The Current River – Eminence, Mo.
Water Clarity – 9+
Natural Quality – 9
Difficulty – Beginner to Moderate
Perception – Weekday
The Current River was the first stop on my ‘leisurely’ drive from the Carolina’s to California; located within Missouri The Ozark National Scenic Riverway‘s reputation precedes it as a ‘must-do’ paddle-stop. The Current river had been on my ‘list’ for at least a year.
Passing up a planned stop in Kentucky, I arrived at Pulltite Campground a full day ahead of schedule (the lake in Kentucky just didn’t ‘feel right’ plus with a gained hour in time, I drove on)….
It was evening as I passed through the small town of Eminence, Mo – (GPS – 117 Stewart Dr, Eminence, MO) I considered staying at a lower campground – but again moved on to the more remote campground at Pulltite; darkness fell as I parked. Pick your spot.
Pulltite is off the ‘beaten’ path, so much so that I found NO cell service, and of course no internet – so if you have contacts to make; do so before arrival… but hey, thats kinda what paddlin is about (getting away from all that stuff). On the positive side there is a pay phone (if you remember how to use one) at the site – most of the shuttle folks have ‘800’ numbers – so in the end it all works.
As for me, I did not check in the night before with my shuttle folks and being two days early I went to sleep contemplating my next move – ahead of schedule I could wander the little town the next day and make solid contact and return to paddle the following day – or – leave my vehicle and paddle-on chancing cell-contact down river; or, simply try the pay-phone again in the morning.
Preparations were made and the kayak was loaded in the dark, with @35 miles to the two rivers campsite I was prepared to spend a night on the river, when/if I got on it.
Tossed and turned all night dreaming that I couldn’t fall sleep on the river; go figure. Arose early and after a shower was surprised to make contact (888#) with Two Rivers(Anita) just after 7 am. Things fell into place from there and I was able to ‘shove off’ by 730 am.
Less than a mile downriver was the Old Pulltite Spring, lots of history here and with a short walk down a path there is more to see.
The old cabin was put together using logs in a vertical fashion, nothing much inside except a chimney and lots of graffiti. Because the logs appear to be creosoted and co-joined, I wouldn’t guess the current construction to be more than 50 years old – just my hunch.
As I was sizing up the water, the Natural Quality of the area also remained on my mind, soon the wildlife began adding up; turtle, herons, plus an Eagle with its white tail (I had seen 28 on the Mississippi), but there was an Osprey too – one which took my lead all day. Made me think of an old indian story where an Osprey had led a young boy out of the woods and to safety. In observation this Osprey had his motives to stay ahead, it continued to move out in front of me as a strategy to grab any morsels that might sense my approaching movement, with the ‘free-ride’ of the Current – I had plenty of time to watch him at work.
Martin’s Bluff on the Current
There were plenty of campsites along the river, places of comfort. What I really learned on this trip was to come prepared to spend a night on the river, camp – not so much because of the distance in paddling, but as-to actually enjoy the miles more (my return link). Instead of being in ‘the-cog’ moving down river at the same rate as others – stop, camp and watch ’em all pass – I think that would honor this river’s atmosphere as it should be appreciated.
I do not take lots of use from weekend tubers as a negative; as with Juniper Springs, a positive is that users kept the passage ‘beaten down.’ True that the older trees were a bit scarred (‘beaters’) but in the scheme of things those were simply indicators to watch for the tricky currents.
I was pleased with the lack of trash and unnatural debris on the Current this date, an even larger positive.
Still plenty to ponder as you paddle, or just float by.
Making it to the Hwy 19 bridge in a little less three hours and thinking it was half-way to Two Rivers – I figured I might just do this in a day, with the overcast I was probably more prepared to sleep than to ‘camp’ (sleeping bag, no tent). Turns out that from the bridge to Two Rivers was a five hour ‘ride.’ When 4:30 pm came – I really didn’t want it to end.
There were lots of kingfishers, woodpeckers, the Osprey that worked the trees all day ahead of me, turtles aplenty, the catfish appeared to be camouflaged, an Otter, lots of the smaller mallard-like ducks with white eyes and blue markings (like female wood ducks), egrets, and herons, and the usual crow or two – maybe I should get a ‘bird-book;’ that might work – I’ve always been better with pictures, and they work well as notes too..
There are many little ‘divits’ (my name) or coves along the river; subtle little areas of natural peace – thats where the wildlife hangs out and the river’s water stands calm
– life’s a little slower back there.
The Current’s alternating depth provides plenty of rapids as well as some placid areas too – its easy to imagine this river and the power of the same clear glacier run-off causing this, plus the native life that this river supported long before we were around…
I made numerous stops to stretch, make a sandwich, and simply ‘calibrate‘ to it all
The Current continues to throw the natural quality at you….
I hadn’t seen any more than two folks all day, then I ran into some canoer’s – in talking with them they mentioned this was their 33rd annual trip from Illinois to enjoy the Current river. I have found others many miles away that have also discovered this river through paddlin it. A canoe would work well on the Current
Around the corner the local outfitters were having their ‘end-of-the-season’ bash (until late into the night) they deserve it for putting up with all the doggone people each year…… that’s probably why I’m paddling too – a break from a lifetime of telling those doggone people that they were always ‘right!’….
The Current River, a free ride.
Well there are still places that Facebook, the internet, and cell service can’t reach – and the Current River between Pulltite and further down than Two Rivers happens to be one of those areas. It’s a shame that one cant go and enjoy to the fullest without the feeling that contact needs to be made, but I tried – plan to ‘disconnect’ on your visit.
It’s my guess that there are no cell phones nor internet in heaven either – The Current is a little taste of that.
I was told that an overnight was necessary between these points, while I was prepared it didn’t happen, my regret. It was a leisurely paddle with stops – just kept the kayak in the current (like going down the Mississippi in 32 days) while enjoying the view, feet-up! I made it from Pulltite to Two Rivers in 9 hours… 730 – 430.
With this experience; an overnight stay is the only way to fully appreciate this river.
The river’s easy to ‘read’ and gentle enough for anyone that you want to put on it, no wonder the canoe/tubing industry is thriving here in the summer – plus its just an awesome place with the cliffs and the region’s wild life.
The Current River has plenty of it’s own unique character just waiting for you to enjoy, do so.