On a whim, we decided to hit the Current River with a group of Neil’s friends this weekend. They are camping and floating weekend warriors, often starting as early as January and sometimes taking trips in late November as weather permits. With my crazy schedule this semester, this is the first time I’ve been able to go, so I was determined to make it, come hell or high water. Little did we know, one of those situations would be greeting us very soon.
With all the rain we’ve had in the past month, the river was quite swollen. One one hand, it made the normal shallow points in the river easy to navigate in a canoe, a perk that allows consistent momentum and little worry about scraping the bottom of the river. On the other, it required close attention because the river was moving FAST. The first 11 miles of our 22 mile float were swiftly over in a matter of several hours. A quick look at our Garmin GPS indicated that without paddling, we were floating at a rate of 5-6 miles per hour. Definitely more of an amusement park water ride than a lazy river float.
I was not the only new member along for the trip, Clive also made his debut on the river this weekend. We’ve been wanting to get him on a trip to get a sense of how he’d do in more remote camping situations, and an overnight float seemed the perfect short test run. The only sticky point was the whole floating part. If you remember from a few of our trips (here and here) last year, Clive is not a fan of the water. So how would he fare in a canoe?
Lucky for us, Clive took right to canoeing. After a few minutes of nervous shaking after drop-in, he was quickly diverted by the tour of what had to have been his nose’s paradise. He just kept smelling and smelling, watching the world go by and having someone paddle him around. He is a spoiled pup after all.
While Clive took to floating like a champ, we were unprepared for the weather. After being spoiled with warmer temperatures all week, they suddenly plunged into the 50’s on Saturday. On the river, it felt more like lower 40’s. Despite Neil’s calm and happy demeanor in this photo, we were freezing. Look at his purple legs and you’ll understand why he switched to pants on the next stop. The photo bombers behind him had the right idea.
We saw some amazing sights. Beautiful cave openings flooded with bright aqua water in the rocks and freshwater springs. This was the biggest one and there were about six canoes and kayaks in there.
I also saw my first Brood 19 Cicada of the season. I work in a plant sciences and entomology department, so I’ve been hearing a lot of about their impending arrival. They are here a little earlier than expected, and are a lot bigger than I remember. Don’t worry, it was dead, I just couldn’t help but get a macro shot of the wings, aren’t they beautiful?
I snapped a shot of my finger, which was completely numb after about an hour. I’ve had frostbite before (its basically a rite of passage in Minnesota), and this is the closest I’ve felt to having it again. I wanted to remember my finger in case I lost it.
About a quarter of the way into our float we had our first and only dump of the trip. A dump is when someone overturns, usually as a result of hitting something in the water, or something in the way of the path. In this case, it was tree that had recently fallen over the water. One of Neil’s friends, Justin, brought his cousin, Kaycia, and she followed Neil’s brother Ben into a more narrow pathway and got snagged by the tree, which overturned her kayak. Poor girl was soaked to the bone and her kayak quickly filled with water and started to sink as it kept moving down river. Justin quickly retrieved it while Ben got her to the nearest sandbar. Justin towed it ashore, emptied the water, then decided to swim it upstream to her.
Grazy bastard! That water was freezing! Don’t judge, but I couldn’t have done it. Maybe I’m just not that good of a person…
With two of our group members soaked, and the cloudy day quickly growing darker, we decided to make camp at the next sand bar and get a fire going.
With the brief appearance of sun, the smorgasbord was on! If Clive had any doubts about camping, they were quickly gone when he realized there was people food to be had.
Matt quickly became his new best friend. He had hot dogs and snacks!
“What do you have that I can have?”
Stringing up a pineapple. Apparently this is a Futurama reference? Anyone? I was just ready to eat it. Fresh pineapple has to be my favorite fruit.
Neil sliced it up like a pro, I was so proud. It was a sticky mess though. Pineapple is not really an optimal camping food choice. Its deliciousness redeemed it though.
How about some pineapple and kielbasa kabobs with complimentary penis jokes on the side? One can not expect to camp with men without such topical entertainment.
We ate so much food! I was SO stuffed and didn’t partake of nearly 1/3 of what everyone brought to share. I love the simplicity and informal nature of camping food. No one is pretentious, everyone shares, and everything cooked over a fire has a beautiful flavor.
Oh look it’s me! Neil snagged the camera to get a few shots and got one of me before I noticed. Is it weird that this is my blog and there are rarely any pictures of me?
Water brought to us by Ben. This is a really sweet device that Neil and I would like to someday add to our inventory. It’s called the Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter. It’s great when you’re in large or small groups. There’s no pumping or repetitive trips to the river to filter enough for a CamelBak or Nalgene bottle. Simply fill the bag and hang it, and it filters as you use it.
We sat by the fire late into the night and finally passed out around midnight. I always fall asleep early on trips and wake up around 5 or 6 am. Maybe I should sleep outdoors more often?
