The 60th Sunset Race on the Meramec (5 years) took place in December. I decided to celebrate by taking the day off work to be on the river all day. This was a very cold day. When I got to the river, I had to break ice at the bottom of the ramp to get the boat in the water. During the morning, sheets of ice floated down the river. The high for the day was 34 °F and the low was 13 °F. I spent most of the day outside on the river.
I started around 11:30 am on the river with Dan Prater. We went downstream for about 2 miles until we got to a point where the river was blocked by ice all the way across. We turned around and went to the shore to have a soup lunch. Dan brought a thermos and I used a small stove to heat mine.
We paddled back to the put in and Dan took off for something else later that day. I went to the car and got the 50 ish pound water jug that would be the ballast while I paddled on solo. On my own, I went upstream about a mile enjoying the quiet of the day. Eventually I pulled over to the shore and got out my chair. I sat on the shore enjoying the quite of the cold river and the ice all around me.
Eventually the cold got the best of me and I packed up my mini camp and headed back to the put in. Funny how you’re always warmer when you are paddling! At the put in. I took the water ballast back to the van and sat inside with the heat running for a bit to warm up. I probably spent an hour warming up. Finally JoJo, Joe Sartori, and Joey Hager showed up for the official Sunset paddle.
We didn’t go all the way like we usually do. As the sun dropped, sheets of ice the size of plywood started floating down the river. It was an obstical course trying to miss them and we didn’t miss them all. In an effort of personal safety and fear of equipment failure, we headed back to the safety of land at the ramp. Finally we finished out a fantastic night at TJ Wings for a beer and food.
It was a perfect day to celebrate a paddling tradition!