My Sanctuary

 

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“The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.” – John Muir

It was a little late in the evening when I decided to load the yak and do some fishing on the Big River.  I spent more time taking photos than fishing.  There was a hint of the approaching fall season on the leaves of the trees.  The temp however left one shaking their head in disbelief, as I did, wondering if we were going to bypass fall this year.  I could see that my sanctuary was preparing itself for a dance with autumn.

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“Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”Lauren DeStefano, Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)

The river is my sanctuary.  I feel safe there.  I feel content and satisfied no matter how bad life has been to me.  You can talk to the river and if you listen very carefully you will here its answer manifested in the sounds of the rapids or the croaking bull frogs.  The river has been responsible for some great concerts in the past.  It usually starts with a choir of crickets and bull frogs, followed by the bass created by the beaver slamming its tail upon the water.   Then if you are lucky you will hear a pack of coyotes join in with their howl and high pitched yips.  If there is a full moon overhead reflecting its beautiful light upon the river; then it is a perfect night.

In my sanctuary I recharge my spirit and cleanse my soul.  I become one with the river.  If you learn to use Mother Nature’s river you will be surprised at what it can do for your self esteem.  If you have never meditated on the river you have no idea how you can really cleanse the garbage from your mind that you acquired by the negativity that tried to creep into your life.

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The next time you are on the river slow down and observe what really goes on.  Focus on all the wild life that lives within the banks of the river.  Do yourself a favor and even start keeping a Journal of your time on the river.  Notice how the riparian system works to make the river better.  There are so many things that work together to keep the river alive.  If you have never been on the river then by all means make plans to visit a river near you.

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As a point of clarification, I really do like all rivers even the big ones.  I prefer the Ozark streams to the Mississippi or the Missouri.  The Show Me State has been blessed with several pristine streams.  The Bourbeuse, Current, Jacks Fork, Meramec, Courtois, Black, Eleven Point just to name a few.

Now for the part that gets my panties in a wad and always will.  PUHLEASE!  Pack your trash out with you.  Don’t leave it laying around on the sand and gravel bars.  NEWS FLASH!!!!  One does not need a special permit to buy trash bags.  They are readily available and if you need instructions as how to use them I would be glad to give you instructions.  No one has ever reported any deaths that can be attributed to picking up your trash.

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“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

John Muir was known as “John of the Mountains” .  He loved the wilderness but had a special place in his heart for the mountains.  My friend David Tripp calls me the “river sage” which in return I usually give a pretty good chuckle.  I love the wilderness also but I call the river my sanctuary.

I want to thank everyone that took the time to read my blog.  Thank you.  (All photographs were taken by me.)

Spread the love!

 

 

 

Big River, The River of My Choice.

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?  That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”  – Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I have had some people ask me what it is that attracts me so much to Big River so for this blog I thought I would share why this river has mesmerized me with its beauty and mystique I cherish so much.

Big River begins near the summit of Johnson Mountain near the ghost town of Enough. It flows through the Missouri counties of Washington, Saint Francois and Jefferson then it empties into the Meramec River near Eureka, MO.  It flows through Washington State Park, St. Francois State Park and through the Lead Belt mining district.  It meanders 145 miles through the Missouri countryside.  Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, rock bass, longear sunfish, bluegill, channel catfish, flathead catfish and red horse suckers are some of the fish that can be found in the Big River.

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Big River above Leadwood Access

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Big River

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.  Under the rocks are the river words, and some of the words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters.” – Norman Maclean  A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

I seem to always be drawn to big the Lead Belt area of the Big River.  The 108 years of mining in that area took a toll on the Big River in the form of contamination by lead. There is a contamination warning on certain kinds of fish caught in the Big River.  There are pipes that go into the old mines that are still in the river.  I am not sure what they were used for.   I was told that they were old test holes, used to pump water out of the mines and numerous other things but do not know for a fact what exactly they were used for.

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Big River

I spend a lot of time camped out at night in this area.  It seems to hold so much mystery within the banks of the river.  Sometimes there seems to be a presence with me as I go about my night of running limb lines and sitting by the camp fire.  Not an evil presence but like another presence in another dimension.  Sometimes when I am running limb lines and the fog is lifting it looks like spirits rising from the mines out of the water on their way to somewhere else.  Some nights it even makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  Oddly enough it is a pleasant feeling.  At times I have even thought that maybe they are wanting to share their secrets with me.  Maybe it is the past inhabitants of the ghost town Enough wanting to converse with me.  The mystery stirs my soul deep inside hoping that one day they will share those secrets with me.  One night while I was sitting by the fire I smelled cigarette smoke like someone was sitting right next to me smoking a cigarette.  Am I crazy?  Maybe, maybe not.

