Kayaking on the Current River


For over a year, Casey and Gene have been singing the praises of kayaking. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of having a platform to get close to wildlife on the banks of the river, and making great images. Casey invited me to join him and Emily for a trip down the Current River, so I figured I’d give it a try.

After getting up at the crack of dawn, driving to Casey’s, and loading up the gear, we headed toward Jadwin MO and my first encounter with a kayak. Casey and Emily have their own boats, but I had to rent one from the folks at Jadwin Canoe. Boat loaded, paddle in hand, and flotation device at the ready, we trucked to the drop spot at Baptist Camp.

Being on the water was great! And I had an easy time for the first bit of the river. I had one bumpy spot where I almost tipped over, but recovered. Not long after that and about a 1.25 miles into the trip, we stopped for lunch on the bank, and I devoured my two sandwiches, and dug into some of my snacks. This was serene, enjoyable, and I was certain that I had a knack for this. Good thing we ate there and then.

Not much farther down the river, as I travelled the remainder of the 6.25 miles of our trip, I wrecked bad, throwing all the items in the kayak downstream. I rescued the camera (fortunately in a dry bag — thanks Casey), and Casey and Emily rescued one water bottle (of four that I was carrying) and the bag of Nutter Butters. The fish will feed well on the Slim Jim’s and beef jerky that sank to Davy Jones Locker, I’m sure.

I also bottomed out in several locations. There’s been a ton of rain down there over the last week, so the water was over some places that ordinarily would be exposed, and it’s those shallows that caused me the most grief. Add a big guy (me) in a boat that rides low (my rental), and you have a recipe for high centering the boat in the river. In one particularly embarassing location, I tried to get out, move the kayak, and regain control three times (again launching the camera into the water, and again rescuing it) before finally getting underway. Ugh.

We made it to the pickup point only ten minutes late. Not bad, considering Casey and Emily were having to nursemaid me down the river, guiding me around the logs and rocks. I know that slowed them up, but I was so thankful for their help. About midway through the trip, Casey took my dry bag and put it in the storage in his boat, and that helped me relax a bit. Knowing that you no longer have to worry about lobbing $2k of camera gear to the bottom of the river was quite a relief!

On the way back to the truck, Casey asked our driver what the worst part of the Current River was — it was the part we ran today! How’s that for an introduction to kayaking! After thanking our hosts at Jadwin Canoe — they took great care of us! — we loaded up, and headed toward home, with a stop along the way for a well-deserved dinner of pizza and some salad.

So it sounds horrible, right? Wrong. I really enjoyed it. With better equipment — a boat that rides higher in the water like Casey’s or Emily’s, and a lightweight, shaped paddle like they were sporting — I would do better I believe. Yeah, I’d do this again, no doubt. I think I’ll need more boating skill in order to be able to photograph and not worry about putting the gear in the drink, but I really think this might be something to investigate a little further. Given my knack for throwing my camera in the water, I didn’t take too many photos this time. It’s really a shame — this was beautiful country, with loads of birds to photograph, and lots of cliffs, caves and logs to explore photographically. Maybe next time I’ll be a bit steadier in the boat.

And, the truck looked good with boats on top — almost like it wanted one of its own. How can you argue with that? 🙂