Jack’s Fork River in less than 12 hours
Why? That is the question I get from most of my friends. After kayaking all
the Current River (in Missouri) a few years ago in 3 days, and all of Eleven
Point River (in Missouri) in one day last year, I decided the Jack’s Fork
was next on my hit list. I did not intend on doing it in one day, but I was
solo, and it just happened. Had I known I was going to do it in one day, I
would not have packed two days’ worth of gear and food and I sure would have
taken my Wilderness Systems Pungo Classic versus my Native Manta Ray kayak.
The Manta Ray is my long hauler and the Pungo is my speedster. I still got
out and checked out Jam Up Cave and Blue Springs. I even pulled over for
lunch at Rymer Spring. I guess at some point it was just a challenge of
doing it all in one day.
When I go to tackle a long trip like that, I always let me friends know and
try to get company, but with everyone being so busy it is often difficult to
get commitments. I generally just plan two or three dates and go with the
best weather. Spring is the best time to hit the upper parts of rivers like
the Eleven Point and Jack’s Fork, but unfortunately, the weather is often
very unpredictable. When I decided to go for the April 10th date, the
weather looked pretty good. It ended up being in the 50’s, VERY windy and
three short rain showers. Not necessarily the ideal weather for a kayak
trip. But I have the right gear, so it was not that big of an issue. And
the best part of doing a trip like that on an “iffy” weather day is, you do
not see many people. I think I ran across two small groups the entire 44.6
miles. I put in at the Prongs and took out at Two Rivers. The water level
was 2.5′ at Mountain View, 3.2′ at Alley Springs and 3.6′ at Eminence. In
my opinion, that was the ideal water level, not too fast and not too low
(especially for the upper part by the Prongs).
I put in at 7:05 a.m. that morning and pulled out at Two Rivers at 6:55 p.m.
the same day. I will say that I thought my mission would have to be aborted
at Eminence, but luckily, I was able to plow through it. As I was kayaking
through Eminence there were some campers and a cute little girl asked if I
could get her ball down river. I really figured there would be no chance I
would even see it, but as I got about a quarter of a mile down river, sure
enough, there it was. I did not have the heart to pass it by, so I grabbed
it and plowed upriver with my kayak. It was a swift spot in the river.
Although the girl was extremely happy, my forearm cramped up so badly I
thought I was done for the day. I rested it for a while I just floated, and
it finally calmed down enough that I could continue my journey. There was
only one other slight mishap. I followed a couple of canoers down the wrong
branch of the upper part of the river, and we all had to walk our
kayak/canoe back up stream about 200 yards.
Jack’s Fork is a beautiful river with many bluffs, river otters, eagles, and
springs. And of course, you can NOT pass up the opportunity to walk up to
Jam Up Cave. I thoroughly enjoyed my day. I went back two weekends later
and did the same trip with two of my buddies. We did it in 2.5 days that
Next up, maybe all the Buffalo River in Arkansas? Or maybe all the
Gasconade in Missouri? I do not think I will be doing those in one day 🙂