First Float on the Current River

For weeks, I have been dreaming of doing an overnight float trip.  First and foremost, I wanted to float the upper current river, and second I wanted a chance to just get away and enjoy some nature.  I had been kind of targeting doing something in late September, once a large project I have been working on had slowed down.

Last week, I was at the customer site when I found out that the project implementation had been delayed until late September.  On one hand, that spoiled my plan, but on another hand, it opened up an opportunity for me to get away during Labor Day week.  With my wife and I’s work scheduled, I setup to leave on Wednesday for a Thursday return home.  My plan was to float the Current River from Cedar Grove to Round Spring.

I got up early on Wednesday morning and headed out.  I had arranged with Akers Ferry Canoe Rental to ferry my Jeep from put in to take out, but with the Ferry out of service, I had to go the long way to get to them to drop my keys off, then headed up to Cedar Grove.

Putting in at Cedar Grove, I loaded all of my gear in and headed out.  It didn’t take too long for me to realize that the kayak handles quite differently loaded down than it does with just me in it.  The most notable difference was that with the cooler in the back, the rear end sat just enough deeper that in a cross current, it had a strong tendency to swap ends.  That was complicated that in the early part of the river there was still a lot of submerged logs and “strainer” limbs eager to pin a kayak.

I worked through adjusting to the handling differences and arrived at the Welch Hospital ruins at about noon.  As I arrived, a nice gentleman was arriving on a hike with his dog.  I enjoyed a brief visit with him and his dog while I snapped some pictures and stopped to enjoy my lunch.  At this point I had been on the water a couple hours and covered about 5 miles of river, expecting about 27 for the whole trip.

At Akers Ferry, I knew I was making really good time and considered the option that I could complete the entire 27 miles in a single day.  While I was planning to camp, I didn’t really want to spend a lot of time sitting on a gravel bar just for the sake of stopping and extending the trip.  I paddled on past Akers with the idea in mind that I would have a better feel of how long it would take by the time I reached Pulltite.

I took a good long break at Cave Spring.  There were a couple of other couples there when I arrived, so I visited with them a bit.  Once they cleared out, I took a short video of paddling into and out of the cave, just to see if I could capture it as cool as it really was.

Leaving Cave Spring, I was really having a good time, but hit a section of the river where the water was moving much slower, and I was not sure I could keep up the rate of about 4.2 river miles per hour.   I also started seeing a bunch more wild life.  Lots of ducks, mink, and I even had a squirrel swim across the river right in front of me.  I had seen a few large birds in the distance, that I suspected might be bald eagles, but I had not been close enough to tell for sure.  At one point, I even had two deer on a gravel bar near my boat.  All of this with a wonderful fall breeze and leaves falling gently to the river.  It was very cool.

By Pulltite, I had decided that I was making good enough time, and I liked the idea of finishing the 27 mile trip in one day better than I liked the idea of camping.  One complication was that I was not sure that my Jeep would be at the take out point, as I had told them that I didn’t need it until the next morning.  I was able to communicate with my wife through my Garmin InReach GPS, so she called and checked on the status.  By that point, I felt like I had only two more hours until I completed the trip, and I would be off the water and loaded before dark, so I elected to go ahead and push to the end.

During the last couple of hours, I saw a lot more wildlife.  The best was when I saw a bald eagle catch a fish and carry it out of the water.  As it was getting late afternoon, many of the nighttime animals had begun singing.  Very peaceful and relaxing.   When I got to the take out point, I was glad to see my Jeep had been relocated, so I decided to load up and head home.  The only complication was that my arms were completely exhausted.  Loading the kayak on top of the Jeep, was a challenge, but I got it done and made my way back home.