Monday, March 26, 2007

Kayaking the Kiamichi River

Kayaking the Kiamichi River
Originally uploaded by FreeWine.
Road Trip to Antlers, Oklahoma

Despite weather forecasts of impending rain and thunderstorms, Dianne and I decided to head out to one of our favorite campgrounds in Southwestern, Oklahoma. K-River Campground on the Kiamichi River offers canoe & kayak rentals, shuttle service, cabins, tent camping and RV sites. You can find out all about the campground from the campground owner Tom Garrett's website:

For us, almost the entire drive is on Indian Nations turnpike, you have to pay some tolls, but it is very fast road. Take the Antlers exit off the turnpike and K-River campground is just a few miles north of Antlers on Hwy 2. See the maps on Tom's website.

Spending the night in one of Kriver's cabins has become something of a March tradition with Dianne and I. Spring weather makes me anxious to get on the water and Dianne prefers to focus more of her attention on the NCAA Basketball tournament. The DishTV equipped cabins on the Kiamichi River at K-River campground provide the perfect compromise. The WiFi internet access recently added makes the offer even more attractive.

The Paddling at Kriver Camp

Tom Garrett and his crew will outfit you and your group for paddling trips of almost any size from just a few hours to several days on the river. Water levels can change very fast on this part of the Kiamichi due to water releases from nearby Clayton Lake. Last year, we arrived to find the river nearly dry and the next more it was bank-to-bank and rolling! This weekend the water level was low, but good enough to paddle for several miles around the campground and sme folks were getting shuttled upriver to 9-Mile creek and paddling down to the camp.

This time we decided to paddle the waters just upstream and downstream from the campground. The deeper water holes are upstream from K-River Campground but there are more sights to see on the river paddling downstream from camp a short distance.
Going upstream we occassionally stepped out of our kayaks to wade a few yards through the low water rapids. There was enough current to take us down these same low water rapids, but the water level was too low for me to paddle up them. Although the weather was rather warm and humid, we had NO problems with either mosquitos or ticks. Strangely, we saw NO turtles or wading birds on the river. The water was quite clear and cold, and since upstream of Kriver camp is heading East and downstream is heading West there are ample opportunities for photography.

Paddling downstream just a short ways will bring you to an old decayed railroad bridge that is excellent for composing into pictures. I must have taken 3 dozen shots of it on Saturday morning. I certainly need to return sometime for some sunset shots there. Paddling under the old railroad bridge and up the creek will bring you to the current highway bridge across Buck Creek. You can paddle quite a ways up this creek also. Of course, when the water level is low here as well, so you have to hop out and walk up the occasional gravel bar dragging your boat. However, this is a small price to pay for the fun of paddling back downstream again.

The Cabin at K-River

I love the location of K-River campground, however their cabins are not exactly what you would normally expect. Our cabin was built from a storage building that had been converted to a retail store that had been converted to a cabin. In fact, it still has the "Basket Barn" sign on the front! Following the converted barn theme, we had lunch Saturday afternoon in Antlers at the "Burger Barn", also made from a converted storage building!

The campground is run entirely by men and you can tell it from the details. Expect expert advice on river conditions, but do not expect a mint on your pillow. Even their finest Dish TV equipped cabins are very spartan and the water smells of suphur. Bring your own dishes, linens, towels, washclothes, coffee cups, coffee, blankets, grill...basically everything. Cabins cost from $45 to $85 per night.

RV Parking on the River

The RV parking spots are wide and plentiful and many offer a fine river view. We were especially happy to find the WiFi internet up and easy to work with, in fact we used it to pay for our lodging via paypal minutes after arriving. The RV parking prices seem quite reasonable: 30 amp - $18 for 2 adults. $3 ea for extra adults 16 or over. Includes water and electric. $22 for 50 amp hookup. I think we may bring our toyhauler down here the next time we can get away for a week or so.

Canoe & Kayak Rentals

Canoes - $30 per canoe for half day trip. Group canoe rate is $25 ea for 10 canoes or more.

Kayaks - $20 per half day trip. $30 for full day or overnight.

Tubing - $5 each - $20 minimum per group.

Canoe & Kayak Boat Shuttles

Your boats, your vehicle - $12 minimum

Your boats, their vehicle - $20 minimum

Any Problems?

There are a number of free running camp dogs that might be scary to very small children or folks unaquainted with country dogs. We didn't mind as Dianne and I have lived in the country our whole lives and we can tell the difference between country dogs and feral dogs. The biggest problem we saw? No cell phone signal. Sadly, I cannot sneak away to K-River on a Thursday and work as if I am working from home the rest of the week without cell phone signal.

