Tag Archives: two rivers

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

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Float #71 – 72: Current River

31 May

Pulltite to Two Rivers

F71_Current

Current River
Shannon County, Missouri
Saturday, May 18 – Sunday, May 19
26 miles

Our first overnight float trip of this year was a fun St. Louis Adventure Group trip on the Current River. We met up with the group at Two Rivers campground on Friday night, sat around the fire, ate some food and got to know everyone. On Saturday morning we loaded our boats and gear on the bus and headed up to Pulltite access. It has been a long time since I’ve ridden a school bus on curvy roads and my stomach was not amused! Once we arrived I felt better and we all loaded up our boats for the trip. Most people had kayaks. DW took the canoe so we could pack more gear and overnight in comfort. A roomy tent and an air mattress are 4 star accommodations on the river bank! The day started out cloudy, but not too chilly. This is the first float of the year that has been warm enough for a swimsuit and dry enough to put the rain gear away.

Current River

Pulltite access

Current River

Pulltite spring branch

Current River

DW takes a cold dip

Current River

Right around the bend from Pulltite access is Pulltite spring. If you park your boat at the mouth of the spring branch there is a trail leading up to the spring and an old cabin. We’ve been here so many times that we didn’t stop on this trip, but there are photos of the spring in some of my previous Current River posts. Just downstream of Pulltite spring is Fire Hydrant spring, a small spring that gushes out of the rocks. It is easily missed if you’re not looking for it. DW and I quickly fell behind the group, as we usually do. We were busy fishing and lazing along instead of paddling. We only caught up to the group once at lunch and then again at camp. I like to spend as much of the day as possible on the river and if we paddle we’re likely to finish the whole trip in one day!

Current River

Current River

Sinking Creek

Current River

Hwy. 19 bridge at Round Spring

Current River

Just above Round Spring is Sinking Creek. This is a popular area for swimming and has a large gravel bar. There is a small campground here too, but it gets very busy on the weekends. Soon we passed Round Spring, a large campground, spring and river access. The water is a little higher than I’ve seen in recent years and one of the boat launch areas was mostly submerged. Once you get past Round Spring the horsepower limit for john boats goes from 25 to 40, so there are a lot more john boats on this section of river. After Round Spring the group started looking for campsites. There are a number of gravel bars past Round Spring, but not many of them are big enough for a large group of people. The gravel bars are also starting to get overgrown with willow and sycamore trees. Not a bad thing for erosion control, but it makes finding a clear spot for camping a little more difficult. We finally caught up to the group on a patchy gravel bar they were considering for camp. A john boater told us there was a much nicer, larger gravel bar about a mile downriver. Half of us decided to paddle on to find it. The other half had already unloaded some of their gear and decided to stay there for the night. We did find the bigger gravel bar. It was across from a long, low bluff and fairly clear of vegetation, much nicer than the original spot!

Current River

Current River

Our campsite

Current River

Current River

Current River

We spent an enjoyable evening around the campfire, swapping stories and cooking dinner. DW and I had beef burritos; so tasty after a day on the water! One couple brought their black lab, Daisy, along in their canoe. We enjoyed hanging out with her as it brought back good memories of canoe trips with our black lab, Zoe, who passed away last summer. Some people were anxious about raccoons coming into camp and messing with stuff. I’ve never encountered a raccoon while camping on a gravel bar, only in campgrounds. However, we did tell them to watch out for armadillos. Not because they are dangerous, just because they are very loud and will startle you. If it sounds like there is a bear coming out of the woods, it is most likely an armadillo poking around.

The next morning dawned cloudy yet again, but it was nice and warm. The fog stayed on the river until nearly 11am. It was good fishing in the morning. DW caught two 10 inch smallmouth and I caught one little one and almost caught a bigger one, but he jumped off the hook.

Current River

Current River

Current River

Current River

Once the fog burned off and the sky cleared the day warmed up quickly. It was warm enough for me to swim and that was really nice! As the day wore on we grew bored with fishing and spent the day drifting downstream, mostly backwards as the wind picked up a bit and spun our boats around. In the afternoon the river got busier as many locals put their john boats on the river after church on Sundays. I was reminded why I usually don’t float the Current in the summer as it only gets more crowded into August.

Current River

Current River

Jacks Fork confluence

Current River

Two Rivers

Around 4pm we rounded the bend and saw Two Rivers campground in the distance. Our trip was over too soon! Since DW and I usually spend at least 3 days on overnight trips it was a little disappointing to be finished already. Overall it was an excellent float with a lot of fun people and a great kick-off to the summer season.

