Monday, June 13, 2011

The Eleven Point River

Saturday morning, my buddy Brian D. picked me up at 5:30 a.m. and we loaded up the camping gear and headed three hours east to the Eleven Point River. Brian borrowed his dad's square-sterned canoe earlier in the week so we didn't have to arrange a rental, just a shuttle for the truck when we got there. We had Hufstedler's Canoe Rental shuttle our truck for us. They were really nice and after an inquiry about old wooden johnboats, the older fellow that drove us down to the river gave us a good history of guide work and float boats on the Eleven Point.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

We put in the river at Turner's Mill, with the intention of staying at White's Creek River Camp about halfway down the 14 mile trip. We ended up blowing past that camp area and staying at Green Briar Camp. White's Creek wasn't marked well.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point is a cold and quick moving stream. Greer Spring, with 354 cubic feet of water discharged per second, empties into the river five and a half miles above where we put our canoe in. It doubles the size of the river in the process. The cold water makes it a pretty decent trout fishing river. Brian caught the only fish of the two day trip, a rainbow trout. We let him go.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

Brian and a trout. The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

We were chased by clouds most of our day, Saturday. They got progressively more ominous and grumpy sounding. Calling it a day, we hurriedly set up camp before the rain hit us. And boy-howdy, did it. It came down hard, just after we got both tents up and a tarp lean-to tied up. We had the place to ourselves, even if a bit waterlogged. Well, for a little while. About 20 minutes later the canoes and kayaks just started rolling in.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

Soggy and confused boat campers ran all over the place, trying to find a place for their tents and a way to get out of the squall-like thunderstorm. The temp had dropped a bit and it was easy to be shaken by the close lightning strikes and thunder echoing down the river valley and cliff walls. Some eventually took to their hastily thrown up tents, others got into arguments under the stress and chucked all their gear back into their canoes unpacked and left in the rain. And others were still arriving. One family packed themselves into their tents, but the dad and his golden retriever Duncan came over and hung out under our tarp and chatted for a while. The man's name was Steve or Stephen, up from Oxford, Mississippi. His whole family was very upbeat, considering the situation. Not one of them complained about the rain or tight camping conditions.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

Another large group, a handful of men, one woman and two young boys came bounding up the rainy, muddy trail that led from the river. Having nowhere to put their tents up and get out of the weather, we made room in our campsite for them. They were in pretty rough spirits by the time they'd gotten to where we were camped. Even having tried to sit the weather out in the open for quite a while. The two boys' lips were turning blue and they were starting to get a little hypothermic. After the rain gave way, damage was assessed and most of the group's gear was soaked. We ended up sharing our dry lighters, camp stoves and misc. other stuff throughout the evening.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

They ended up being great camp neighbors. There was a guy named David who manages the Bass Pro Shops in Memphis, Tennessee, father of the two boys. Another guy that I forgot his name, but he was pretty funny and I believe, married to the woman, who was very nice. And then there was William and his son Will, who had built a 36' James Wharram Tangaroa catamaran in their garage and attached greenhouse. I had overheard William talking about sailing and pressed him about his boat. I think Wharram boats are pretty awesome, so I was really interested in hearing all about the build and where he sailed it.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

Sunday morning, we got up, ate breakfast and had coffee. Chatted a bit more with the neighbors, then packed up to get back on the river. Did a little more fishing as we drifted through some of the slower moving pools. We eventually meandered down to where Boze Mill Spring entered the river. After a quick hard paddle and drag up the mouth of the short spring creek, we parked our canoe at the base of the mill pond and hiked up to the main spring blue hole. The spring was really really cold. I jumped in over my head and came up whoop'n and holler'n like a freshly baptized revivalist.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

Blackberries, The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

Shortly after the spring, we pulled up into an eddy and ate lunch on a gravel bar.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

Back in the canoe, we debated on what course of action to take when the river splits a little way below Boze Mill Spring. We took the left, seeming the least likely of getting us soaked. We were wrong. trees completely blocked the left passage and we had to backpaddle hard against the current to keep from heading directly towards them. Luckily we managed to to stall ourselves out against one bank before we jumped in and started to drag back up to the mouth of the offshoot stream and into the main branch. Still not completely comfortable with our choices, we drug the boat to an island in the middle of the main river, beached it and scouted out the rapids that ran to the the right. Then we committed to the quick-moving outer right passage. It was fast, but not nearly as scary as it first appeared. Shortly after, the float ended at the Riverton Hwy 160 bridge.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

All-in-all, a great float trip. Got to canoe one of the more wild-seeming rivers in the state, met a great group of people and spent two days relaxing in the outdoors. We saw plenty of blue herons and several smaller ones I don't know the name for, plenty of martins, blue jays, crows and other birds. The cicadas were everywhere and along with the bullfrogs, lulled us to sleep Saturday night. The only downside was the occasional hum of the locals on their motored aluminum johnboats. While a pain in the butt, I do realize it's "their river" and we were just visiting.

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

The Eleven Point River, June 2011

A couple quick sketches done while sitting under a tarp, waiting for the rain to quit.

trees, sketched under a tarp while waiting for it to stop raining on a recent camp/canoe trip

leaf, sketched under a tarp while waiting for it to stop raining on a recent camp/canoe trip

4 comments:

altonwoods said...

I very much enjoyed reading your float story, I live in Alton and work shuttling canoes so I'm very familiar with the river and all the local springs. I hear lots of "float stories" from people when I pick them up,the river can push people beyond their comfort levels at times but the majority are about how much fun it was and how peaceful it is even with the jet boats! Take care, maybe I'll bump into you sometime at Riverton!

Trevor said...

Thanks for the comment. It's a beautiful stream. Easily one of the prettier rivers i've been on in Missouri. I plan to get back to it as regularly as possible.

Anthony Lee said...

Trevor,

I enjoyed reading the entertaining story you posted. I am one of the two recreation technicians that maintains the Eleven Point. I sometimes don't realize how many folks, from so many different places, enjoy this river. I wanted to let you know that we are making several improvements to our float camps. We are adding new fire rings, lantern posts, and rebuilding several canoe docks. Boze was the first to be completed. We are currently working on Greenbriar, and then Horseshoe Bend. Signing will also be improved. Thanks again for your excellent account.

Anthony Lee
US Forest Service
573 996 2153

Trevor said...

Anthony,

The Eleven Point is one of my favorite local rivers. I need to get back over there soon. Keep up the good work! Thanks for commenting!