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Boating..................... 5 Calendar................. 23 Classified........... 25-26 Editorial.................... 6 Fishing....... 10, 15, 16 Floating.............. 3, 17 History........... 6, 8, 21 Hunting......... 7, 8, 20

Indians.................... 21 Nature..... 6, 13, 15, 19 Outdoor News.3, 8, 19 Recipes, Food... 20, 22 Seasons................... 10 SunMoon................ 10 Trapping................. 10

Traveler River Hills

ISSN 87501899

FEBRUARY 7, 2014

VOL. 41, NO. 7

124 miles on F Current River

Story & photos by Mike Kircher The bluff at Big Creek: “may be the prettiest stretch of river we passed.”


Clearwater Lake....................................15 Lower Current & Eleven Point River...17 Lower Meramec River..........................18 Parkland/Arcadia Valley/Black River...27 Upper Current & Jacks Fork Rivers......16 Upper Meramec, Huzzah, Courtois......18 Wappapello Lake..................................15

ST. CLAIR, MO 63077

or many years, around many campfires, we had been talking about floating the Current River from Montauk Spring down as far as maybe Van Buren. We would take a week’s vacation sometime and do it. Last year turned out to be the year. On our spring float, Steve announced that his wife was going on a week’s trip in July with her mother and he had a free pass. We decided to go for it. Steve, Mark and I each have our own canoes. We’ve been floating together for years, logging at least 100 float trips together, with sometimes as many as 10 floats in a season. After consulting A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri, we decided to float from Baptist Camp to Doniphan, 124 miles. After so many overnight floats, mostly on the Current, Jacks Fork and Eleven Point Rivers, we’ve come to know what to expect from each other. Each guy would be responsible for two meals. Steve and Mark know I’m a good cook and always surprising them with some new delicacy. Mark and I knew Steve would bring the great seasoned pork steaks he gets from a local meat shop. Steve and I know Mark works wonders with simple things like green beans and black eyed peas. The food was a cinch, but what of the other logistics? Everybody asks “How did you get your vehicle from one end to Continued on Page 2

DGMP commenters share passion for Riverways


By Jo Schaper On Nov. 8, 2013, NPS released the Draft General the 60-day comment period to Feb. 8. hen the National Park Service Management Plan and Big Spring Wilderness As of Jan. 31, over 1,000 written comments had asked for public comment on the Environmental Impact Statement, for a 60-day been received by the park, as well as an earful 534-page draft Draft General of informal feedback from groups as diverse Management Plan for the Ozark as longtime native residents of the area, National Scenic Riverways, it opened the door environmentalists, equestrians, paddle sport for a flood of diverse, creative and stronglyenthusiasts, motorized boat users, wilderness held views. And that’s what the NPS received advocates, local, state and federal government in four public meetings and written and online officials, rock climbers, and people several states responses during the public comment period away who vacation on Riverways. ending Feb. 8. Four alternatives were proposed in the GMP By the time Traveler arrives, officials at document: No Action, and Alternatives A, B and park service headquarters in Van Buren will C. A, B, and C proceeded from highly restrictive, be wading through the responses, which may to moderately restrictive, to less restrictive of help to chart a course for the Ozark National access to park resources and acceptable future Scenic Riverways for the next 20 or so years. visitor behavior. “I was very pleased with the outcome The NPS preferred alternative, Alternative B, of the public meetings, and the tremendous was decided upon by park managers at several public interest,” said Park Superintendent Bill CAPACITY CROWD — More than 500 people turned out for the levels, not just Washington, D.C. nor Van Buren, Black. “At all of the meetings, the people have final open house on the DGMP at Powder Valley Nature Center said a park employee who declined to be named. in Kirkwood Jan. 22. Jo Schaper photo. been passionate about the rivers.” A No Action alternative had to be included, Nearly 1,500 people attended meetings in however park officials said from the beginning Eminence, Salem, Van Buren and Kirkwood, a St. comment period ending Jan. 8. Inclement winter that “no action” was not acceptable. This led to Louis suburb. weather postponed the meetings twice, and extended Continued on Page 24

