Nick Swider and his two kids, Jeremy and Johnell, and I decided to paddle the Jefferson in two canoes last week. The river was running high but not dangerous so we moved at a good pace. We planned on doing the whole river, which was 84 miles, in two days but that meant doing 42 miles per day and we didn't know if we could do it because of our late start. On a river like the Missouri going 42 miles a day is tough but we had a better chance on the fast flowing Jefferson.
My dad dropped us off and then returned my truck to three forks, where would end the trip. We were leery of making the whole 84 miles so we put in at Silver star which would made the trip 73 miles. We got pushed a long at a good pace and averaged, with paddling, about 6-8 miles per hour.
We hit our first of 3 diversion dams after an hour or so. It was much bigger than we thought so we had to portage.
We came to a cool spot on the river where a waterfall dumped in the river. I am sure this waterfall isn't very big most times of the year but it was this day because of the runoff. We moved down the river and saw a house with all kinds of rock work around it that made it look like the Alamo. We were all staring at it and almost wrecked into an island. Johnell and I missed it by going right. Jeremy and Nick were also distracted and never saw us almost wreck so they slammed into the island and went left. This turned out providential because the next diversion dam was around the corner and we didn't know it. I heard it before we saw it so we pulled over just in time to see Nick and Jeremy about to go through the biggest part of the dam They made it without wrecking, by God's grace. We scouted it out and decided to paddle upstream a ways and shoot through the far side of the dam. We also made it. It was a fun surprise.
Close to Lewis and Clark Caverns we saw a big cave, big enough to fly an airplane in. We couldn't stop because there was some rapids in our path. We were making such good time that Nick and Jeremy came up with the idea to try and make the whole 73 miles in one day. Johnell agreed and I was in as well. We stopped to eat dinner very fast and got back on the river.
We hit our third diversion dam, scouted it out, and ran it to the right and made it smoothly. The rest of the river was slower and easy. We paddled non-stop now until the end. We paddled through a heavy rain storm and then a little later through a very heavy hail storm. We came to the truck at almost dark. It was just light enough to see my truck on the side of the road. Before the truck was a bridge with a huge eddy under it. Johnell and I avoided it by going around it but Nick and Jeremy went right into it and actually got stuck in it. I looked back and saw them spinning around in the eddy and laughed and laughed. They finally got out and we paddled upstream on the Madison for a short ways to get to the truck. It was a great trip that tested our limits.