By Steve Halter
It was April 1st and “Stay at Home Orders” were being tossed around like corn hole bags on the 4th of July on Current River.
I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and also get a break from the texts, emails, and news concerning COVID-19.
I have always wanted to kayak all 49 miles of Eleven Point River (in the state of Missouri) but never carved out the time to do it.
I have done many sections from Cane Bluff to Highway 142 bridge, but I have never been above or below either spot. My favorite section has always been from Greer Spring to Riverton.
The Sunday before my planned trip, my wife and I took off and drove to the put-in spot at Thomasville, Mo., and the take-out spot at Myrtle access.
We looked for a place to pull out just at the Missouri/Arkansas line, but it appeared to be a lot of private ground, so I was just going to have to settle with taking out after 48 miles.
With my sights set on doing it in two days, I loaded all my lightweight/compact mountain gear into my 10-foot Pungo classic kayak.
The plan was for my wife to drop me off at the Thomasville bridge and pick me up the next evening at Myrtle access. As always, I brought my Garmin Inreach Delorme satellite texting system, in case of an emergency.
As a side story, I recently went out to my new elk hunting spot in Colorado and on the way out came upon two guys walking on a Forest Service road in dry suits and kayaking boots.
They had overshot their take-out spot by 6.5 miles and it was getting dark and they were tired and very frustrated. Had I not given them a ride, it would have been a miserable night for them.
The moral of the story, always carry a GPS and a way to communicate when in remote areas!
Ok, back to my adventure. My wife and I woke up well before daylight and made the one-hour drive from Poplar Bluff to Thomasville.
It was in the mid-30’s so I layered up and wore gloves to start off the trip. Right at first light I dropped my kayak in the river next to the bridge and off I went.
After only 5 minutes on the river I came to a bend and all I could see was a large tree over the entire river.
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The riverbank was steep so I just had to pick a spot with small limbs and plow through it. I just knew I was going to dump my kayak.
Although everything I had was in dry bags, I sure didn’t want to get my body wet to start the day; especially since it was in the 30’s.
Luckily I made it through OK, only to find a really nice put-in spot around the bend. Lesson learned; better scouting mission next time. Oh well, it makes for a great story.
The next 9 miles or so were so peaceful and featured incredibly beautiful scenery. I passed through a couple of homesteads that made me very envious.