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A journey of 124 miles begins with vehicle drop at the end Continued on Page 1 least 24 hours. Nothing warm goes in the other?” the cooler. Simple. We met on Friday night We packed a small cooler each at Steve’s house near Doniphan. We morning for the day so we had no loaded everything on Steve’s canoe need to open our big coolers until trailer and left our vehicles there. dinner time. Of course, we did buy Steve had a buddy from work ride fresh ice at many of the canoe rentals with us on Saturday to the put in we passed. and drive the My original truck back to plan was to take Doniphan. only 28 beers and We shoved allow myself four off from Baptist beers each day. Camp on The first day I Saturday, July 13 drank eight beers at 10 a.m. Our so that plan didn’t plan was to do 10 work. It didn’t to 12 miles the take long to figure first day. out that the canoe We camped rentals all sold just below Welch beer. Spring. Our On Sunday routine each day morning we made was to get off a stop at Akers’ VETERAN FLOATER — After 12 years of the river about Ferry for ice. floating, Jesse takes it all in stride. 4 p.m., set up Aker’s has a neat camp and gather store with nice firewood. Then we would relax in the people. They were even nice to my river for about an hour, take our daily dog, Jesse. bath and cook supper. For our first We paddled back into Cave Spring meal we decided to celebrate and start and did the walk back to Pulltite with filet mignon. Spring. That night we camped at When you do a trip like this you Sinking Creek. Steve figured out that have to learn good ice management. if we swam in the river first, the water I had four bottles of frozen water in in Sinking Creek would feel like my cooler and everything that could bath water. Then we enjoyed Mark’s be frozen was frozen. Everything put marinated chicken breast. in the cooler had been refrigerated at We made a brief stop at Carr’s at

LOADED AND READY — The three canoeists put in at Baptist Camp with sunshine sparkling the Current on a Saturday morning.

Round Springs Monday morning for ice. While there, I heard a commotion across the river. I looked and saw several of the wild horses we had stirred up retreating into the woods. That day we passed Big Creek. With the beautiful bluff and huge gravel bar, this was maybe the prettiest stretch of river we passed. We camped about a mile above Two Rivers. That night I cooked the pork filet mignon, always a hit on the gravel bar. That night we had maybe our best fire of the week. After the spring floods this year, there was no shortage of dead wood on any gravel bar. On Tuesday morning, we were on the river by 8 a.m. and shortly at Two Rivers. This was a serious ice stop, since we had no more ice available until Van Buren, about 34 miles away.

That night we camped across from Paint Rock access and enjoyed some of Steve’s pork steaks. It was here we encountered a very persistent raccoon that even Jesse couldn’t chase away. Let me tell you about my dog. Jesse has been floating with me for 12 years. Many people have told me he is the best floating dog they have ever seen. He won’t jump out of the canoe until I tell him he can. He has been known to swim a mile at a time. When he is tired and wants back in, he lets me know. I wanted to take him on this trip because Jesse is 12 years old and I don’t know how many good years he has left in him. Seeing how he handled this trip, I think he’s got a few more left. Continued on Page 4

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February 2014


Stream gages restored on Upper Jacks Fork, Current

By Jo Schaper Two of the most important recreational stream gages in Missouri were shut down on New Year's Eve for lack of funding, but agitation from the public which uses those gages enabled the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to craft a solution to keep them operating until next NOT AN OUTHOUSE Sept. 30. — A typical USGS The gages, on stream gage station, the Jacks Fork at shown here inside Hwy. 17 and the and out, is run on upper Current batteries, augmented River just above by solar power. PhoAkers Ferry, tos courtesy USGS. were shut down when they lost funding from the National Park Service. The physical river gages belong to the USGS, which has the expertise to run them and maintain the data, a task it does with cost-share money from other agencies or companies which pay about $15,000 a year per gage. Service was restored Jan. 21. “USGS is able to fund some gages relating to the National Streamflow Information System, and a couple of those were being funded by Missouri

