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Smoky Hill River (Read 15581 times)
03/10/07 at 21:35:39

Christina   Offline
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Hey, all.

I'm just in the beginning stages for planning a long kayak trip.  I'd like to start as far west as possible on the Smoky Hill River, join the Kaw, and then go on to Kaw Point.  I've heard through a grapevine that there is enough water from the Smoky Hill running into the Cedar Bluff Reservoir (which by the way looks like a really cool place), but unsure about what it looks like after.  And although I've never seen a few central Kansas areas of the Smoky Hill shallow, I'm just not familiar with it overall to know much more about it.

Anyway, has anyone had much experience on this river?  I figure I can start making some phone calls if need be, but if you have any info from a canoe/kayak point of view, I'd especially love to hear it.  I have no clue where a person would put in on this river either.

Thanks.   Smiley

Christina

 
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Reply #1 - 03/10/07 at 21:51:48
Scott   Ex Member

 
Well, here's the thing that might be a pain...

Kansas is weird in that there are only 3 rivers in the state that are fair game for paddlers.  The Kaw, the Arkansas and the Missouri.  All the rest are considered private property and you are "supposed" to have permission of landowners on BOTH sides of the river for the entire distance you travel.  But personally, I think this is a law just begging for a test case.... Rosa Parks style.  I say you do it and let the chips fall where they will.  We will back you up.  We'll bust you and your boat out of river jail if we have to.  When the guard comes in to give you your morning gruel, he'll just see an empty cell with a skull and cross paddles emblazoned on the wall.

What was the question?
 
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Reply #2 - 03/10/07 at 22:07:43

Christina   Offline
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Oh.  Hm.  But dang, it's water.  Is that for actually being on the water or is it mostly to discourage people from camping and tromping around on the land near by?  Can they shoot me??  I knew I should have gotten the camo Carolina.  And the add-on kayak rifle.

Let's get back to the shooting me question.   Huh  So, would my trip be considered trespassing?
 
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Reply #3 - 03/10/07 at 22:17:21
Scott   Ex Member

 
Well, I don't think they can legally shoot you.  But they might play a banjo in your general direction.

Yes, technically the landowners own the water too.  So landowner A owns it to the middle of the river and landowner B owns it from the middle over to his/her side.  It's silly.  And it's a Kansas silliness.  That's why you sometimes see bumper stickers that say, "De-criminalize canoeing in Kansas"

But, you have paddled the Wakarusa from Clinton Lake to Eudora.  Well, you were technically breaking the law there, as silly as that sounds....  Nobody shot at you, nobody arrested you.  But western Kansas is a different animal and people think about water differently out there.  But I am NOT trying to talk you out of it.  Seriously, you should look into doing it and if you get fined or something, I'm happy to chip in on that.  Civil disobedience.  Gives me goosebumps.  And if they don't like it we'll dump a bunch of tea in the Smoky for added symbolism.

I'm getting excited about this.  Can other people come?  I see a press conference in your future.
 
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Reply #4 - 03/10/07 at 22:26:58

West Hansen   Offline
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Greetings from the double black diamonds in Crested Butte!
Christina, you just let us know if anyone gives you any crap. They'll wake up with their bleeding transmission in the bed next to them.
In Texas, by law the water is considered to be a public thoroughfare, though the land and actual river bed can be considered private property. We can go anywhere that's falls under an algebraic equation that dictates what is a navigable waterway. We can also have access to the shoreline for a few feet up the bank and around barriers in the river. Plus, we just like picking fights on occasion and finding some flimsy principle to die for is just fine by us (read: the mission alamo in the middle of nowhere, 1836.)
Also, having worked way too long for the government, I've found it to be alot more productive to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. You go girl with your bad self. --West
 

Cognitive Dissonance: when being wrong just isn't an option.
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Reply #5 - 03/10/07 at 22:35:03

Christina   Offline
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Gotcha.  You know, I think I remember something about all this when I first started canoing.  I guess I forgot about it.  But you never know what people might do as you pass through. 

