KAW 173 – Day 6

KAW 173 – Day 6


River Mile 92 and kayaked 25 miles to River Mile 67 on the Kansas River Water Trail.

We departed the cabin early this morning. We knew this was a big day with a community visit in Topeka and we wanted to be on the river early and be well prepared. We had spent the night before discussing all of our strategies for portaging Topeka and making it past the diversion wall at Tecumseh. We knew we had a big day ahead, as we were planning on a 25 mile track. Today was a busy day on the river.


When we left the cabin, there was a fine fog all across the river valley. Spectacular colors bouncing off the sky, colors of pink in between the sun shining through the fog. It looks like mist rising off the river. We enjoyed a very beautiful and slow paddle into Kaw River State Park where we would meet with Secretary Loveless of Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, as well as Dr. Ted Daughty, the husband of Governor Kelly.


We were so surprised to see so many of you at the boat ramp in Topeka. What a wonderful way to arrive, with all of you there on the boat ramp cheering us on! I cannot begin to tell you how much it meant to everyone on our team. We have two people on our team that hail from Topeka and I think it was really wonderful for them to see such a great showing from their hometown.

We enjoyed a few minutes there, discussing the water trail and talking to local media. But the real fun was paddling down to the Topeka weir with Secretary Loveless and Dr. Daughety.
When we arrived at the Topeka weir, we were once again greeted by a great group. Many of our volunteers came to help us unload our kayaks and port them. We also had friends that brought us food from a local Topeka eatery, which includes wonderful breakfast burritos that were bigger than you could ever imagine! Along with our friends, we got settled and we’re ready to takeoff once again.

The biggest challenge on the river remained ahead. There is a diversion wall at Tecumseh that has been in the river since the 1920s due to a power plant that is owned by Evergy. The plant has recently been decommissioned, but the wall remains. It is a challenging area not only due to the wall, but there is also a granite bar, boulders in the river and a lime stone ledge. Between all of these forces in the water, it can be difficult at any water level. It takes a little bit of skill to figure out the best route and it’s an area that we constantly advocate for change. We all celebrated when we made it past this point in the river, because from here it is pretty much smooth sailing. We still need to port Bowersock in Lawrence, but we have many friends that will be waiting for us to help. There is also one more portage it in Johnson County, but again it’s not a difficult one.

We made it to our favorite sandbar, just upstream of Lecompton. We have affectionately called the sandbar Beaver Hollow. This is one of the best little hidden gems on the river. Tons of wildlife, a great little sandbar tucked away on the backside of an island, shade for sitting, and plenty of room for our tents.


We are all grateful to be back on the sandbar and on the river. I’m pretty certain each of us will sleep well tonight. Tomorrow, we will meet you all at Lecompton for a paddle to Lawrence. We look forward to also having a community visit in Lawrence at the 8th Street boat ramp. I hope you all can join us, can’t wait to see you on the river!


For the river,

Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper

KAW 173 – Day 5

KAW 173 – Day 5

River Mile 92 on the Kansas River Water Trail Day off river due to high flows.

We woke up refreshed this morning at Sach’s cabin. We made a big pot of coffee, sat on the front porch and watched it rain and rain and rain. We were really thankful that we were able to stay in the cabin. We spent our morning discussing logistics for the rest of the trip, looking at hydrographs of the river flows, looking at weather forecasts and strategizing for the next half of the river. A couple of folks in the group fixed breakfast and what a feast! All with food that was provided by the owners of the cabin, just for us. We enjoyed bacon, scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, hashbrowns, juice and coffee! We truly didn’t feel like we deserved all that but are very thankful.


Here along the river in Silver Lake, it rained until early afternoon. A few people took time to go for a long walk, others read a book, some took a nap, we organized gear… but most of us spent time figuring out how to get all of our gear dry. Finally, the sun came out and we found all the sunny spots we could find to lay everything out. I think we can say that by the end of the day everything is dry… for the moment!


This evening we have enjoyed each other’s company on the porch again. We feel like we are prepared for the second half of the trip. We even made a few adjustments to our gear and our plans for then next three portages as well as well as the Tecumseh diversion wall. Late this afternoon in the sun, we also got out our rescue ropes and practiced our throwing skills. It’s never a bad idea to practice those techniques.

We feel rested, and ready for the next half of the journey. We are so very grateful to the Sach family for the roof over our head for two nights, all of the food that they provided, and their sincere hospitality. Do us a favor and look up Kaw River Adventures and send them some Facebook Love!

We are on to Kaw State Park tomorrow morning for our community visit. We will be greeted by Secretary Loveless of Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, as well as potentially Governor Kelly for a brief part of the tour. We are delighted that all of these people see the value of the Kansas River Water Trail. We will be there at 8:30 AM tomorrow, we hope to see you there!

