberg

Mississippi River

Tower Rock

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Dried mud field

Mississippi River

The main sights on this trip were Tower Rock, which is just down from Wittenberg and a big sandbar a few miles down from there. Tower Rock is aptly named as it is an island composed of a tall rock with a channel that flows on either side. This landmark is a historic place, as it is mentioned as far back as the early French settlers in the late 1600s. Some years the water level gets low enough that you can walk out to Tower Rock from the shore.

We stopped at the big sandbar as well and did some beach combing. There wasn’t much to see except dried mud and a few birds. I did pick up a new barge rope for my dogs.

Mississippi RiverMississippi RiverMississippi River

The water that day was pretty calm for the Mississippi and the weather wasn’t too hot, so it was a pretty pleasant day for paddling the big river. We did see quite a few barges and lots of people out in their speedboats enjoying the holiday weekend.

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Cape Girardeau bridge

We stopped again near Cape Rock park just a little bit before the end of our trip. There is a nice little beach there where we watched some barges go by. I think I may have taken a shallow dip in the river, a little dirt therapy is good for the soul. We ended our trip in the late afternoon. It was fairly uneventful, but a pleasant paddle all the same. We’ve done the section from Cape Girardeau down to Commerce several times, so I don’t know where we will put in for next year. We may start farther upriver closer to St. Louis and knock out a few of those sections.

 

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

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!