Tag Archives: Kayaking

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 #150 & #151: North Fork River

21 Sep

Twin Bridges to Patrick Bridge

F150_NorthFork

North Fork of the White River
Ozark County, Missouri
Saturday, July 22 & Sunday, July 23, 2017
18 Miles
Temperature: Saturday 96˚/73˚, Sunday 95˚/73˚
Wind: Saturday SW at 3mph, Sunday SW at 2mph
Water Level: Saturday 2.65, Sunday 2.64 at Tecumseh gage

This post is long overdue! Life has gotten busy and time got away from me. I’ve got a small stack of trip reports to write up from the summer, so here’s to hoping I get to them all in a more timely fashion.

This particular weekend in July was a hot one, as most of this summer has been. We decided to head for a cold river, but having just done the Eleven Point we opted for the North Fork, which is about the same amount of driving and just as cold. It has been a few years since we’ve been there so it was nice to get back. On this trip we were joined by my sister Emily and her family, her friend Taylor and their family, and my best friend Cassie. We drove down early Saturday morning to Twin Bridges access, dropped the gear and then DW and Henry drove the shuttle down to our take out at Patrick Bridge. The North Fork had been hit pretty hard with the flooding in May and many of the public accesses and campgrounds were closed due to the extensive damage. I had a hard time discerning what was and wasn’t closed from the information I could find online, so I called the outfitter at Twin Bridges and they helped me figure it out.

North Fork River

Putting on at Twin Bridges

North Fork River

Marge the Barge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

North Fork River

DW and Ocoee run the low water bridge

North Fork River

Picnic table in a tree. That’s how high the water was in the flood.

North Fork River

The first few hours of paddling were pretty low water. We didn’t have to portage, but it was definitely scraping the boats in many spots (especially the canoes). There are no major springs until you get to Blue Spring, so the water was a bit warmer in this section as well. But it was still very clear and the scenery was beautiful. We saw our first sign of the flooding, a picnic table suspended in a treetop well over our heads. It is so surreal to see where the high water line was and imagine that volume of water moving through the landscape.

North Fork River

Hwy. CC Bridge completely destroyed from flooding.

North Fork River

What is left of the bridge.

North Fork River

Hammond Camp access

The picnic table in the tree was just the tip of the iceberg as far as flood damage on the North Fork. Soon, we arrived at Hammond Camp, an access we have used in previous years. It used to be very wooded and now it is scraped to the bare rocks. The new bridge at Hwy. CC was completely destroyed. The bridge was twisted up and washed just downstream, a massive hunk of broken steel and concrete. It will take many years for this area to recover.

Blue Spring

Henry and Silas take the plunge.

Henry shows off.

North Fork River

Emily and the girls take their turn.

North Fork River

Our camp for the evening.

Our first stop of the day was at Blue Spring, a nice spring hole that bubbles up on the left side of the river. We spent some time relaxing in the cold water, and many of our group jumped off the short rock ledge into the pool. The rest of the day was a nice, relaxing float. About 4 miles past Blue Spring Rainbow Spring enters the river. This is the largest spring on the North Fork, but it is private property and you can’t see the spring boil from the river. The water really turns cold once Rainbow Spring joins the river! We soon found a good site for our overnight camp, a large gravel bar with ample firewood. We set up camp, ate our dinner and enjoyed the evening under the stars. Henry brought his hammock to sleep in, but the only trees to hang it from were directly over the river, so that’s where he slept! Seems pretty damp to me, but he enjoyed it.

North Fork River

North Fork River

McKee Bridge

Cassie runs The Falls.

North Fork River

Destroyed cabins

North Fork River

The next morning dawned bright and hot. We sweated our way through breakfast and packing up camp and were soon headed downstream once again. There were quite a lot of broken trees and scoured gravel banks on this portion of the river. The next landmark is the McKee bridge, which we were able to float under. There are many nice homes along this area. It didn’t look like too many of them were damaged beyond repair from the flood. However, River of Life (an outfitter known for riverside cabins) was very badly damaged. All of their riverside cabins were a tangled mess of debris even though the structures were built high up on stilts. Soon after McKee bridge is The Falls, a small rock ledge that makes for a fun little drop. Everyone made it through without incident and we paddled onward toward our takeout.

North Fork River

North Fork River

A large log jam

North Fork River

Patrick Bridge

North Fork River

Whats left of the pit toilet at Patrick Bridge.

North Fork River

Althea Spring

We arrived at Patrick Bridge access around 4:30pm. This access was also a mess of downed trees and debris. Althea Spring is located a short walk downstream from here. At least, it used to be a short walk. Now it is a jungle of logs and vegetation that will take a lot of chainsaw hours to clear. Althea Spring was such a beautiful area and I hope it will return to it’s former glory.

We enjoyed our trip to the North Fork, though it was sad to see so many of it’s natural areas worse for wear from the flooding. Nature usually bounces back eventually, though the public access areas will take a lot of time and money to recover.

Critter Count: Bald Eagles, ducks, deer, herons, turtles

 

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