State 24 of 50: Missouri – Eleven Point River

Dramatic display of the destructive power of flood waters!
Date Paddled:  May 18, 2017
Nearest City:  Alton, MO
Put-In:  State Route 19 access
Take-Out:  Whitten Landing
Duration:   4.5 hours
River Miles:  11 miles
Shuttle:   long (30 min.) road shuttle; 3 mile tough gravel road to Whitten Landing
Weather:  cloudy to PC, windy; 80 degrees.
Difficulty:  Strong current, no significant rapids; numerous hazards from flooding (downed trees, roots, misc. strainers)
Cfs:  approx. 2500

Less well-known than many of the Ozark waterways in neighboring Arkansas or Oklahoma, the Eleven Point is a good-sized river that traverses a lovely, if undramatic, landscape of foothills in south-central Missouri.  Our visit came on the heels of a massive rain event about two weeks earlier that had caused severe flooding on many rivers in the region, including the Eleven Point, and much destruction in towns and cities in the region.

The USGS gauge on the river went off scale for more than 24 hours, indicating flows well in excess of 30,000 CFS reaching perhaps a dozen or more feet above flood stage.  The devastation that this kind of flooding is capable of was apparent as soon as we got to the river.

DSCN5745The scope of the damage became truly clear only once we set out on the still-swift current of the Eleven Point.  The speed of the water, combined with the numerous hazards left by the flood’s surge a few weeks earlier, required constant vigilance to avoid being swept toward the river’s banks that were, in many places, strewn with debris.  Often the tangle of uprooted trees and flotsam extended both many feet out into the river channel and many feet up the steep wooded banks.  In places it seemed like the destruction was concentrated on one side of the Eleven Point, extending for hundreds of yards.  In other places the devastation was equally distributed on both sides – no part of the river seemed to have escaped Nature’s fury.DSCN5726Despite this dramatic backdrop, we had a lovely and scenic paddle on the Eleven Point.  Animal life, especially birds, seemed to have returned to normal, and we saw eagles, herons (including three rare green herons), kingfishers, a few ducks, and many songbirds that were heard more often than seen.  We also saw a few turtles near the beginning, a hopeful sign that the smaller aquatic animals had managed to weather the floods.DSCN5753



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