North Platte River – Foote to Ft. Steele – Wyoming

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Calm water on the North Platte River, Wyoming

Two years ago I floated the North Platte River between the Foote put-in (North of Saratoga) and the I-80 take-out at the Fort Steele takeout. This year I was invited to float it again with one of the same guys as last time, and his youngest son, and another guy and his youngest son, for a three-day, two night trip on the river. Check out my previous post for additional information.  This year the water flow was    around 650 cfs through-out the float according to the USGS data.

We arrived in the dark at what we thought was the put-in, but discovered at dawn that it wasn’t the same spot. Apparently there are two launches within a quarter mile of each other. So when turning off the highway at the 5N Ranch sign, and following to the right at any turn-off’s on the way to the river, take the straight route at the last intersection to get to the launch without the 30 feet of rocky shore. If you turn right and get to the Foote launch site with all the rock, I’d suggest going back and heading to the other launch because of the sandy beach.

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Rocky launch (upper photos) and sandy launch (bottom) at Foote

The trip itself is pretty tame, though, at 650 cfs, plan on bumping some river rock as you float through some of the shallower areas. I always carry an epoxy repair kit now, just in case I damage my CLC Mill Creek 13. Fortunately, everything went smoothly with no damage issues, though I bounced off plenty of rocks and added plenty of scrapes and scuffs on the bottom of the hull.

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The river-rats shortly after our Saturday morning launch

Seeps in the rocks create a cool, wet environment in some areas.

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Seeps in the rocks create a cool area when passing by

The two drivers shuttled the vehicles in less than an hour and I believe we launched around 10:30AM, arriving at the Pick bridge launch in time for lunch.

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View at the Pick Bridge launch

Even though this is relatively wide-open and windy Wyoming there are some cliffs along the river adding to the scenery.

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Kyle and John float past some cliffs

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Cliffs and then trees create changes on scenery

Around 5:30PM we pulled up to our camp spot, which was the same one as last trip. This is a nice spot on a shelf in some tall grass. There are plenty of mosquitoes up there, but there is a rocky landing area which makes a nice gathering spot for campfires (in a fire pan) and cooking.

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View from camp on night 1

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Gathering area on the rocky shore below camp

While this is a river known for its fishing, there is plenty of ranching as well, so in addition the numerous bald eagles and pelicans, there are some areas with cattle right along the river’s edge.

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Cattle can be seen grazing along the river

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A flight of pelicans

The boys had some fun catching cray-fish, though we didn’t keep any to eat.

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Plenty of crayfish along the river’s edge

The second night’s camp was just up river from the last trip, closer to the shore. We did battle the mosquitoes a bit and I was glad I brought my mosquito head net.

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Sunset at camp 2

Monday morning began sunny, though it would be raining and very windy by the time got off the river. The mosquitoes were less ferocious this morning and breakfast was pleasant.

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Marty (left) and John (right) prepare breakfast

I brought along a few extra items on this trip.

First, I brought three stoves (in case you haven’t seen my previous posts, I have a bunch). One was my trusty 400A, second was the newly acquired, but not fully checked out 1962 Coleman 501, and finally a 1945 Prentiss-Wabers M1942 stove. The 501’s generator needs to be cleaned and didn’t work. The M1942 worked great for my percolator, and I used the 400A for cooking everything else.

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M1942 percolating coffee and the 400A with the skillet

I also brought my Brunton Pocket Transit and Rangematic 1000 Rangefinder. I measured two cliffs, one at each camp. Both measurements were within approximately 25 feet of the readings taken off of a GPS, the second of which was 154 feet high as compared to my measurement of 128 feet.

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How high? Measure and calculate using the Rangematic and Brunton Pocket Transit

The float on the third day was pleasant, except for the wind, and as usual I wished we didn’t have to get off the river so soon.

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The takeout at Ft. Steele and I-80

Like the last trip, we stopped for a late lunch at J.W. Hugus in Saratoga before continuing on through the mountains past Lake Marie and heading back home.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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