Monday, 22 May 2017

44th Annual Winter Float Trip

44th Annual Winter Float Trip

It All Started with 16 Crazy Guys and 8 Canoes

As told by original member: Chuck Gilbert

On Saturday, January 20th, 1974, 16 crazy guys from St. Louis decided after closing up Burnham’s Opera House to go on a Winter Float Trip (WFT).

We called up Bob Bass (actually woke him up) and told him we’d be down on Sunday morning to float on the Meramec River and to be ready for us with eight canoes.

We called up Bob Bass (actually woke him up) and told him we’d be down on Sunday morning to float on the Meramec River

From this humble start we have put together 44 winter float trips that have seen everything from a high of 10º with a foot of snow on the ground to this year’s high in the low 80s and everything in between.

On Saturday, February 20th, 52 intrepid souls braved 81º sunny weather on a perfect day to float the Courtois River for the 44th Annual WFT. The Bass' River Resort team took excellent care of this group and served up fabulous fare for both breakfast and dinner.

We started the celebration on Friday night the 18th by saying high to old friends and getting to know some new ones. The bonfire blazed brightly, aerial bombs were set off, cigars were lit, beer and whiskey flowed and the stories, legends, and outright lies started to be told and retold.

On Saturday, the troops rallied and most answered the breakfast bell, stoked the furnaces and got ready for the pick up by the big yellow bus. Once we were delivered safely to our put in on the river, we gathered our gear and claimed our watercraft. Like all flotillas, there were a few launching problems but soon everyone was on the river.

During the float some of the crew took some extra long swigs of grog and made them less than reliable crew members...

Tradition dictates that we stop early and often to caress each worthy gravel bar with our presence and to let the libations flow along with (of course) additional stories, lies and jokes. Around 2PM the official WFT high temperature was announced (81.6º) along with the official river temp (56.6º). Of course everyone was astounded by the summer like temps and the deep blue sky.

During the float some of the crew took some extra long swigs of grog and made them less than reliable crew members and of course some got a little waterlogged in the chilly waters. Towards the end of the day, some rain moved in followed by a thunderstorm and believe it or not, a pea sized hail storm moved through our camp site.

Fortunately, most floaters were off the river and under cover. Everyone took comfort in the wonderful vitals that Stephan & Julie served up. Even Trent Bass lent his hand on making sure our crew we’re well fed.

Nate Gilbert made sure that the shooting range was safely manned. It’s estimated that the shooting crowd burned through over $2,000 in ammo. No animals or humans were hurt or killed in this event. Nate will attempt to organize an actual contest with a real trophy to be given to the “Best Shot”.

New stories, lies and legends were born on this float and everyone is looking forward to being on the 45th WFT scheduled for February 17, 18 & 19 in 2017.

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