Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 14

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 14

Getting ready for KAW 173 Weekend #2 Wamego to Topeka (38 Miles)

Field Ecology class from the University of Kansas

It’s been a whirlwind month at FOK.  Summer is always busy for us and we love very bit of it.  We’ve had many public and educational events to round out the month on top of advocacy and grant writing.  And in the middle of all of that, I tried to take a few days off to recharge.  We are grateful for many press opportunities lately with a podcast from Kansas Reflector, as well as an interview with KCUR’s Steve Kraske and the “Up to Date” show!  What a highlight for FOK to be on the local NPR station.  Our little non-profit is still chugging along, thanks to all of you and opportunities like this to share our story. 

Kansas River from Junction City to Ogden through the Flint Hills.

It’s hard to believe that the end of July is almost here and we are embarking on Weekend #2 of the KAW 173!  We hope that you will follow along on our Facebook page as we do LIVE posts on the sandbar.  We will leave Wamego on Friday afternoon and go all the way to Kaw River State Park in Topeka.  This is a 30 mile stretch between Belvue and Topeka with no access ramps.  It’s a quiet, peaceful and wild stretch of the Kaw with many opportunities to see wildlife and immerse yourself in nature.  And the stars!  The stars are so bright that you can feel the river and prairie in a magical way.

So, follow along…and next time, join us!

For the river,

Dawn Buehler

Your Kansas Riverkeeper

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 13

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 13

KAW 173 Weekend #1 Junction City to Wamego (45 Miles)

We rolled into the parking lot at Junction City and I checked the radar for the thousandth time.  Thunderstorms were forecast for the eastern part of the state, but in Kansas you just never know what it’s going to do.  I was hoping the west side of the river would be spared. 

Part of the team that launched in the first wave. Photo by Marcia Rozell

The humidity was high as we unloaded our boats and gear and shuffled up and down the boat ramp.  We still had another shuttle run to make, but half of us would stay and gear squared away.  We finally launched the 173 team off of Junction City in two waves and arrived at our sandbar 6 miles downstream in time for the edge of a small shower to just clip us.  Yeah, we got wet but let me tell you, it was refreshing! 

After the brief shower, the clouds parted and the sun came out for a beautiful evening.  We enjoyed getting to know each other around the campfire, sharing funny stories and the bonfire question:  what was your favorite river to kayak and why?  We learned about many different river experiences around the campfire that night. We also did a little sandbar CSI….where we find animal tracks and try to figure out which creature created the tracks and why! 

KAW Sunset after rain. Photo by Dawn Buehler

Up early the next morning and we know we’ve got 21 miles ahead to Manhattan, so we shove off and enjoy the beautiful Kaw morning.  The sounds of the song birds, quiet trickle of the river, shade of the banks, and the coolness that comes off the Cottonwood trees in the early morning.  It’s a spectacular place to be. 

Napping on the Kaw after an early morning. Photo by Greg Zolnerowich

People often ask me, “what is your favorite section of the river?”  Well…you see, my heart lives in the section from Eudora to De Soto…my home and the place of my childhood farm.  There is something so special about that section…yes, it is beautiful, but I think for me it’s the memories.  My second favorite place on the river, though….is Ogden to Manhattan.  Have you ever seen the Flint Hills from a kayak on the Kaw?  If you have, you know what I’m talking about.  The crisp color of green rolling hills with the Kansas River woven in between in the valley.  This lush green tree canopy that creates a path in between and a vessel for me to travel through this most magnificent place that I can only see from the river.  You can literally feel yourself in the Flint Hills…. the river behind you is above, the river in front of you is below…and you are riding the river down the hill.  To feel it and realize it, is an amazing experience. 

Camping on the Kaw Night 2. Photo by Dawn Buehler

We arrived at Manhattan in the late afternoon, resupplied with water and bid farewell to a couple of friends that were ending at Manhattan.  The rest of the crew went on to the sandbar for the night and again enjoyed a beautiful evening around the campfire.  I can’t explain what happens around a campfire, but if you’ve ever been there, then you just know.  Magical friendships form and experience cemented together that forever bind you to that day.

Along the entire KAW 173 weekend, we saw bald eagles, blue heron, deer, turtle tracks, otter tracks, racoon tracks, and a pretty little sand frog that seemed to perfectly blend in with the sandbar.  We are always grateful for the time spent in their home. 

On Sunday, we decided we would get on the river early because we heard that the coffee shop in St. George had donuts and it was open until 11:00 am according to Google.  However, Google failed!  We arrived at St. George and no donuts, but the memory of paddling for donuts lives on!  We had a great time joking about who would get the donuts and who would not….and if there were only a few, how we would split them and many other moments of fun and laughter.  We went on to enjoy a wonderful day of paddling all the way to Wamego, arriving in early afternoon.  Just enough time to grab a bite to eat at the local deli or a cup of coffee at the coffee shop before heading home. 

Our KAW 173 Weekend #1 was a success – thanks to great flows, great weather and even better team of folks to enjoy the experience.  We made new friendships and enjoyed spending time with old friends too. 

Part of the team that finished at Wamego. Photo by Jason Keilman

Our next adventure along the Kansas River Water Trail is the last weekend in July.  We will depart Wamego and paddle 38 miles to Topeka – right through one of the most gorgeous and quiet sections of the Kaw.

In the meantime, we’ve got a few public paddles (actually a lot) …and a bunch of events to tend to.  Oh…and advocacy, there’s always advocacy!

See you on the river,

Dawn

You Kansas Riverkeeper

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