Tag Archives: Kayaking

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

 

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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

Float #146 & #147: Jacks Fork River

13 Jul

Buck Hollow to Alley Spring

F147_JacksFork

Jacks Fork River
Shannon County, Missouri
Saturday, June 24 & Sunday, June 25, 2017
24 Miles
Temperature: Saturday 80˚/59˚, Sunday 86˚/56˚
Wind: Saturday NNW at 6mph, Sunday NW at 4mph
Water Level: Saturday 2.9, Sunday 2.8 at Eminence gage

We’ve done quite a few overnight trips on the Jacks Fork, but this one was special because it was the first overnight float trip for my niece (Celia) and nephew (Silas). They’ve been floating with us for a couple years now, but never camped out overnight on the gravel bar. We decided on the Jacks Fork because we had not been there yet this year, it’s a nice trip and my sister had not been floating down there since we were kids. The Jacks Fork and Current River area were our go-to family vacation spot for a number of years.

We paid Harvey’s Canoe Rental to run a car shuttle for us and drove up to Buck Hollow to unload all our gear. It’s a little bit of a walk from the unloading area to the riverside when you have a bunch of gear, but Silas helped carry the lighter stuff while the dogs ran around and Celia spent her time getting in trouble for throwing a fit because she had to wear sunscreen. We finally had everything situated and started paddling around 10:30am.

Jacks Fork River

Ocoee oversees loading the boats

Jacks Fork River

Emily and her trusty steed

Jacks Fork River

Marge the Barge scrapes her way downstream

We usually stick to doing the upper portions of the Jacks Fork in the spring. There are fewer freshwater springs on the upper section, so it needs rainfall to be floatable. This late in the year it was just barely floatable. The kayaks made it through without scraping, but the fully loaded canoes had a bit more trouble. Especially Marge the Barge as she’s a heavy lady to begin with! This was probably the last weekend it was enjoyable for this summer unless we get a good amount of rainfall.

There was a significant flood back in late April/early May of this year that hit the Ozark Riverways pretty hard. It was one of those 500 year floods that happen every couple years or so. A lot of outfitters were wiped out and had to rebuild and the vegetation and riverbanks took quite a beating. We saw a few new scars from landslides, lots of rocks that had been displaced, gravel bars and banks scoured or relocated, and ripped up trees everywhere. There were some trees that had been stripped of all their branches, just a tall pole with a few new leaves starting to grow from the trunk.

Jacks Fork River

A fresh new landslide

A tree stripped of branches

We stopped at Blue Spring for lunch and did some swimming where the spring water enters the river. Blue Spring had not changed much from the flooding, but Jam Up Cave was a bit different. Many of the large rocks and a couple boulders had been washed downstream from the entrance. It’s still jammed up, but not as much as it used to be. We also passed a river hazard warning sign, something I’ve never seen before on the river. There was a big tree trunk across the narrow river channel. I guess it was too big or too submerged to cut out. We walked our boats around it or pushed them over the log without any incident.

Blue Spring

Celia & Emily swimming in the spring water

Jacks Fork River

Two dorks

Celia won

Flood damage

Jam Up Cave

Jacks Fork River

River Hazard Sign

Jacks Fork River

Eh, that’s not much of a hazard

By late afternoon, it was time to find a campsite. Henry was getting pretty tired paddling and scraping that heavy aluminum canoe down the river! With all the flood damage there was plenty of firewood available, but it took a while to find the perfect gravel bar that wasn’t full of large rocks. I paddled ahead and scouted several options. I know from experience that there is always a better site just around the bend! However, this time I found the best one, a large gravel bar across from a bluff with some sand to sleep on. We set up our camp and spent some time fishing while our fire got going. Celia and Silas really wanted to fish, but they have no idea how to cast a pole. DW let them reel his in a few times. He caught a small bluegill and let Silas reel it in. Then he cast the little fish out again so Celia could “catch” it too.

Celia & Silas at camp

Celia being silly

Jacks Fork River

Henry, Silas, Emily & Celia

Jacks Fork River

Safety dog always wears his PFD

After a good night’s sleep we woke up around 8:30am and started packing up while our breakfast burritos warmed on the fire. The kids went swimming within 10 minutes of being awake. One thing I have learned from this trip is you have to do shorter overnight trips with little kids. They are slow and want to stop and swim every 5 minutes!

Jacks Fork River

Ocoee is so excited to be floating

The next day was pleasantly uneventful. We did a little fishing and a lot of swimming. DW saw a snake catching a small bass which was pretty cool. The snake hauled the fish out of the river and drug it up on the bank as it flopped around violently. Never seen that before! We also found two kayak paddles; both the cheap kind, but hey, free paddles! The river was still pretty low in spots all the way to the end. Once Alley Spring comes in the river gets more consistent water levels. We arrived at Alley around 6pm, which is kinda late for a Sunday, but those kids are more into swimming than paddling! The gravel bar at Alley has changed quite a bit. It is not as big as it used to be. The campground was pretty rough too. All the bathrooms were closed and there were only port-a-potties available. The park service has put in a lot of work to get things back to normal, but I imagine repairing all those bathrooms is a large job.

Celia, Silas and their dog Lucas

Jacks Fork River

Jacks Fork River

Twilight on the river

We had an excellent time on this trip. DW and I enjoyed taking our niece and nephew on their first overnight float trip and the kids enjoyed it too. I asked them if they had fun and if they wanted to do it again. Silas gave an enthusiastic “Yes!” and Celia said “Eh, maybe.” She’s a snarky brat like me!

Bonus Prize: 2 kayak paddles

Critter Count: Deer, Hawks, Herons, Turtles, 1 Snake

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!

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.