Nearby Civilization Resources

Just a couple of miles from camp is a nice general store in Moyers, Oklahoma and if you travel a bit further down the road you come to Antlers, Oklahoma. Antlers has a couple of motels, several restaurants and the usual small town businesses. Antlers currently has no Wal-Mart, a fact that no doubt saved us a fortune!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Herons on Deep Fork and More

Heron Shot
Originally uploaded by FreeWine.
It may be Spring Break for the kids, but Dianne and I have been extremely busy lately. Spring is huge part of the business season for the Oklahoma wineries Dianne supports and at my job I have been filling in for some peers. The result is that despite the recently warm weather, we have not gotten much time for paddling. Thankfully, we have few spots we can go to quickly. When time is short, we usually paddle our local lakes or the Deep Fork River.

Herons on Deep Fork River

Since the construction of the new boat ramp on Deep Fork, we have taken to calling it "Dryfoot Landing". As kayakers, we normally don't think much about boat ramps. However, Deep Fork has exceptionally sticky mud on the banks making the concrete boat ramp a welcome addition to this paddling spot. It is this sticky read mud that makes Deep Fork somewhat less-than-scenic to my eye. The landscape is almost monochromatic in a dull brick red color (examples). I often have a frustratingly tough time making cool pictures on Deep Fork, but this time nature provided a colony of herons for me to photograph.

Cranes vs. Herons

Knowing virtually nothing about birds, I have always called the tall wading birds in our area 'cranes'. It turns out the what I had been calling a crane was often a very cool looking bird called the Great Blue Heron. One way to tell the difference between cranes and herons is by their nests. Cranes nest alone on the ground and herons nest in treetop communities. The least time we paddled the Deep Fork River we paddled right up to a heron community tree just loaded with herons. See the Great Blue Herons Flickr Picture Set we created of the occasion. They aren't going to get Mutual Of Omaha to hire Dianne and I for Wild Kingdom 2007, but we enjoyed watching the heron colony for sometime and took loads of pictures.

Oklahoma Paddling Tip: Lake paddling can be a bit of a bummer on the kind of windy days that are so common in Oklahoma. Curvy rivers like Deep Fork offer quite a bit of wind break and tend to be less wavy due to fewer boat wakes.

Oklahoma Lake Kayaking at Dripping Springs

Like many fairly new reservoir lakes in Oklahoma, Dripping Springs Lake near Okmulgee, Oklahoma is full of drowning trees. The tree corpses poke up from the lake's surface like weird arms grasping at the sky. Their reflections seem to spell out strange words as the shadows lengthen at sunset. Anytime I paddle there around sunrise or sunset, I see loads of potential pictures. I love taking pictures from my kayak and luckily for me, Clovis Point RV campground on Dripping Springs is real close to home. Here's a link to our Flickr set of Dripping Spring Lake pictures.

Surfer-style boardshorts are great for kayak paddling. They drip dry ultra-fast and are all-day comfortable unlike most bathing suits.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Brazos River Clean-up April 14, 2007

Originally uploaded by FreeWine.
Paddle the Brazos
4th Annual River Clean-up

Help maintain the beauty of the Brazos River
in Glen Rose
Saturday, April 14, 2007

Canoes, Paddles and Lifejackets
provided at no charge
Free BBQ Lunch after the clean-up
Meet at Tres Rios Campground at 9 AM
2322 County Road 312, Glen Rose, TX
Join a team for one section of river
Free shuttles will be coordinated
To reserve a canoe contact
Barb Cutter

Tent campsites at Tres Rios are complimentary April 13 - 15. Cabins are also available for rent. Call campground for information and reservations

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Two OKC Area Paddling Events for Spring

Paddling Off into the Sunset
Originally uploaded by FreeWine.
The Red Dirt Paddlers dropped me a line to remind of folks to mark the calendars with these two dates:

Sat. March 31, 2007 10 am to 5 pm Chesapeake Boat House Opening Day

Sat. April 21, 2007 9:30am to 12:30pm Overholser/Stinchcomb Clean Up

Chesapeake Boat House Opening Day

As Oklahoma marks its Centennial Celebration, celebrate the beginning of spring on the Oklahoma River with "Opening Day 2007!"

* Saturday, March 31, 2007 10 am to 5 pm
* Chesapeake Boathouse Tours
* Free Discover Rowing Classes
* Kayaking
* Dragon Boating

Meet our juniors, masters and collegiate crews and learn how you can get on the water at the Chesapeake Boathouse. No reservations required – just plan to dress comfortably and have fun!

Lake Overholser Clean Up Day:
Sat. April 21; 9:30am - 12:30pm
Meet at Lake Overholser pavilion at N.W.14th and Overholser Drive
More information email