Hey, I'd be happy to have anyone come along!  Just let me know, people.  And we can pass out brownies to all the land owners.  Who could complain about that? Cool  And we'll have the tea as back up.  We could be called Smoky and The Bandits.   Roll Eyes

So, Scott, have you ever been on the Smoky Hill? 

 
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Reply #6 - 03/10/07 at 22:41:29
Scott   Ex Member

 
I was on it where the Smoky Hill and Republican come together to form the Kaw.  Paddled just a bit in that section where the Kaw is born.  But nothing like you're planning.  I can see 5 or 6 of us going to Junction City and heading up the Smoky.  We'll invite the press. 

I think you should name your boat Godiva.
 
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Reply #7 - 03/10/07 at 22:46:18

Christina   Offline
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West, wow, canoing up a mountain training!   Wink 

So, I think it's safe to say it should be all good as long as we're not being stupid and irresponsible, no bass pounding from our speakers after sunset, that sort of thing.  But in the black dead of night, a mysterious sound of wolf howls will be heard.
 
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Reply #8 - 03/10/07 at 22:57:09
Dan Grubbs   Ex Member

 
This is when a Kruger would be handy...sleep in the boat and no one can claim you tresspassed on "their land"  Grin
 
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Reply #9 - 03/10/07 at 23:06:56

Christina   Offline
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Scott, you should come on this trip in your kayak...no race concerns, just cheesy brats on sticks.   Cheesy

Exactly, Dan.  I've often imagined trying to sleep in my kayak.  I'd maybe have to do it backwards, legs and feet over the back of my back rest and over the top.  Might be bad for leg circulation.  Eh.  Or flat over the back.  No turning in the night.  By the way, I think we have the same kayaks.  Is yours a white/blue Carolina?
 
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Reply #10 - 03/10/07 at 23:51:19
Dan Grubbs   Ex Member

 
Hey...if you have the white and blue 14.5 then we have the same boat.  I love it.  Not sorry I didn't buy the 16 footer.  I know it would have been faster for the races, but I didn't buy it for racing, I bought it for tourning in the area.  Just today I was on the Platte River near KCI.  I'm very pleased with its performance and handling no matter how poorly the engine performs.  When I get all growed up and rich, maybe I'll think about one of them fancy schmancy kevlar layup boats pushing 18 feet.  But, for my first kayak, I'm very pleased with my Carolina.

I guess well have to hoist different flags on our boats during the races so people can tell us apart...okay, silly me, they can tell us apart because I'm the one with less hair!!!!!

Hope your trip is a blast.  Take a lot of photographs and share them with us.  We'll want a full trip report.

Cheers,
 
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Reply #11 - 03/11/07 at 03:56:38

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Ok not to rain on anyones parade (or cheesy brats and sticks) but you really should be careful of the land laws especially if there is no high water make law. I come from the world of fly fishing and in that world there is a very grimm reality, that being the privitization of our waterways. Here is my first hand knoweledge of the high watermark laws (don't ask why or how I know). The high water mark laws apply to rivers that were traditionally used for trade and transportation. if you can not prove in a court of law that the river once had a good deal of traffic by trader and merchants then you are in deep poo. Please for your own sake don't test this law many people have fought it and there are several supreme court cases waiting to be heard concerning these exact cases and it doesn't look good. Although I don't believe that people in that area are going to be so harsh you never know. Just a word to the wise as to my experiences and those struggles that man are still fighting now. My advice to you is to contact the local conservation agent and/or DNR agent and get their views on the issue if they tell you they would not ticket you due to the fact that people use this river for that purpose then by all means do it to it. Just be careful. I wish it wasn't so but there are men from all over this country who just wanted to go fishing and floted down in a canoe or kayak from a public launch or access and ended up paying hundreds some times thousands of dollars in fines because of the lack of high water mark backing in the courts.
Steve
 

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Reply #12 - 03/11/07 at 07:18:56

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Christina,

Here's the Mission statement of the Smokey Hill River Arts Festival, held for the past 30 years in Salina, KS.
Festival Mission:
To celebrate the arts and this community through a festival happening that is accessible to anyone – physically, psychologically, and economically.