For the river,

Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper

KAW 173 – Day 4

KAW 173 – Day 4

River Mile 123 and kayaked 31 miles to River Mile 92 on the Kansas River Water Trail

We were welcomed around 5:30 this morning to the sound of thunder and lightning. We had anticipated this, so it was no surprise although we had expected it to happen earlier in the night. As I’m writing this, I am in my tent completely dry listening to the sound of the rain, thunder and lightening.


Morning rain is a quiet and contemplative place. I often think of my childhood and years spent camping and boating in the rain. My parents led by example and never let a little rain stop them.

We pushed off the sandbar by 9am and made a slight change to our plans. I was watching the hydrograph and I could see that the river was still stable for the moment and would be for the rest of the day, but the surge of rain would hit the river on Tuesday.

Our original plan was to supply up at Belvue and then find a sandbar for the night. We were then planning to stay at Sach’s Cabin (Kaw River Adventures) on Tuesday night to get a much-needed shower and rest before our big Community Visit at Topeka. Well, the best laid plans often and get changed by mother nature…So I contacted Robby at Kaw River Adventures home of the Sach’s Cabin and asked if we could camp in our tents for the night, a day early. We decided it was best to sit out on Tuesday and let the wall of water get past us for a safer adventure.

Robby and his family have been so good to us over the years, and today was no different. They told us to come on out and they’d have the cabin ready for us. We stopped off at Belvue around 11 AM after an interview with KSNT News. We paddled a total of 31 miles today and feel good about our progress. We did see lots of wildlife, but to be honest we were on a mission to get to the cabin by the end of the day.

We arrive at the cabin at 5:30 pm and were warmly greeted by Robby, Bob, Suzy, and Everett. They helped us get our gear unloaded, boats secure and everything up to the cabin. Once we got to the cabin, we were surprised by Suzy with fried chicken, cheese potatoes, corn, close slaw, biscuits and baked beans! Can you imagine our delight? What a wonderful family, they truly make you feel welcome and so at home in their cabin. I still can’t believe the food spread that awaited us!

At this point in the day, we are all taking turns for the shower! It feels so good… and tonight we will all get a good nights sleep off the river in a safe spot.

Tomorrow, on Tuesday, we will wait the day out off the river and let the higher flows from the rains pass us. On Wednesday morning, we will push off from the cabin and arrive at Kaw State Park as planned to meet with Secretary Loveless of KDWPT and others from the Topeka Riverfront Advisory Committee. We hope that many of our members will join us in celebration on Wednesday morning in celebration of the Kansas River Water Trail in Topeka!

On top of this change of plans, my son had made plans to come and join us for the 30 miles between Belvue and Topeka, as a birthday gift. Our family has a tradition of giving each other our time in leu of gifts. I am very grateful for this day with my son on the river that I love and grateful for this KAW 173 team!


For the river,
Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper

KAW 173 – Day 3

KAW 173 – Day 3

River Mile 141 and kayaked 18 miles to River mile 123 on the Kansas River Water Trail

We made it another day and we are grateful!

Taking a cue from my paddle teammate and friend, David, I’m voice recording my thoughts along the way today down the river.

We shoved off from the sandbar on a crisp morning. Blue sky, puffs of clouds, cool water, and a beautiful start to the day. We only have 6 miles to go to St George, so we are taking our time and enjoying the river. And as I write this blog this morning, I literally just saw a beaver dive into the Kaw. A few minutes later, a bald eagle atop a dead tree branch. So much wildlife on the Kaw.

After a slow ride, we arrived at St George early, and that’s fine with our team. A little time to sit in the shade, take a nap, or walk into St George. We love St George, a beautiful river town and so close to the boat ramp. A few of my teammates walked into town for both a walk and to look around and brought back coffee. Later, our teammate Kim brought pizza from Willies Hideout, our treat for the day!

We had a great group join our Public Paddle from St George to Wamego. We enjoyed visiting with all of them, each one has a cool story about their experience with the Kaw. We enjoyed a very refreshing sit in the water at a sandbar, that we have dubbed the “Kaw Spa”, an original 173 Team term for our sand baths while soaking away the day’s sun.

Arriving in Wamego, an equally beautiful river town, also walking distance to the downtown deli or the coffee shop! Nestled in a beautiful park setting, the Wamego Ramp is a nice stop along the trail. We departed our friends – some old and some new – and headed down the river. We made it another 6 miles and found a perfect backside island with shade to share stories of the day and rest off the heat and fatigue. We are hoping for another miss with thunderstorms, but we are camped in a protected area for the night.

Today we saw beaver, bald eagles, ducks, blue jay, two owls and many tracks on the sandbar. Mostly, this was a day to enjoy our friends. Thanks for following along, we’ve made it exactly 50 miles total today!

For the river,

Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper