Tag Archives: kimmswick

Float #132: Meramec River

3 Mar

George Winter County Park to Kimmswick

F132_Meramec

Meramec River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, February 20
13 Miles

So far, 2016 has had plenty of warm days perfect for winter floating. Back in January we shook off our cabin fever with a short float on the Meramec near home that we do fairly often. In February we were able to finally finish the last section of the Meramec that we have never previously floated. This is not the most scenic or exciting stretch of river, but it was something that needed to be checked off the list. Now all 193 miles of the Meramec has been recorded on this blog!

It was a warm and sunny day with highs in the 60s. DW and I put our boats in at George Winter County Park in Fenton, which is a small lake that merges into the Meramec. The previous couple of days had been very windy with gusts near 40mph. Fortunately, on this day the winds were much more calm, gusting to only 10mph.

Meramec River

Putting in at Winter Park

Meramec River

Meramec River

Hwy. 21 bridge

Meramec River

Meramec River

I-55 bridge in the distance

You may have heard of the epic flooding we experienced around late December/early January. The Meramec was the main cause of that. The waters have been back to normal levels for a while now, but the flood debris, mud and property damage is still visible along the river. All the debris and mud made the normally brown winter scenery even more brown and dreary. If we had brought the canoe we could have scored quite a haul of usable debris. We saw a couple guys in a john boat doing just that. They had stacks of lumber, patio chairs, and other things in their boat.

Meramec River

A water treatment plant

Meramec River

Hwy. 61 bridge

Meramec River

Railroad bridge

Meramec River

Meramec River

DW checks out an old foundation

There are a lot of bridges on this stretch of river, as it winds under several major highways and railways. At one point during the flood, every single one of these bridges was underwater, effectively cutting off Jefferson County from the city of St. Louis. It was crazy, floating underneath them and imagining the water being so high. You can still see pieces of driftwood and debris stuck in the bridge girders and treetops.

Even though this part of the Meramec is very close to several towns and neighborhoods, it wasn’t too industrial or civilized along the riverbanks. There were a couple of spots that almost looked the same as farther upstream where I live, which is pretty rural. But other than the bridges, one small bluff, several old foundations, and a few gravel bars, there isn’t much to look at. We took our lunch on one such old foundation. There seem to have been a lot of houses that were flooded out over the years. The trees, sand and mud have reclaimed the area and all that’s left is the concrete. The river was surprisingly not as wide as I thought it would be this far downstream. We even managed to catch a couple of riffles in some narrower spots!

Meramec River

DW, an old boxcar, and a sycamore

Meramec River

Bald Cypress trees

Meramec River

Lines near a power plant close to the Mississippi

Meramec River

Railroad bridge

Meramec River

Flood debris stuck in the underside of the bridge

We saw several birds on this trip including a falcon, hawks, herons and two bald eagles. We even saw an eagle nest, which was not something I expected to see this close to the city. I also saw the first turtle of the year, just the one though. Soon enough they will all be out soaking up the sun.

1.5 miles above the confluence we passed Flamm City, which is the last access before the Mississippi river. Even without that landmark we could tell we were nearing the big river. We passed a power plant, several fishing camps (now flooded out), and we could hear the trains moving along the bank. The most obvious sign was the smell of Mississippi river mud, at least a mile before the confluence we could smell the muddy water! It’s not a bad smell, but it’s unique.

Meramec River

Confluence of the Meramec and Mississippi

Meramec River

Nearing Kimmswick

Meramec River

Paddling up Rock Creek into Kimmswick

Once we reached the confluence we only had about a mile to paddle on the Mississippi before we reached our takeout at Kimmswick. The Mississippi was very calm that day and the water was smooth and glassy. We experienced a strange optical illusion as we were paddling. As there was a cold front coming in that evening, there were a lot of hot and cold air currents mixing over the surface of the water. I could see the air shimmering on the water, like it does on pavement during a hot day. As we looked downstream, past Kimmswick, we saw what appeared to be a huge tsunami size wave go from the east to the west side of the river. Not only have we never seen a wave that big on the river, they don’t usually travel east/west, and the water was dead calm where we were paddling. The only thing I could logically assume is that we were seeing the hot and cold air currents bending the light, making it look like a huge rolling wave on the surface. If it were real, we probably would have heard a crash from that much water! It was pretty freaky all the same!

The Mississippi was higher this day than the last time we accessed at Kimmswick, so we were able to paddle up Rock Creek into town instead of hauling our boats up the muddy river bank. Once we arrived DW pulled our boats up and we relaxed with a beer at the Blue Owl, while waiting for my aunt Marcia to finish her shift and run us back to our car. It was a good day on the river and it felt great to finish that final leg of the Meramec!

Critter Count: 2 Bald Eagles, 1 Falcon, Herons, Hawks, 1 Turtle

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Float #131: Mississippi River

20 Nov

Kimmswick to Truman Access

F131_Mississippi

Mississippi River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, November 14
18 Miles

This past weekend was quite warm with highs in the upper 60s. DW and I wanted to go floating, since it would be our only chance to get on the water in November. However it was also opening weekend of firearms deer season, so we didn’t want to go anywhere too close to hunting areas. That eliminated most waterways close to our house. So we decided to knock out another section of the Mississippi. We didn’t have anyone going with us, so we drove two vehicles and ran our own shuttle. After dropping one car at Truman Access, we drove up to Kimmswick to put on the river. There is a small public parking area right next to a creek that runs through town and spills into the Mississippi. Normally, this is where you put in to access the river, but the creek was very low so we drove closer to the river and walked our boats down the bank to the water.

Mississippi River

Putting on at Kimmswick

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Choppy waters

There was a fair number of barges going upriver that day, as well as a variable wind that kicked up some small waves. I enjoy the Mississippi when it is more calm and flat water, but DW likes it choppy. There are quite a few houses on this section of the river, many more than I am used to seeing and most of them quite large. We paddled for about five miles and then took a break on a sandbar to eat some food.

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Remnants of an old wooden rick rack

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

The next few miles were pretty uneventful. There aren’t many sandbars that looked worth exploring and no gravelbars (where the more interesting stuff usually is). Eventually some hills and bluffs appeared on the Missouri side with some interesting rock formations. There is a large quarry right on the river near Crystal City. It is loud and spews a lot of dust, so you can’t miss it. We also got to see a train roll through. We waved and the conductor blew his horn. Trains are one of the things I’ve never grown out of from childhood (another is poop jokes)!

Mississippi River

A train passes by

Mississippi River

The quarry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nearing our take out at Truman Access

Just after the quarry a tugboat was stacking up barges in preparation for moving them upstream. I think that is the first time I’ve seen a tugboat stacking barges. Not long after the quarry we could see the smokestack of Rush Island powerplant in the distance. As we neared our destination another barge pushed upriver. Of course, it threw up some waves, which made turning into the access a bit tricky. You want to face the waves head-on with the nose of your boat pointing into them. Otherwise you risk getting swamped. The combination of a rick rack, barge waves and making a turn into the boat dock was a little dicey. I had to point downriver into the waves, and then make a quick turn and paddle hard to reach the boat ramp before the next set of waves hit me sideways.

We both pulled in safely around 4 hours after we had put on the river. We made pretty good time, but we only took one short break. I still think the section from Truman Access to Ste. Genevieve is the prettiest we’ve done so far on the Mississippi, but it was good to get another section finished. It’s not likely we’ll find time to float in December, but I will be back before the end of the year to do the “year in review” post!

Critter Count: Ducks