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
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.