Maybe even kayakers.

Salina in a progressive town, host to this festival on the river, a contemporary art musuem, and the Land Institute.  People forget that Kansas was founded by free-thinkers who went against the grain.  Somewhere along the line, the mainstream was hijacked by conservative hijinks, but you could also say that about the rest of America.

Yes, they follow the water rights of the old west in Kansas, but really the tricky part is getting on the water, which you will definitely want to do at a public park.  Were the land is public, you have the right to go in the stream. Once on the water, you can slyly just keep on, keep on, truckin' in you're so inclined.  

From an attitude informed by watching too much film noir, I've found that if you just waltz (or paddle) into places and act like you belong then you can frequently get past the sensors. At least for a while and then you can either play dumb or cop an attitude.  I opt for playing dumb first and the attitude second.  If they want you to leave, just mosy along the way unless you got a big posse to back you up.  This has gotten me into presidential press conferences, kept me from getting my guts stomped out while sipping a cold brew on a hot afternoon in a biker bar in Arkansas - while wearing cycling shorts,  ('Dang, YOu mean they make bikes that you don't have to pedal!" Crack a joke, they may even buy the next round; but please, never have more than two! I watch the scary movies as well.), and along with about 20 other canoeists past the level 3 security during the culminating lewis and clark event at the gateway arch.  

Some conversation starters if questioned by redneck ranchers. "Isn't it amazing that God put these 12,00 year-old-fossils in a 200 million-year-old piece of sandstone?"

"Are those Gelbveigh or Herefords? You know, my great-grandpa, who homesteaded near (insert name of local town here) raised cattle 'till the dang govment ran him off with too much regulation!"
 

However, truth is a reasonable substitute.
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Reply #13 - 03/11/07 at 17:46:55

Christina   Offline
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Woo hoo, Dan, we're twinkies.  I have the 14.5 also.  We're so cool.  I love mine as well. 

Ya know, it's sad that a simple paddle on a river has to be so complicated.  I'm going to figure this out, come hell or high water (high water preferable, but hell might be fun too).  And still, anyone who wants to make the trip with me is welcome.  If we have enough of us as a group, the small town jail won't hold us anyway.

So I guess the first things to figure out are just the logistics.  Mostly where to start.  Anyway, let me know if you all hear any big news about that.   Wink  In the meantime I'll see what I can dig up.

If all else fails, does anyone know where I can buy bulk face paint and a mini submarine?
 
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Reply #14 - 03/11/07 at 20:28:37

John Latecki Jr   Offline
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----Please for your own sake don't test this law many people have fought it and there are several supreme court cases waiting to be heard concerning these exact cases and it doesn't look good.----
Steve P, where can I learn more about these cases? I would like to help any way I can. I was unaware there were still waterways where you needed to ask permission to float. I understand not being able to camp on private property, but Kans-ass is the only state I ever heard of with laws like this. Can you tell me what the max punishment is for this violation? 
It would seem to me if the laws were pending in the Supreme Court that is a good thing. What would not look good is if the laws were being strictly enforced and the Supreme court was not involved. But hey if the Supreme court is involved it stands a chance of being changed.   

Christina, you go girl!
John
 
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Reply #15 - 03/12/07 at 09:10:49

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In general...there is a line that starts at Kansas where you transition into "western" water rights.  During the pioneer days...water was such an important issue...that the laws were written giving adjacent land owners absolute control over the water...they could irrigate or whatever...with all that ran through their land.  There are some interesting history books on this...that basically define water "Barons" and that this was the primary element in western development patterns and politics.  (I am a geek and tend to read history books after the kids are in bed...who would have figured?... when I was an uptight skate board, punk rocker in my younger days...never, say never Cool).  

The good news is that all of the water of the state of Missouri (and all states east) with more than 18 inches of flow are considered waters of the state up to the high water mark (dont ask how it is measured...this is still a contentious issue and has not been resolved in court...and I would not want it to go foward in today's political climate...let sleeping dogs lay).  