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A couple other things that attract me to the Big River is the beautiful scenery and last but not least the fishing.  My photos will never do the beauty of the river justice.  The tall bluffs and rock formations and the lined banks of beautiful trees make the Big River a great place to float and enjoy life. If the river could talk I wonder what it would say.  Would it tell me about the people that came before me, tell me about how it was before they started mining.  Oh the things it could share with me.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog.  I hope you find it interesting.  Maybe some night you will get to camp along the banks of the Big River and you can tell me if I am crazy or not. Be kind to one another, spread the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

 

Finally!!

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David and Mark

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”  – Thomas Aquinas

On June 22 at noon the Geritol Crew finally shoved off and floated a portion of the Big River.  We started at St. Francois State Park and floated to Cherokee Landing.  It was a beautiful day for a float.  David and Mark used Mark’s canoe and I took my Kayak.   Water was low but clear.  We caught a few fish but they weren’t biting very well.  Mark did catch a sixteen inch smallmouth.

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David and Mark

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Big River

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Big River

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Big River at St. Francois State Park

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Big River

It was a great time with friends.  We took a trip down memory lane and revisited our time at Northwest High School.  When we got to Cherokee Landing no one was around so we loaded everything in the truck and headed out to St. Francois State Park and pitched tents.

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My tent at St Francois State Park

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Coffee perking

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Frying the bacon

I am lucky that I got to spend some time with some old high school buddies.  David and I hit the Bonne Terre lake one day.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you liked the pics.  Be kind to one another, share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

 

The Ugliness of Failure

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford\

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Big River above Leadwood.

I had posted that I was taking a seven day float on the Big River.  I planned everything except my physical abilities and the water level of the river.  Some time ago around the early 80’s I busted my right foot up pretty good.  Doctor said about the only thing I didn’t break was my toes.  He told me  he had some good news and some bad news.  I said lets start with the good news.  He said I might walk again but if I did it would be with a cane.  I said well now lay the bad news on me since you all ready PPed pretty good on my day.  He said I really don’t think you will walk again.  Well, he missed that one.  I do have a lot of pain from time to time with it though.  I didn’t expect the river to be so low and couple that with the the extra weight of supplies, there were a lot of places that I had to get out and pull the yaks.  By Sunday my ankle was swollen the size of a large grapefruit so I decided to call it quits.  I have all ready started working on a better plan.  I failed at what I started out to do and it makes me sick.

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My rig I used on the trip.

I did manage to leave Mounts on Saturday morning around 9 am.  It started out pretty well.  I met some folks along the way and the day was beautiful.  The back float was doing a great job.  Then, then, then, BAM!  The float was following right behind the yak when the current sucked into a tree and then a sudden stop.  It caused the front end of my yak to go under water and then the whole yak started taking water causing a 63 year old man, who looked like a beached whale, to eject himself from his kayak.  To make it worse there was an audience.  I was glad to see them though.  They helped me drain the kayak and get it back in the water however the tent and sleeping bag got soaked even though they were tucked into dry bags.

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Big River

I am not going to accept defeat.  I am all ready planning a new attempt sometime in August or September.  I have to get all my supplies in one boat.  I am thinking, lose the cooler and water.  I am going to do some research on water filters.  Secondly the only food I will carry is MREs and protein bars.  That will help a lot.  I am also going to have to find a good boot with support that will take the water.  I really believe I will be able to do the 7 day float then.

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My friend David concentrating on his fly fishing.

“Some of the best lessons we learn are learned from past mistakes.  The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future.” – Dale Turner

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  It is deeply appreciated.  Be kind to one another.  Share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.

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Big River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost There

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{Left to Right} Mark’s Grandson, David, Me and Mark

“Remember the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.”  – H. Jackson Brown Jr

I thought the above quote was quite appropriate however I can’t speak for David and Mark.  In the movie Wild Hogs four middle aged men hit the road for adventure on motorcycles.  So I guess for three guys hitting the open river for 7 days in kayaks and canoe, I guess we would be called the Wild Yaks.  Hopefully we wont hear banjos.

Some months back I had mentioned to them that I was going to do a seven day float on the river and they thought it was such a great idea that they wanted in, so on Saturday the Geritol Crew will begin a seven day journey down the beautiful Big River.  I guess we should call it the Rice Krispies float because every time we get out of the boats you can hear snap, crackle, pop.

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One of the places we will pass by.  I call it Rock of David,  because my friend David brought it to life in water color.

