Tag Archives: robertsville

Float #94: Meramec River

30 Dec

Robertsville State Park to Pacific

F94_Meramec

Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Saturday, December 28
11 Miles

Looks like that float in November wasn’t the last trip of the year after all! This past Saturday, DW and I did not have any plans and the weather was looking good with highs in the upper 50s and sunshine all day. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get one last float trip this year. It has been almost two months since our last trip, so we were suffering float withdraw! We dropped our truck at the Pacific Palisades access and drove to the boat ramp at Robertsville State Park; our boats were on the water by 10:15. The temperature was still rather chilly and I felt like a toddler in a snowsuit, all bundled up and hardly able to move.

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A Bald Eagle watches me from a sycamore

A Bald Eagle watches me from a sycamore

DW breaks up ice on Calvey Creek

DW breaks up ice on Calvey Creek

Approaching Fish Trap Rapid

Approaching Fish Trap Rapid

Fish Trap Rapid

Fish Trap Rapid

A couple of miles down from Robertsville is Calvey Creek, a large creek that comes in on the right side of the river. Just before the creek we saw a Bald Eagle flying upstream. He stopped in a sycamore overlooking the water and watched us float by. We saw another Bald Eagle, not far downstream from the first one. I noticed that Calvey Creek was still frozen over, so we paddled into it to break up some ice. Ice breaking is one of DW’s favorite winter activities. The ice was a couple of inches thick and broke off into large rafts. Just past Calvey Creek is a rocky riffle called Fish Trap rapid. There’s not much to it, but it does make for a fast little run on an otherwise flat and slow paddle.

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Erosion: it can happen to you

Erosion: it can happen to you

The perfect blue sky and calm water made for a lovely, relaxing day on the river. We saw a couple other people in john boats and several people on the riverbanks enjoying the sunshine, but we were the only paddlers. As we approached Catawissa we saw several river cabins. One of them had not been built on solid ground and was slowly tumbling into the water. Another flood or two and it will be washed downstream.

Approaching the railroad bridge

Approaching the railroad bridge

A train crosses the river

A train crosses the river

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Six miles from Robertsville is the Catawissa access. If you don’t know it’s there you will miss it, as there is no ramp or sign. Catawissa access is a lake that drains into the river on the right side. Directly after the access is the St. Louis – San Francisco Railroad bridge. As we passed under the bridge I heard a train horn, so we waited around for a few minutes as the train passed overhead. Three more miles downstream is the Hwy. F bridge in Pacific, a sign that our trip is almost over. There aren’t many gravel bars on the lower section of this float. There is a large gravel bar right before the bridge, but it is surrounded by houses and a lot of people; not a good spot for lunch.

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The bluff over Pacific

The bluff over Pacific

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We ended up eating our lunch just before we finished the float. There is a very small island between the highway bridge and where the river bends around Pacific. We stopped there and enjoyed our lunch. There were many deer tracks on this island. I don’t know why they would ford the river just to get to that island, there didn’t appear to be much food on it. I left them my apple core anyway.

A mile later we pulled up to the Pacific boat ramp, just as two other kayakers were putting on. It was only 3pm, so there was a couple hours of daylight left for a short float. These paddlers had a large black lab that rode on the back of one of the kayaks. That dog must be well-trained and the paddler must have good balance!

DW bought me a new camera for Christmas, a Olympus Tough. It is waterproof, so no more clunky waterproof camera housing for me! I took all of these photos with it and I think it did a great job. I’m really excited to put it to the test in the coming year. It was a good end to another year of excellent floating. Getting out on the water felt really good after such a long break and the river was beautiful. Now it’s time to crunch those numbers for the year in review!

Critter Count: Ducks, Geese, Herons, Kingfishers, Hawks, 2 Bald Eagles

Float #29: Meramec River

17 Nov

Robertsville State Park to Catawissa

Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Saturday, November 5
6.5 Miles

This will most likely be the last float of the year. With colder weather and the demands of hunting season and the holidays it is very difficult to find time to go floating in November and December. So when there is a beautiful day in early November, you grab it and float whatever body of water is most convenient. We joined up with our friends Scott and Megan and our newest float buddy, Mike. We met Mike on the Meramec last winter. He owns property near River Round access and loves the river as much as we do.

We wanted to float a section of the Meramec we’d not done before, so we decided to do Robertsville State Park to Catawissa Conservation Area. Robertsville State Park is a nice access with a typical boat ramp. Catawissa is much more complicated. The conservation area includes several small lakes that used to be gravel pits. In high water these lakes connect to the Meramec river. In low or normal water it requires a short portage (and a bit of mud) to get from the river to the lake. The access it not visible from the river, nor is it marked. The best way to find it is to look for a dry creek bed on the right side of the river between the Hwy. N bridge and the RR bridge. With the help of GPS we found it easily.

meramec river, robertsville state park

Robertsville access

meramec river

meramec river

meramec river, calvey creek

Calvey Creek

Although temperatures were in the upper 60s, the sky was overcast and it never seemed to really warm up. But it was good practice for late winter and early spring floats, a reminder to dig out the winter gear and pack for the colder weather.

Most of the leaves had fallen by this point, but some oaks still clung to their leaves and there were patches of fire red and blazing yellow throughout the wooded banks. The stark white of the sycamore trees lends an otherworldly beauty to the sparse river edge. Our first landmark was Calvey Creek, a sizable creek that enters the river on the right. There is a large grove of young sycamores at the confluence that is quite beautiful. While we were staring at the trees we noticed a Bald Eagle flying down the creek. He settled on a branch by the river and stared back at us as we all snapped photos. It’s really cool to see one so close and not high up in a tree.

meramec river

Bald Eagle at Calvey Creek

meramec river

meramec river

After Calvey Creek we came to Fish Trap Rapid, a swift, rocky spot that stretched across the length of the river. It was splashy and fun, but not challenging. I think it would be a fun spot in moderately high water when the river is flowing fast.

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Fish Trap Rapid

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Beautiful autumn sycamores

meramec river

meramec river

meramec river

Memories of summer

The remainder of the float was uneventful. We didn’t see much wildlife. The turtles had mostly gone for the winter and the river was very quiet. This section of river is bordered by a lot of private camp areas and everyone had shut their camps for the winter. We didn’t see any other people on the river or hanging out on the banks.

meramec river

Hwy. N Bridge

meramec river

St. Louis - San Francisco RR Bridge

We finally arrived at the Hwy. N bridge. It confused us at first until we looked at the map. In our heads we thought this bridge should be after the take-out, when it is actually right before it. Once that was settled we noticed the RR bridge was just ahead and we should begin looking for the take-out. We pulled over at the first likely spot and Mike jogged up the creek bed and confirmed it was indeed the right spot. We waited a bit for Scott and Megan to catch back up. They were ahead of us and had passed it up. They had to paddle back up for 10 minutes, but they also got to spend more time on the river! We portaged our boats up to the lake and then tried to find a spot to get back into the boat without getting covered in mud. No luck. The lake is fairly shallow at the edges and it was impossible to get the boat into the water without getting ankle-deep in stinky lake mud.

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Catawissa access from the river

meramec river, catawissa access

Catawissa access from the lake

We were able to get off the water and run shuttle before dark hit. It’s always sad to have your kayak time cut off by short winter days. However, it’s worth it to get out on the water in the winter, no matter how short the float. Winter turns even the most familiar rivers into new experiences. The deep quiet of the woods brings out the voice of the water. The wildlife is sparse, but eagles sightings are more common. The river clears of the sediment churned up during the summer and changes color to reflect its true nature. Many rivers are far more beautiful in winter than in summer and the Meramec is a prime example.

Critter Count: 1 Bald Eagle

Bonus Prize: 1 life vest (not the cheap orange kind either!)