Kansas is "western water rights"...the only rivers they have allowed to become "waters of the state" are basically the Missouri, the Kaw and the Arkansas....much of this has to do with water quality and fears that if the waters are "public" ...they will have to make efforts to clean up said river...Kansas does not have stellar surface water quality....this is the political driver...not some kayaker...but that if public use is shown...then the waters (by federal law) have to be safe for "whole body contact".

So the land owner may get very serious if they catch you...cause they certainly do not want any "tree hugger environmental rules and regulations" telling them what they can do with "their water" Huh

Here is a link with history on this...scroll down 3-4 pages for part 3 of history section

http://www.tfsksu.net/~tjhittle/kcamembe.html

If you paddle on kansas streams...you could meet with the county law before its all over....one would have to be very much on the low down....which creates paranoa and ruins the whole vibe of a relaxed float.

Even in missouri...if a land owner gets upset...dont argue the law (" hey man, I am within the highwater mark")...wont help...it is often better to be complacent and move on...unless you are looking to test the case in a court of law...and have a team of lawyers, etc....remember that local law is local...and the prosecuting attorney likely deer hunts with the guy who yelled at you...and you are "from the city"...fair, no...but the reality.

I personally dont like being told what to do (skate board, punk rocker left overs Roll Eyes)...and they sell cans of camo spray paint...a camo perception carolina would look cool...ok perhaps not cool...but the duck hunters would think you were cool.

Bryan
 

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Reply #16 - 03/12/07 at 17:20:48

Christina   Offline
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Ok, just got off the phone with my grandpa who lives in western Kansas and was until recently a reserve sheriff there.  He said that he personally hasn't heard of a problem out there with any kayakers/canoers in the streams or rivers.  He also said, "You know, we don't get many people kayaking out here."   Wink  He said that he could imagine someone being a "sore head", though not knowing why they would--figured the worst that might happen is someone tells you to keep moving.  He even added that he wonders how many landowners are actually aware of such laws.

Apparently a known pastime on the Arkansas River (when it's running well enough) is "tankin'".  This involves floating a stock tank down the river.  Hello!  Now that sounds fun.  And grandpa said that he never heard any harm come from that either.  I'd swim in the occasional stock tank growing up, so this tankin sounds like the best of both worlds, really.  Fury of the Nile, hillbilly style.   Cool

The last of the advice I got was to get on somewhere near Scott City since west of there the water isn't always available.  "You could about drink up what's in the few rivers around here" was mentioned.   Cheesy  My uncle works for KDOT in Garden City, and I think he has some contacts out that way.  I'll see what I can find out about expected water levels and such.

Brian, thanks for the history lesson!  I think it's way cool.  Fiction is for wusses.  They can't handle the truth.  (I don't know what I'm talking about, but it sounds good.)
 
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Reply #17 - 03/13/07 at 03:34:18

SteveP   Offline
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John I can't remember where the info for the cases are I will try to find it in the next couple days but I know that there are several rivers in PA, MD, ME (maine I think) and a couple other eastern states that even the state lands have been bought out by fly-fishing clubs and they control every thing because most of the people who can afford to belong to the clubs are fancy pants lawyers anyhow. I have even heard of some western classic waters that are being leased and bought out in the same way i.e. Montana Wyoming. So be on the look otu there these people wanna make a sport I love something of the past for those of us who work for a living.

I was going to mention as weel that I am not so sure that you would want to take Scott for his own sake. I had the pleasure of meeting him the other day and from the redneck rancher side of things I must say he does have a pretty mouth (j/k).

Honestly no I don't think you would have any problems but it just that small chance of ending up cuffed and stuffed that would not make for good times.

 

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Reply #18 - 03/13/07 at 10:17:45
Scott   Ex Member

 
Aw, I'm pretty scrappy for an old guy... when my virtue is at stake.
 
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Reply #19 - 03/16/07 at 00:43:51

SteveP   Offline
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Sorry Scott I couldn't resist, you understand I'm sure. Grin

As far as the links to the court cases go I am still digging and hope to have some thing for you soon John I will pm the links to you so I don't hijack Christina's post
 

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