I hate to say it but this float trip was brought together by Facebook.  Mark, David and I graduated together and were reunited by Facebook.  I will let you know how many bottles of Geritol we go through.  Instead of butcher, baker and Indian Chief we have, retired teacher, bails bondsman and semi-retired horseshoer.  What a combination.  Well with three wild sixty-three year old men unsupervised on the river, I think the bails bondsman will be most beneficial.  I just hope I don’t overdose on Geritol.

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Another site we will see on the Big River

I have our trip planned to cover around 6 to 8 miles a day.  I hope we reach Cherokee Landing by Monday evening.  Our final destination is going to be Washington State Park south of De Soto, MO.   I figure it is about a forty-five mile float.  I hope to get lots of pics and fish.  My wish is to some day float the whole Big River and Bourbeuse River.

“Friends…they cherish one another’s hopes.  They are kind to one another’s dreams.” – Henry David Thoreau

As our time draws closer my mind wanders back to the times in school when life was so much simpler.  Then my mind rockets back to the present making me realize how much different things are today.  We all seem to have a little more snow on the roof.  Our step doesn’t have as much spring in it as it used to have.  I know some mornings I get up and notice that the “git” in my “git along” all ready got up and left without me.  Our friendship has endured a long time.  I am looking forward to taking a trip down memory lane this weekend, going back to a time when you all climbed into one car and dumped all your change out to get enough gas in the car to ride around all night.  Life was good.

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Another place on the river we will pass by.

Thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Be kind to one another and share the love.  Don’t squat with your spurs on and God Bless you one and all.

 

 

Safety First

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Bourbeuse River near Union, MO

My story starts on Friday, June 2, 2017.  David Tripp, Mark Nelson and myself are planning a week long float on the Big River the last week in June.  This float was a preview of our planned float.

 

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My Kayak on the Bourbeuse River

I put in on the Bourbeuse around 5 pm on June 2,  planning to have a great weekend. Friday night went pretty well.  I set out 10 limb lines and baited them for catfish.  I set up camp on a gravel bar and then went on up river and tight line fished.  I caught some nice cat and drum that night.   The river was falling and very muddy so I was a little surprised that I caught anything at all.  I did catch 2 channel cat on the limb lines.  I ran the limb lines at 11 pm and 3 am then daybreak.  I heated up some beans and weenies for breakfast  about 4 am Saturday morning.

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Heating up beans and weenies on the river bank.

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Fish I caught early Saturday morning,

Saturday was like any other day on the river.  I spent it bass fishing and fishing for pan fish.  About dark I began baiting the limb lines that I had out,   When all the lines were baited I headed to my spot that I tight line fished at night.

Dawn came and my fish basket had 6 nice channels in it that I  had caught.  I started working my way back down river, bass fishing as I went.  I managed to get hung up and losing my hook so I tied a new one on.  I had been pulled into the shallow water and instead of paddling back up and securing everything before I started through the swift water i made a bad decision to just go ahead and shoot the shallow fast water.

I had been through this spot 4 times since Friday.  Water was really swift so away I went. Then all of a sudden the yak hits something, comes to a stop then the rushing water hit it in the rear,  forced it side ways and over I went.  I was flung head first into the water then the swift water carried me to the end of the shallow into a deep hole.  The current surrounding the hole began to push me to the bottom.  The water was so muddy I couldn’t see anything.  I don’t know how long I had been in the river but my lungs began to hurt so i knew I had to make a decision so I relaxed and let my life jacket do its job and sure enough it started pulling me to the top so I immediately began helping it.  When I broke the top I was gasping for breath,

I looked around and I saw the yak and it was heading down river pretty fast so I headed for it.  Once I snagged it I had to swim it about 40 yards to the bank.  Now if you have ever lifted a ten foot kayak full of water you realize at this point that Preparation H is really man’s best friend.  I finally got everything rounded up and I just crashed on a gravel bar as what just happened started sinking into my mind.

I want to thank you for reading my blog.  Just a reminder about safety and how important it is.  Please wear your life jacket when you are on the river.  Be kind to one another,   Share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.  God Bless you one and all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nighttime on the River

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Leadwood Access on Big River

” I  often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Rain was out of the forecast for a few days so I thought I better take advantage of it so I headed for the river.  I got on the river around 5 am looking for a relaxing night.  I planned to set out 10 limb lines and do a little tight line fishing and naturally some bass fishing.

As I paddled up river to my turn around point, looking as I went for a place to set up camp.  I don’t require much, just a place to build a fire and a place to beach the yak.  I had two places in mind.  As I worked my way up river I set my limb lines and would come back at dusk and bait them.

Bad news was that the river was dropping and that was going to hurt the fishing.  I had a whole arsenal to throw at them and was hoping I could figure out the right combination. Didn’t take too long for them to let me know they apparently didn’t like my menu.  All night fishing and all I caught that night was a channel catfish around 4:30 am.

