A Sevier Boat Trip
by Dave Hahn

As spring slowly supplanted winter and the possiblity of a real-live boat trip came to be, only two weekends seemed to be available for the great float trip down the Sevier River. My son Andy called me one day to say that his family would be out of town for the next two week ends, and if we could find a good, close destination, he would be able to break away from work for part of a Friday and all of Saturday. Like many young men starting out in the working world, vacation days are precious and not to be squandered (i.e. boat trips are not encouraged if they use vaction time...). We had to find a destination that was fairly close and off the beaten track. Both of us like to be in wild places, but they often entail many hours of travel. After much discussion we settled on a float trip down a nearby stretch of our old neighborly river, the Sevier.

it seemed like we were a million miles from anywhere

The Sevier River (pronounced severe) is probably one of the most controlled rivers anywhere. In a thirsty area it has long ago became more or less a canal used to deliver irrigation water to crop land. Recreation is generally powerboating in the larger reservoirs, and almost no one ever goes where Andy and I planned to go, and certainly not in plywood boats powered by oar and sail.

The first weekend came and went in a hurricane of cold winter-like wind. Spring-like weather finally came on April 30, and we packed our boats and hauled them down to the river. There were no docks or ramps, so we hauled them down through the brush and plopped them into the water. Finally, at about 5:30 in the afternoon we started drifting down stream.

at about 5:30 in the afternoon we started drifting down stream.

A flatwater float trip is wonderfully lazy. Through this section of the river there are no roads, and although we could hear sounds of civilization from time to time, it seemed like we were a million miles from anywhere. It was comfortably warm and we had time to talk and catch up with all the things in life that you just don't have time to say.

we found a likely sandbar for a camp site.

About 7:30 or so the sun started to cast long shadows and we found a likely sandbar for a camp site. We had a little wrestling match pulling the boats onto the sand as the bar was very flat. We made camp, cooked dinner and tried to entice a fish to bite. Tried being the operative word. There aren't many fish in the Sevier as it almost dries up every summer.

it was a pretty long night.

The night was cold, and although we had rigged a tent on each boat it was a pretty long night. In the morning there was a good coating of frost on everything outside the boats. It was good to see the sun, and a driftwood fire soon had us thawed.

It's kind of embarassing to admit that you had to eat the bait for breakfast, but I forgot the skillet, and so pancakes and fried eggs were not an option. Fortunately our bait consisted mostly of pre-cooked frozen shrimp, and they made a pretty good breakfast with some instant mashed potatoes. I think this is a good arguement for bringing shrimp, cheese, hotdogs, and marshmellows along for bait rather than the more traditional and less palatable earthworms and rotten chicken livers.

Can you see the owl? Click image for a closer view.

We got on the water at about 8:30 and drifted to about 1:30. We never even had a nibble as far a fishing went but saw many owls, geese (with their little ones), deer, and water birds of all description. It isn't wilderness in the regulatory sense, but it is wild. I don't know if you can see the owls in the pictures. It would have been best to sneak up on them and take some really good pictures with better cameras, but you are floating along and suddenly see an owl pretending to be invisible (and doing a pretty good job of it.) and all you get is a snapshot. The larger barn owls, (possibly Great Horned - don't really know my owls) lived along a section of the river with taller, almost tree like brush in an area that had a lot of rabbits in it. The smaller snowy owls nested in hole in the clay cliffs. Yes, there is a owl brooding in that hole.

Yes, there is a owl brooding in that hole.

After lunch we realized that we had a long way to go, and started rowing. It was a long three hours until we got to the upper end of the reservoir, and then Murphy seemed determined to ensure that we had to row rather than sail. The river wound generally west, and we had to row with the wind on our nose for most of the way. It was great excercise, and we ended the day pretty sore, sunburned and full of memories to sustain us in our beige cubicles.