I have been paddling now for a few years, but have always done just day trips to several rivers within a couple hours of where I live in Nashville, so this was my first multi day trip. I had heard about the Current & Jacks Fork Rivers from a friend of mine several years ago, and the almost tropical blue waters you can get there. So I decided this was the year I was going to try and get several kayak/camp trips underneath my belt, with this 51 mile stretch being the first. I intended to do this trip with my river friends (people I kayak with often), but ended up going with two longtime friends that have only been in canoes/kayaks several times, or when they were younger.
We got to Eminence, Missouri around 7pm and camped along the Jacks Fork River. We went to Margie's Place for beer and food (highly recommend), and set off for the put in around 8am the next morning. We used an outfitter (http://www.windyscanoe.com/) because we were renting a canoe for gear, and it was a safe place to leave the truck. It took about an hour van ride to get to the put in spot at Baptist Camp. There is a bathroom there to use as well as some good spots for staging all the gear, which given it was the first time packing everything, it took us about an hour to get situated.
Baptist Camp to Cedargrove, the first 5 miles is some of the most beautiful in my opinion, although it was the most technically challenging. Lots of twists and turns, and shallow areas to drag the boats. There was a section with a couple of logs down across the river where we had to lift the boats over, but it worked out fine. There is a portage at Cedargrove, where you have to take the boats out again, but that was it for the rest of the trip. Every time we had to portage the boats I wished we had brought less stuff, but something to learn for next time!
We had planned to do the whole river over 3 nights and 4 days, with 15 miles done each of the first 3 days, and a short 5 mile stretch the last day. The first day we may have only done 10 miles maybe! With the portages and getting used to a new river and working together as a team we weren't as efficient as we were the remaining days, and we got on the river around 10.30am the first day (the other days we were on by 9am). We camped somewhere between Cedargrove and Welch Springs.
The second day we hit Welch Springs within an hour, so I'm guessing we camped 2-3 miles from the spring. We ended up doing a little over 20 miles the next day sort of not by our choosing. By the end of the day we were having a really difficult time finding a good camp site, and we could see a storm coming in down river (which never hit us fortunately). So the last couple of hours were some anxiety hours trying to find shelter before the storm. It took us a couple more hours of being on the river to find a good spot. That was a full day and we were all wiped out at the end, but were rewarded with a great gravel/sand bar to camp on, a big fire to sit by, and awesome night skies to look at. Beware of raccoons trying to steal your food at night, we had them the first two nights! We had Welch Spring, Cave Spring and Pulltite Spring all this day which were all beautiful and definitely the times we saw the most people, but still worth seeing!
The third day we did about 15 miles, and actually gave ourselves a little break by paddling more than intended the second day. This was the day we saw the least amount of people since it was Monday, and probably my favorite day on this trip. We had our systems down tight as a group, we restocked on some beer at the Round Spring store, and had long stretches where we didn't see anyone. It was peaceful and awesome. Again we actually floated a little further than we intended, making for a short 2-3 mile float the next day to the take out at Two Rivers.
Overall the trip was better than expected, and I expected a lot! I planned well, but we took too much stuff. I would give myself more time on the upper part on the river next time, and also make sure we had a better plan in case it stormed, because I think if it had that would have really changed the dynamic of the trip. I had thought that we would only be on the river each day maybe 6 hours or so, but man was I wrong. Each day with the exception of the last we were on for 10 hours! So we really pretty tired and thankful to make camp each night, but that kind of made the trip more rewarding! There were times I thought about doing a shorter distance next time, because there are just too many areas you want to stop to fish and swim. The river itself and the scenery around it are really beautiful, the pictures I am attaching to this report won't do it justice!
2-3 Day Trip
Kayaking, Canoeing, Kayak Fishing, Fishing
River/Creek (Up to Class II)
Number of Portages:
First one was a couple of trees down which wont always be there about 3 miles from Baptist Camp.
Second was Cedargrove which is a road across the river you have to take out the boats and put them in on the other side.
Seems pretty much like class I all the way, maybe some sections of class II in the upper parts. With so much gear the canoe was difficult to steer at times, but we didn't dump it once!
We took too much. But we ate and drank like kings! ; )
1 12' Native Watercraft Kayak
1 9.5' Perception Sunburst Kayak
1 Rental Canoe, maybe 14'
Very hot but bearable once on the river. We made sure to put sunscreen on often and wear protective clothing as often as possible.