The next morning…
No, raccoons did not get into camp, this is all us. I can’t decide whether to call this “Beer-nado” or “The Morning After.” I think it is accurate to say we had a great night.
Bacon and eggs for breakfast, with a twist…
…in a bun with a hot dog? I stuck with eggs and salsa.
Soon it was time to hit the river again and head home. Clive was suited up and ready to go. He even hopped in the canoe on his own. I’m so proud of my little water dog! We’re definitely going to get him a better float coat for the next trip. This one is great for little lake trips, but he’s in need of something more serious and better fitting for movement. We’re eyeing The Big Eddy by Ruffwear, but are open to suggestions if you have any!
So even though it was cold and we didn’t swim and really didn’t see a lick of sunlight, we had a great time. The river was quiet, we rarely saw another soul and it was great to really feel like we were leaving civilization and spending time with friends and each other. This was my first Current River trip, and of the rivers I’ve canoed in Missouri thus far, this has been my favorite. We’re definitely going to have to save a little money and expand our inventory to include kayaks and a canoe. The further we dive into camping and backpacking the more we see our gear needs changing. It doesn’t help that companies are constantly putting out great tools that make packing and enjoying the trip easier!
Stay tuned, I have a few new camping recipes to share! I’ll give you a hint: browned butter and bourbon…
If you’re interested in canoeing the Current River, you can find more information and trip planning routes and tips here.
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I remember the summer (98?) I rented my 1st apartment in CoMo there was a huge cicada hatching and we could not keep them out of the house. They were EVERYWHERE! And that constant humming sound…I had no idea what was going on, it kind of freaked this northern girl out.
Yup, that’s what we’re in for. The last brood of the same size was in ’98, and this one is expected to be even worse. They say in wooded areas there could be over a million per acre. Not looking forward to it.
Yes to canoe camping trips! Your photos are great and it’s so cool to see what a trip down the river looks like in another part of the country. I’m cracking up over your descriptions of how cold it was – on our last trip, we were jumping in the water to cool off because it was in the 90’s. Oh, Texas.
Your food looks a lot better than ours too – I need to get more creative when it comes to camping food. But I have to say that I’m most jealous of the fact that you can being Clive in the canoe! We haven’t figured out a way to canoe with our dogs yet. They’re so big that I don’t think the four of us would fit in a boat together. Also, they get nervous and one jerky movement could easily dump us. Hopefully we’ll figure it out one day.
I loved this post – the photos and the narrative. Camping is the best!
Well the weather this weekend is…highly unusual to say the least. Then again, this is Missouri, and last May was like this too. It felt very much like a Minnesota spring camping trip. It would have been nice if it were just about 10-15 degrees warmer. Not too hot for Clive, but warm enough to be comfortable. You can only layer the types of clothing that dry fast so much.
I think it’s easy to be creative when you camp with a group. Neil and I get a little creative when it’s just the two of us, but having 8 people contribute to the pool definitely helps. I think it also helps that it was a simple overnight, and we were floating rather than having to carry the stuff on our backs.
I can imagine that two black labs would definitely rock the boat a bit. Clive made me nervous a few times when he was bouncing from side to side to look out!
I shoot the pics with an old point and shoot that is about 4 years old. It has mixed results, so I usually just pick the best. Definitely not an SLR, but I’m just too scared to take it floating…
We’re planning to do one or two more trips on the Neches before we move at the end of July. Two more chances to camp like a real foodie! 😉
Haha, are you scouting camping spots in your new locale?
Clive looks so cute – scared one minute and trying to “manipulate food” from someone the next minute. Just remembering the Jessica – who thought KOA’s were the most awful experience and “why couldn’t we stay in a motel like a “normal” family!!! Ha Ha
It’s easy when you’re married and no longer have to look good for boys. You’ll be surprised to know I’ve gone four days without a shower. FOUR. Your daughter, ME.
Additionally, I’d still rather pee next to a tree than a KOA bathroom…
Looks like a good trip. I grew up south of there in Winona as did JD. Lots of scenery and outdoors stuff to do!
I love it down there! There and near Branson have to be the prettiest areas in the state for sure! We’re headed back that way in July for Neil’s birthday float trip, I can’t wait.
looks like soooooo much fun. Jealous!! I am an avid Futurama fan by the way, but the pineapple on a string comment isn’t ringing a bell. Care to expand?
I really have no idea actually, it’s just what they were saying as they were doing it. They are boys…so who knows? I have video of it as well I still need to upload.
Oh my goodness, I just posted about a float/camping trip we took on the Current River today! It is incredibly similar to yours (dogs included)! How funny. I love all your pictures too. Sorry that it was so cold! I’ve been camping on the Current in February, so I understand!
Looks like you had a beautiful trip. LOVE your pictures. I think Fall is the only consistently good time to go camping in this state, which is sad, but I’ll take it I guess!