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Skunk River Paddlers


An Exploratory Trip on the Little Turkey River
April 6, 2002

We met at Rick's. Dave, John, Colin and Michael pulled up with the magic trailer shortly after Lynn pulled in. I did a quick spot check to be sure that it really was car magazines they were looking at and making their comments about. And then we were off on a long ride. It was probably was longer for Dave with the three young guys in his car.

Mark had camped out the night before and was at Gouldburg County Park when we got there. Peggy showed up while the others were shuttling the cars. We had white water, recreational, and sea kayaks, as well as a tandem canoe. Watch for that first fence at the bridge as you leave the park. In high waters, it would be better to put in just downstream from the bridge.

This small stream was recommended by Hugh. And it was worth the effort. The woodland bluffs had some birch trees and some limestone outcropping; sights not common in central Iowa. We also enjoyed our day on the river with Bald Eagles, Canadian Geese, Turkey Vultures, Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Coots and other assorted ducks and birds as well as lots of carp. Besides these usual treats we also saw a lone swan, one of the surprises we enjoyed.

The low water and head winds were surprises of another sort. There is no gauge on the Little River, but the gauge on the Turkey River near Eldorado was at about 150 cfs, which is just a bit too low. For perspective, normal flow for this time of year is 600cfs. Fortunately, the shuttle masters left a car about six or so miles downstream and that was where we took out.

But our adventure didn't end there. We took a roundabout way back by first stopping at Boike's in Fayette. We had eaten at this family ran restaurant before and had been pleased by the good food and friendly service. We were led to the back like they were happy to see us and were expecting our party of 9. Still, even I was surprised when the owner, Deb, was inspired by Dave's bald head.

As an aside, it turns out that Rick had gone to school with the owners, Deb & Dave. At any rate, we ate well, but especially Colin who had two meals and dessert. The homemade banana crème pie was delicious. Now, more than well fed and warm again too, we headed back in a little caravan.

Our last surprise though was Colin: he was seen foraging again about an hour later. And if Colin is around when we do this river again, bring food.


photo by Peggy Murdoch
photo by Peggy Murdoch