Critter Count: Herons, Kingfishers, turtles, 2 Softshell turtles, 2 mink

Float #44: Current River

3 Aug

Powder Mill to Two Rivers (and Back)

Current River
Shannon County, Missouri
Wednesday, July 4
13 miles

We desperately wanted to go floating in some really cold water on the 4th. All the rivers close to our house are pretty warm in midsummer, so we decided to drive 2 hours south to the Current. None of our floating crew wanted to float that day and we didn’t want to spend money on a shuttle, so we opted to paddle upriver and back. We’ve been doing a lot of upriver paddling on the Meramec near our house. It’s not too difficult if you are a strong paddler and can read water fairly well. Of course there are always some spots that are too shallow and fast to paddle up. A rope tied to the front handle of the kayak makes it easy to pull the boat behind you and walk up the riffles. Then you just have to navigate the uneven footing and slippery rocks and hope you don’t slip and fall!

We left our house around 7:30 and drove to Powder Mill access on the middle Current. Powder Mill is also known as Owl’s Bend. This bend of the river has long been a favorite with owls. Camping here overnight can be noisy with all the hooting. We unloaded and started paddling around 10. As soon as we passed the Hwy. 106 bridge we had to stop for a swim. The first plunge into the cold, clear water made the drive totally worth it!

Current River

Powder Mill access

Current River

There were hundreds of fat dragonflies flying all over the place. You can see one of them in the left corner of the first photo. They don’t bother us much, but there’s always one hitching a ride on the nose of my boat. Anything is better than horseflies! Thankfully those haven’t been too bad this year.

The middle Current has lots of long, slow pools which are easy to paddle up. The shallow and fast parts however, are much longer and a little faster than on the Meramec. This was definitely harder work to get upriver, but still very enjoyable. The river was surprisingly quiet for a holiday. I don’t think there are any outfitters between Two Rivers and Van Buren, so that cuts down on the amount of people. We saw a couple of canoes and some people barbecuing on the gravel bars, but we mostly had the river to ourselves.

Current River

Current River

We didn’t quite make it all the way to Two Rivers. About a mile away we started to get a little tired and it was almost 3pm, so we were running out of time. We turned around and floated back to Powder Mill, stopping to swim several times along the way. There were a lot of snakes swimming across the water. We rarely got close enough to properly identify them. I also saw a couple of deer along the bank and the usual assortment of water birds.

Current River

Hwy. 106 Bridge at Powder Mill

We arrived back at Powder Mill around 5:30, packed up and drove the two hours back home. It was one of the best 4th of July holidays I’ve had. And that cold water was really nice! The next day at work, my arms felt like wet noodles from all the paddling, but it was a lot of fun.

Critter Count: Blue Herons, Green Herons, Ducks, Snakes, 2 Deer

Foat #24 & 25: Current River

12 Oct

Cedar Grove to Two Rivers

Current River
Shannon County, Missouri
Wednesday, September 28 – Thursday, September 29
44 Miles

In celebration of our wedding anniversary, DW and I completed our first overnight kayak trip. After all, what is more romantic than sleeping on a gravel bar? We had spent the previous weekend dragging out all our backpacking gear, which hadn’t been used in almost 6 years, sorting and packing it all into small dry bags. We packed the boats and did a test run on the Meramec near home. Everything seemed to fit well and the boats were well balanced, so we unpacked it all into the car and headed down to the Current River for our first overnight trip with kayaks. We hadn’t floated the Current in nearly 2 years. Back when we only had the canoe we had done a couple week-long trips down to Van Buren, so we are pretty familiar with the Current when it comes to overnight trips. We scheduled a car shuttle from the outfitter at Two Rivers. It was a little pricey, but the drive from Cedar Grove to the take out is over an hour long. Once we got to the access we repacked everything in the kayaks.

DW took the red Perception kayak instead of his regular blue kayak. His blue Perception Montour is very narrow and can’t hold much. The red Perception Prodigy is very wide and there is plenty of room in the front and back to stuff a bunch of gear. My Dagger Axis 10.5 turned out to be nearly perfect for overnight packing. There was plenty of room in the front to slide long things (extra paddle, camp seat and several small bags) and the sealed hull held a lot more than I thought it would. I did have to be careful to balance the front and back of the boat so both ends turned at the same rate. Otherwise the front would turn quickly while the back just sat there. We also bought a bunch more small fabric dry bags. The regular vinyl dry bags are hard to stuff into small spaces (too much friction against the plastic boat) and the fabric ones work well as long as you don’t submerge them in water for a long time.

current river, kayak overnight

All our gear before packing it in the boats

current river, cedar grove

Packed boats ready to launch at Cedar Grove

The biggest hurdle to overnight kayaking is alcohol. You really can’t pack much beer on a kayak and drinking hard alcohol all day can turn into a kayak-flipping disaster. We decided two days at a time was feasible to carry beer. If we did more than two days we would carry hard alcohol and soda and just not drink as much and start drinking late in the day. Of course you could always decided to not drink at all, but that would eliminate most of the challenge!