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February 2014


Paddlers survive week without showers, toilets, air conditioning Continued from Page 2 down the river each day. Steve had said that maybe we could have a fish fry one night, so I brought along some cornmeal and oil. But they didn’t catch much, so no fish fry. That is all I will say about that. It was on Wednesday when we started meeting all the fishermen on the river in the morning. Many

of these were retired men living the dream. As we approached Van Buren, we were shocked at the proliferation of houses on the river. Nice houses. We stopped around noon at The Landing to restock on ice. The Landing has grown to be quite an impressive place that I hear is a zoo on Saturdays. We floated on down about four miles to Big Spring. I had

not been there do a lot more in a long time. paddling. And There is a we started place at the passing a lot of mouth of the houses on the spring to tie river. up, then we We had walked up to trouble finding the spring. a gravel bar After the big that wasn’t rains this year, marked private Big Spring property or was really within sight of gushing. a house. But Mingo Swamp Friends That night we found one, Photo Contest 2013 we camped DINING IN STYLE — Mike’s pork filet mignons are maybe the somewhere always a hit on a gravel bar, especially with black best one of the See the exhibit of winning photos around the beans, onion, red pepper and white asparagus with week. at 95-mile mark garlic and butter. The fourth filet is for Jesse. That night, Burr Oak Conservation Nature Center of our trip. we had Blue Springs, Mo. That night I made my new recipe I Mark’s last meal. Mark’s wife had in February found for Cajun casserole, made with brought home a gallon size can of andouille sausage. It was a big hit. Dinty Moore beef stew. After Mark “Ain’t Nuttin’ Better” On Thursday, we were on our doctored it up with onions and spices, by Katelyn Clark home stretch. We knew we would it was delicious. And with plenty of 2nd Place - Native Wildlife pass the 100-mile mark on our leftovers, Jesse had his fill also. Youth Division journey at Panther Spring. We started We figured we started Friday experiencing longer and deeper pools morning with about 13 miles to go. Sponsored by West Side Camera of water. Through Wednesday, pretty This was the hottest day so far. All 837 N. Kingshighway much all we had to do was steer. We week we had great weather with Cape Girardeau, MO 63701 Clearwater Lake Visitor’s Guide, 2014, page 40 DO NOT PRINT PAGE NUMBER figured we were averaging about three 80’s during the day and 60’s at 573-335-4334 miles an hour without much effort. night. It rained on us a few times for That changed this day. We had to maybe 20-30 minutes. Now we were encountering a lot of long deep pools. No just steering here. You had to 573-461-2244 Check out our WEBSITE! paddle. FAX 573-461-2222 The Jet Doctor It was here that there were houses Email: on the river everywhere. Really nice houses. Many of these had steps that led right down to the river. I guess this is progress. Here the river is realigned to fit the needs of the people. I can Your Shallow Water Headquarters only imagine that some day we will Route H before Clearwater Lake, Ellington, MO regret this. The river always wins. We arrived at the ramp in Doniphan 1856 Flat Weldcraft Bass Boat w/ 225 Evinrude E-TEC. H.O. about 3 p.m. on Friday. I must admit, I was worn out. We all talked about how we could go farther. But I think we were all ready to get off 60/40 hp the river. We hadn’t experienced 60/40hp 4-stroke air conditioning, used a toilet or Jet Jet taken a shower in a week. And we really didn’t miss those modern conveniences. I have always wondered how the Current and Jack’s Fork Rivers got Mercury chosen for the Ozark National Scenic & Evinrude Riverways. Now I know, these rivers E-TEC Jets. Blazer SS w/Mercury 60/40 Jet are treasures that need to be preserved. 25 hp Without this protection, I can only to imagine that the entire river would be 250 hp lined with houses. It was a great week, we met a lot of nice people on the river. I want to thank my floating buddies Steve and Mark for a great week. I remember about 20 years ago we were standing on a gravel bar and we looked at each other and said Boats and Motors Water Tested and Ready to Go! “When will we be too old to do this Full line of anymore?” Let’s hope we have many • Dealer for Mercury, Evinrude, more float trips to go. It will be hard to marine and outboard jet Outboards Jet Drives. Blazer Sport, beat this one. accessories 25 hp Legend Craft, Weld Craft, Mike Kircher lives in Eureka. His 4-stroke Xterminator Boats, Rivercraft Trailers floating partners, both formerly Jet of Eureka, are Steve Amalong, Fairdealing, and Mark Tweet, Pomme de Terre Lake. Mike’s recipe for One Mile from Clearwater Lake Cajun casserole can be found at www.

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February 2014 River Hills Traveler  

Sample of River Hills Traveler, outdoor magazine of East, Southeast and South Central Missouri Ozarks and Bootheel

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