Our plan for the first day was to park at a canoe rental business, bike up to the put in, just south of the lower dam, and paddle until we found a good place to pull over and camp for the night. The next day we would paddle down to the highway bridge (About 3 miles total paddling) and ride home from there.
We ended up having a white Christmas in Dallas this year. Here's my wife getting out of the car Christmas night.
I was starting to think about canceling the trip, but when I looked at all the awesome presents my wife and family had given me, everything I asked for (SPOT GPS, GoPro Camera, Camping Stove...), I couldn't imagine canceling. When we left the house Thursday morning it was 25 degrees F. We picked up a friend of my brothers and off we went on our 3.5 hour drive. As we neared the Oklahoma border, the ground and sides of all the tress were covered in a thick layer of snow. We drove in silence for a while and I know we were all thinking this trip might not be a good idea, but no one said a word about that.
We arrived at the canoe rental spot around 12:30. I had asked the owner, Greg, about parking overnight at his location earlier in December when we were planning our trip. I had emailed him the night before to let him know we were indeed going to come out. Here's the response that I got from him as we were nearing:
I doubt you will be floating in the next few days, 28 degrees F and 2 inches of snow here this morning. If you decide to float at a later date give us a call 580-584-XXXX and leave a message.
I did not respond to him out of fear that he would say we're crazy and don't park at his place. We pulled up, got packed up and off we went. In the picture below, the bikerafts are rolled up in dry sacks and strapped to the handlebars.
A couple miles down the road a pick up truck waved us over. It was Greg, saying we're crazy and offering his home and mobile phone to us incase we got into trouble.
The first part of the ride was a mix well traveled dirt and paved roads.
About six miles into it, we came to a dead end. After looking at the map, we decided to climb the dirt pile road block and press on through the woods along what used to be a road. There were several saplings that succumbed to the weight of the snow that we had to duck under.
After about a mile of hike-a-bike trough the snow, we came to a clearing where the dirt roads appeared again.
After a couple more miles of dirt roads we came back out to the paved road where it was an easy, mostly downhill ride to the put in.
It was about 4:00 PM when we got to the put in and we knew it would be getting dark soon, so we inflated the bikerafts and loaded them up for a quick paddle to look for a good place to camp along the river.
After about 30 minutes we found a great spot with rocks that made a perfect natural boat ramp to take about and camp for the night.
We set up camp, gathered the driest wood we could find and settled in for the night.
We had Mountain House Chili Mac for dinner and polished off the night with a flask of scotch. I guess it was continuing to warm up through out the night. We slept to the sounds of ice falling from the tree limbs throughout the night.
The next day we awoke to a small rain storm, but by the time we were ready to get up and going the showers had passed. After cooking some Mountain House breakfast packs, we broke down camp, packed the rafts back up and set off downstream to the chutes and falls on the steaming river.
Being the only people on the river, there was no one ahead of us to scare off the wildlife. Along the way we saw deer, turkey, hawks and cranes (sorry no pics of any of those).
After about three hours of paddling, we reached the take out at the highway bridge. It was starting to rain again as we packed everything back onto the bikes and had a short 6 mile ride back to the car.
When we got back to the car we were soaked and freezing. We quickly loaded everything back in the car and changed into dry clothes. On the way home the sun was finally trying to come out from behind the clouds.
It was a really great trip. I'm so glad that no one sad what they were thinking on our dive up.