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Camp was a sand/gravel bar.   I was tight line fishing off the bar.  This is where I caught the channel cat.  I only had one other bite.  The temps had dropped into the upper 40s and it was a little brisk so I got a fire going.  Now I am here to tell ya, it is hard to get a fire going with wet wood and a magnesium fire starter.  McGyver would have been proud of me.  I sat there in front of the fire listening to the crickets and the bull frogs.  Then the yotes joined in.  They gave quite the concert.  I even had six of the yotes appear on the ground above where I had built the fire.  I named them the showmen.  They put on quite a show, yipping, barking and growling.  They finally disappeared into the woods and I was alone once again on the river bank.

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Up river from Leadwood Access

It had been some time since the yotes had visited me when I looked down the river toward a bend below where I was and I noticed the moon beams creeping into the darkness.  As the moon rose higher and lit more of the river up the “ghost dance” began.  As the moon light reaches out into the darkness and lights the river, one can see the fog lifting off to the sky.  I call it the “ghost dance” because when I see it happening I think it looks like ghosts dancing as they are lifted into the heavens.

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My fire felt good.

The sun began its ascent in the eastern sky and signaled that a new day had begun.  I cleaned up camp and secured all trash in the yak and I shoved off.  I started running the limb lines down river from camp and would work my way back up river.  Nothing on any of the lines and a lot of them still had bait left.  Oh well better luck next time.

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Largemouth Bass

On the way back down the river I managed to catch an eleven and a half inch smallmouth and Saturday evening I caught a 13 inch largemouth.  My time on the river was coming to a close.  I felt sadness in my heart but I also felt excitement caused by wondering what adventure would the river bring me next time.

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Smallmouth Bass

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my adventure.  Be kind to one another, share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.  God Bless you one and all

 

Rain on the River

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Storm clouds building.

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” – Roger Miller

Wow, what a night on the river.  I knew that rain was in the forecast.  I knew they said some storms could be severe.  Did I let that stop me?  Noooooooooooo.  Instead I load the kayak and my fishing gear and off to the river I go.  My grandpa’s response to my decision would have been,”Boy, all I have to say is you don’t have the sense God gave a turnip.”  I recall the first time I heard that.  I remember thinking, I never knew a turnip had any sense.

I finally get to the river and the sky doesn’t look to awful bad so I back down to unload. Well one of those people who think they are someone special and their poo poo don’t stink, you know the type, has parked where we put the yaks in.  I can still get my yak in the water but it is 10 times as hard.  All of this just because this snowflake doesn’t think rules apply to him,  He is someone special (said as sarcastic as I can) don’t you know.  Then, then, as I am about to shove off he walks up to his truck and sees me and says,”Your face is awfully red.”  At which time I promptly responded by telling him it was probably due to the fact that some one special had parked where we launch yaks, and is a no parking zone, so I had to work 10 times as hard as I should have.  Yep!  You guessed it.  Went right over his head and I don’t even think he realized it was him.

Heading up river I could see the cloud build up wasn’t looking too good so I checked the radar and no rain was showing up.  I paddled to a spot on the river where I have had great luck with small mouth.  I started floating back down river and started fishing.  I started with a Rebel Wee Craw,  Charlie Slider worm and an eighth ounce jig with a pig attached.  No luck.  Nothing. Nada.  Nil.  You know, same thing that is left after a divorce.

I came to a place in the river where there is some under water cover and is usually a producer of some nice pan fish.  So I retied this time using a hook and a sinker and baited with night crawler.  In no time i had caught two.  Then it started to rain.  Just a steady slow rain but camera time was over for the night.

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Just before the rain started.

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By now it had been raining for about 10 minutes and BAM!  The spotted bass had  started hitting.  Looks like things are looking up.  Oh yeah.  I mean what is a little rain when the fish are biting,  Right?  Then, like it wasn’t raining on my parade all ready, there is a bright flash of light followed by a clap of thunder that made my fillings rattle.  It hit a tree up on the bluff from me.  Not a lot bothers me but lightning gets my undivided attention.  Sooooooo i reel in my line and headed back to where the truck was parked.

I finally arrive and beach the yak and head to get the truck.  Still not raining real hard yet.  I start backing down to where the yak is and I am here to tell ya I can’t remember the last time I saw it rain that hard.  I thought someone was hitting me with a water canon.  I sit there in the truck for a few minutes and then I thought what the hell, after all it is only rain and I sure as hell ain’t gonna melt.  So I got out and loaded stuff in the truck.  When I got in the truck soak and I thought to myself if it wouldn’t have lightninged I WOULD have got really wet.

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to be kind to each other, share the love and don’t squat with your spurs on.  God Bless you one and all.