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