I’ve been so happy to see the rain and cooler temperatures lately, but still waiting for the water levels to rise enough to make a decent float. It’s too hard to let Summer pass while dust settles on my kayak, so I’ve been opening myself up to alternatives like the bigger spring-fed rivers and some of our many lakes to keep paddling.
A few weekends ago I braved the Niangua on a Saturday. If you like to get outdoors to actually appreciate nature and the peace and beauty it has to offer, I would not recommend public use portions of the Niangua on Summer weekends. It was a drunken bumper boat ride from carnival hell. I think I would have registered on the breathalyzer just from second-hand fumes.
In a pleasantly opposite way, Lake Taneycomo offered a great day-float option that I would recommend. With water-levels in the streams and rivers being what they are these days, it is nice to know that there is a consistent place to paddle some beautiful water. There won’t be any riffles or rapids along the way, which we saw as a bit of a downside. On the other hand, it provided some excellent opportunity to keep your upper body in shape and stretch out on some nice sprints for a good workout.
I arrived planning on a put-in and take-out from the same location, but was surprised to see a decent current and thought better of that option. Near the “headwaters” at the base of Table Rock Dam, the current is enough to present a fairly serious obstacle to a single access float. While this made it a fun quick ride and a great spot for viewing many varieties of fish in the clear fast waters, it meant that we needed a shuttle service.
Luckily, we ran into Don and Lawanna Stuck of White River Kayaking and Outdoors. They were sending off a couple of folks in an Old Town tandem kayak at the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery access. They gave us a card and a few tips and offered to pick us up at the takeout near Scotty’s landing.
If the lake doesn’t provide enough excitement for you river rats out there, don’t forget the optional dip in 48 degree water. We found that when your face hits the water, a brain freeze follows in a split-second. It’s definitely a rush to do it yourself and it’s fun to watch your friends jumping out of the water afterward like dolphins.
Possible down sides are the motor boats. For the most beautiful Saturday of the year, there were surprisingly few boats on the lake, but occasionally they do come by and provide a few waves to ride. Also, expect to need to dodge fisherman casting from banks and docks along the way. Again, it’s not an ideal place for the river runner, but still a great place to get away for a day. And don’t forget to bring White River Kayaking and Outdoors some business. They were really nice folks.