We launched our boats from Cedar Grove at 11am on Wednesday morning. It was a little later than we wanted to start, but still feasible to make it to our halfway point, Pulltite Spring 18 miles downriver. When we tested our boats at home we did not have all the food & beer packed, so the kayaks were a little more heavy than we anticipated. So now we’re paddling heavy boats 18 miles in 7 hours. Better paddle hard!

current river

current river, medlock spring

Medlock Spring spills from the rocks

medlock spring, current river

Medlock Spring

Our first stop was at Medlock Spring. Medlock is a small spring that gushes from tiny opening in the rocks and tumbles down to the river. There is also a cave up above the spring opening, but we did not explore as we had 16 miles left to paddle.

Two miles down from Medlock is Welch Spring. Welch Spring is in the top 10 of Missouri’s largest springs and has a powerful flow. The spring gushes out of a cave opening and runs into the river with such force that it overtakes the current of the stream. Welch spring was originally homesteaded in 1855 by Thomas Welch, who then ran a grist mill on the spring until the turn of the 20th century. Then it was bought by Dr. Diehl in 1913. Dr. Diehl built a hospital over an opening in the cave and planned to attract patients suffering from breathing ailments to the healing spring waters and cave vapors. His project never really took off as the roads in the Ozarks were little more than rough trails at the time and it was hard to attract patients to the middle of nowhere. The walls of the hospital building still stand at the edge of the spring. It’s neat to wander around the building and imagine what it would have been like to be treated for consumption in the middle of the wilderness in 1915.

current river, welch spring

Welch Spring

current river, welch spring

Welch Spring viewed from the river

current river

Three miles down from Welch is Akers Ferry. This is the last operational ferry in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. There is also an access and camp store on the left side of the river. The ferry runs during daylight hours and is only $4 per vehicle to cross. It has been in operation for over 50 years but I have only seen it running once so I don’t think it gets too much traffic these days.

current river, akers ferry

Akers Ferry

current river, akers ferry

The river ferry at Akers

current river, blue heron

current river

current river

After Akers we stopped for a short lunch break and a swim. It was just barely warm enough to get in the water without being uncomfortable. This would be my first and last swim of the entire trip as the rest of the week was cooler and the water didn’t get any warmer! After lunch we continued our mad paddle to the halfway point. At one point we saw a river otter crossing the water with a large crawdad in its mouth. You don’t see too many otters on the river. They are pretty reclusive and don’t come out much around humans, so it’s really cool to see one on a quiet day.

current river

current river, cave spring

DW paddles into Cave Spring

current river, cave spring

Cave Spring

Five miles upriver from Pulltite is Cave Spring. This cave is in a bluff on the river bank so you can paddle into it. The water at the back of the cave is 120 ft. deep and comes from nearby Devil’s Well. Devil’s Well is a deep, water-filled sinkhole about a mile away from the cave. It’s pretty neat as far as sinkholes go and is worth a visit if you’re in the area.

current river

current river, pulltite

Pulltite access

current river, pulltite spring

The trail to Pulltite Spring

current river, pulltite spring

The cabin at Pulltite Spring

current river, pulltite spring

Inside the cabin

current river, pulltite spring

Pulltite Spring

Around 4:30 we finally passed Pulltite access. We stopped at the spring, which is across the river and 3/4 mile down from the access. Pulltite is one of our favorite areas on the Current. The campground isn’t very big and can get pretty crowded in the summer, but if you’re lucky enough to camp there in the off season its peaceful and picturesque. There are numerous campsites along the river and a short hiking trail goes along the stream at the back of the campground. Pulltite Spring is one of the most beautiful springs in the area. A short trail leads along the spring branch from the river. Right before the spring hole is an old cabin built in 1913 by the spring’s owners. The cabin is built in the French style with logs placed upright to avoid having to notch them. My favorite thing about the cabin is the large fireplace in the center of the room; it looks so cozy! Just up the trail from the cabin is the spring. Pulltite, like most Ozark springs, was once the site of a grist mill. The story is that Pulltite got its name because the horses had to pull tight to haul the grain up the steep mountain from the valley floor. The wagon drivers then had to brake the back wheels with a log and pull tight on the reins to keep the wagon from hurtling down the mountain. Pulltite Spring used to have 3 dams to run the mill, but they were all dismantled around the turn of the 20th century when the mill stopped production.

Pulltite Spring was our actual half way point. After we explored the spring we got back in the boats and started looking for a good gravel bar to camp. It seems that everyone floating that day was camping on the river overnight. We passed two or three good sites that were already occupied. DW and I always joke that the perfect camping spot is just around the bend from wherever we decide to stop for the night. It seems we always get on the river in the morning, paddle around the bend and there is a large gravel bar across from a towering bluff that looks much nicer than where we just came from. Since we can’t carry fire wood on a kayak a site with ample access to dead wood was a bonus. We kept paddling, looking for the perfect spot. Right around dusk we saw a spot just down from a bluff that had a large stack of dead wood from the previous occupants. We decided we weren’t going to get anything better this close to dark so we unpacked the boats and set up camp. DW got the fire started and I set up the tent. Then we got out our fancy camp chairs (legless so they take up little room and give plenty of opportunity to commune with creepy crawlers), cooked dinner on our backpacking stove and settled in for the night.

current river

The bluff upriver from camp

current river

DW paddles under a precarious tree

current river, sinking creek

Sinking Creek

current river

The night passed uneventfully and we woke up the next morning, ate cold cereal, put on our cold float clothes and packed camp back into the boats. We were on the river by 9am. It’s lucky we stopped for the night where we did because we did not see another suitable gravel bar for miles. It would have been past dark by the time we found another campsite! The first landmark we passed was Sinking Creek on the left side of the river. There is a conservation area campground here and it looks like it has been improved since the last time we were in the area. Sinking Creek is popular in the summer as it is cheaper than the state parks or national forest campgrounds along the river.

current river, hwy. 19 bridge, round spring

Hwy. 19 bridge at Round Spring

current river, round spring

Round Spring State Park

current river, round spring

Round Spring

current river

Deer graze on the river bank

A few miles down from Sinking Creek is Round Spring. Round Spring is a nearly perfect circular depression in the hill with an average flow of 26 million gallons per day. Local legend says that an angry Indian chief stomped the ground until the hollow formed and filled with water. Round Spring was one of Missouri’s first state parks. Even though it is still referred to as a state park, round spring was incorporated into the National Park system as part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in the 1960s.

current river

current river

current river

current river, bald eagle

A Bald Eagle above the bluff

current river, two rivers

Two Rivers

The remainder of the day went by quickly and without much excitement. We did see a couple of deer grazing on the river bank and a bunch of bald eagles flying over the bluffs. We stopped for lunch at a random picnic table on a large gravel bar. It was an obvious fish gigging access as the table was littered with fish scales. We saw few people on the river and those we did see were all camping overnight. I guess the weekday is for overnight floaters! We reached Two Rivers, where the Jack’s Fork enters the Current, around 4pm. We unpacked the boats, loaded up and drove for about an hour to the Eleven Point to continue our next two days of floating.

Critter Count: Turtles, Blue Herons, Green Herons, Kingfishers, Ducks, 1 Hawk, 4 Bald Eagles, 2 Deer, 1 River Otter with Crawdad Lunch Special

Float #10: Jacks Fork River

24 Jun

Eminence to Two Rivers

jacks fork river map

Jacks Fork River
Shannon County, Missouri
Sunday, June 19
8 Miles

Our second day of floating the Jacks Fork started with rain again. It didn’t last as long into the morning this time and we packed up camp and were running shuttle by 10:30. Our friend Gregg and the boys headed home to spend Father’s Day with their families and we were joined by our longtime float buddy, Jess. Jess borrowed the red kayak so we were canoe free for the day. We offloaded the boats at Eminence, where we had taken out the day before. The Eminence access isn’t labeled from the road, but it is easy to find. There is a small road just to the north of Windy’s canoe rental that takes you down to the southwest side of the bridge.

eminence access jacks fork river

Eminence bridge at the access

turtle jacks fork river

A turtle sunning

By the time we hit the water the sun was out and it was already hot. The first mile of this trip is still within town and there are some campgrounds and a public park river access with motor boat ramps. This section of the river is always a treasure trove of bonus prizes. The last time we floated here we found a cooler and a lawn chair tangled in the willows. This time DW found a Splash Bomb water frisbee and a water cannon (a large water gun). We had fun with both throughout the trip.

jacks fork river

jacks fork river

Stopping for lunch and a swim

We spent most of this trip swimming, picking up trash and taking it easy. No one wanted the weekend to end! We stopped for lunch by a nice bluff with a deep swimming hole. We didn’t see much wildlife out of the ordinary.

4 miles down from Eminence is Shawnee Creek. There is a campground and access here. Several locals were swimming and we caught up with some other kayakers. We also saw our first motor boat of the whole trip, which is a nice thing about the Jacks. It is usually too shallow for motor boats and most of them use the nearby Current river. After Shawnee Creek the river gets wider and a little bit slower as it nears the Current river. Our takeout was at Two Rivers, which is less than a mile down the Current river from the confluence. Two Rivers has a nice riverside campground, camp store and rental service. We got off the water at 5pm, loaded up our kayaks and headed home. It was a great weekend on the river and I can’t wait to get away again.

jacks fork river

Jumping rock

jacks fork river

Alex and Charlie

two rivers jacks fork current

The confluence at Two Rivers

Critter Count: Blue Herons, Green Herons, Ducks, Turtles

Bonus Prizes: Water Frisbee, Water Canon