The lake is not a creek

We went kayaking on Bull Creek a few weeks ago.  I blogged about our scraping through Zone 9.

Then Scott took Andrew and Zach kayaking on the upper Buffalo last Saturday.  They had plenty of water and a grand time, including jumping off cliffs and hiking to the waterfall at Hemmed in Hollow.  Zach was using my kayak, and got, in Andrew’s words, got quite a few (explicit) compliments on my dashing Dagger.  I suppose we must cut such folks some slack.  It was the first nice Saturday in spring, the Buffalo was crammed with people, and wild men on the river do tend to drink.  Anyway.

Some friends borrowed our kayaks yesterday (on Saturday, the Saturday before Easter).  I assumed they were going to the Buffalo; there clearly wasn’t enough water in any of the creeks around here.  When we completed our float/drag last month and pulled out at the bridge, I made a mental note of the depth of the water on a certain rock.  (As in, “That amount of water is NOT enough for floating!”)  Every morning, when I pause on the bridge, I check the rock, and so far, only one day has it been what I would consider floatable.  That was when it was about two and-a-half inches deeper than it was the day we went – and it happened to be on something like a Wednesday or Thursday, when Scott wasn’t even available.

But it turns out our friends were going to float Lake Taneycomo.  really?!?  Who ever heard of such?  For one thing, Taneycomo’s ice cold and full trout.  It’s a fishing lake, not a floating lake. . . at least, that’s what I thought.  For another thing, where would you put in and take out?  For yet another thing, Taneycomo’s basically a dammed-up river.  What would be be like to kayak on a river?  And for still yet another thing, how deep is it, anyway?  Deep enough to float?

Our friend said that you can put in at the fish hatchery, just below Table Rock Dam, and that right after they left water out of the dam (either for flood control or to generate hydro) there’s plenty of water for a nice, one and-a-half hour float, or you can do a longer three-hour one.

Hmmm. . . If you know Scott, you know that this meant that we would be kayaking Taneycomo sometime soon.  And that sometime was today.  = )

We drove both vehicles to the public access take-out at Cooper Creek and left the Honda there.  Then we drove up to the fish hatchery to put in.  I will spare you a description of the One Who Almost Tipped Trying to Get Into the Kayak, and just say that we all embarked into water that was numbingly cold and very swift-moving.  In fact, I suggested we go upstream a bit to get close to the dam, and we tried, but only momentarily.  Paddling upstream as hard as humanly possible we only managed to keep ourselves. . . moving steadily downstream!

Because we assumed from the drive up and from the strong current that we would get to the take-out very quickly, so we didn’t paddle.  In fact, basically all we did for two hours was sit back, coast, and occasionally dip a paddle in on one side or the other to steer.  It was the laziest I have ever been in a canoe or kayak in my entire life!

The scenery was lovely – especially with the redbud and dogwood in bloom – everything was peaceful, and we had a good time.  But I realized something key about myself.  I’m not a lake girl, and I’m not a river girl.  For the past seventeen years, I have lived a tenth of a mile from a creek, and I guess it has done something to me.  I’m a creek girl through and through.  I want my water to move, and I want it to make creek-ish noises while it does.  I want to be able to see the bottom, and I want to see rocks and gravel down there.  I want it narrow and I want it to have riffles and rapids.

And if I’m going to kayak it, I want my water to offer at least a little bit of challenge – some twists, some turns, some overhanging branches, some poorly positioned rocks or logs.  And I want to see turtles plopping off those logs.

Now, although it is technically a river, in its defense, the Buffalo River is small enough to meet my criteria for kayak-worthy water.  Taneycomo is not.  As far as I am concerned, you can have Table (Lake) Rock and (Lake) Taneycomo and Bull Shoals (Lake), but for kayaking joy, give me Bull Creek any day.



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