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Float Trip 1
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Float Trip 2
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Float Trip 3
By Lauren Licklider
Dark clouds consume the blue morning sky as we wait. In every group of friends, there are those that are always late. These are the friends I trick: “Yes, we need to leave by 6:30 AM,” I tell them, when really, we need to leave at 7. And usually this works, but today my fool-proof trick has failed.
And so we wait some more, starting an impromptu whiffle ball game. Our gear is ready to go—coolers packed full of snacks and drinks, tents, sleeping bags, sunscreen, and dry bags. I've yet to have a canoe flip, but you never know.
Rain drops start to fall. “Katie and Matt took the wrong turn. They’ll be here in 20 minutes.” This is a true test of patience: late friends and a thunderstorm are threatening my fl oat on the Eleven Point River.
The Eleven Point River is Missouri’s only designated wild and scenic river. While it’s not completely below the radar, it isn’t far from it. It twists and turns through wildly beautiful and rugged Ozarks terrain. This is why in 1968, when Congress created the National Wild and Scenic River System, 44 miles of the Eleven Point River were included in the original eight rivers. (The remaining were: Clearwater and Salmon rivers in Idaho, Feather River in California, Rio Grande River in New Mexico, Rogue River in Oregon, St. Croix River in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Wolf River in Wisconsin.)
The National Wild and Scenic River System was established as a way to preserve rivers that possessed significant natural beauty, scenery, and wildlife and were free of shoreline development. Today, these rivers, or sections of rivers, are protected from being dammed and flow in their natural condition, wild and free.
As soon as Matt and Katie arrive, we pack everything up and leave. It’s a two-hour drive to Eleven Point River Canoe Rental in Alton, and it storms the whole way. Heavy rain falls; windshield wipers work furiously as I become furious. How dare it rain on my float trip?
Just as I begin planning how to fashion a makeshift poncho out of a large black trash bag, the sky clears. And just this once, I am happy my friends were an hour late. They’ve saved all of us from starting our float trip in a storm.
When we reach Eleven Point Canoe Rental, we load everything into large vans pulling stacks of canoes. The vans wind down a brown-dirt road for miles until we reach the Turner Mill access point, the start to our 14-mile float trip.
Turner’s Mill, located at mile 21.5 on the Eleven Point River, is the perfect starting point. It comes after Greer Spring, which more than doubles the Eleven Point River, and the old mill site is still intact.