Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Buffalo River, AR pics

Buffalo River, Arkansas weekender

Greetings Sports Fans! I'm backkkkkkkkkk.

The Buffalo River in Arkansas runs 135 miles, West to East and winds up dumping into the White River.

This weekend, my gal Kat-tostrophe, OKIE and Clint headed out for a 2-day adventure on the blue CL I-II Buffalo river with no expectations except to have a great time in the good ol outdoors. And that, my friends, we did!

No Bell Yellowstone Solo canoe this time. Kat and I shared an Old Town Discover, I believe. It was a rental and did the trick. We had her loaded down with gear, food and of course beer.

Kat and I drove from Tulsa, OK to a campground on the West end of the river- Steel Creek campground, near the convergence of Highways 74 and 43. We arrived around midnight and got a chance to shake the hell out of Okies tent. He and Clint woke up, we caught up over some beers and watched an amazing show of stars. The stars were out in groves. It was a nice night and it remained clear for stargazing. The campground was full with people dreaming of tomorrows canoe trip.

I picked up a newly designed MSR Hubba Hubba and we have used it on several occasions and I still love it.

The guy who owned the canoe rental place tried to talk us out of going given the high water levels and "scary CL IV's". He prodded for our level of experience and seemed to be satisfied with the 1000+ miles I have paddled and the fact that I guided canoe trips up in Minnesota's Boundary Waters. We loaded the canoes and set off on an adventure of a weekend.

By the way, there were plenty of CL II sets and a couple CL II-III's that made life interesting. Many of the folks we passed were off to the side bailing water or rolling their canoes, ridding them of that nasty water that fills your canoe once you get all caddywhampus and dump. We did not, however, ever dump or take on more than 10-20 gallons of water.

The water was a chalky greyish blue. It was clear and reminded me of the color of the lakes above 12,000 feet in California's High Sierras. It was beautiful and I have never paddled in anything so beautiful. I wouldn't drink the water, without purification like I would in Northern Maine or Northern Minnesota but it was beautiful and COLD nonetheless.

By the way, the Buffalo River is one of the fewest undammed rivers left in the lower 48 for its length. So its' water level is tied to the rainfall, or lack thereof.

The river was engorged by steep rock cliffs that must have exceeded 500 feet. They were tall and you strained your neck looking towards their tops hoping to catch glimpses of mountain goats. We never saw them. But a beaver did watch and swim around our campsite Saturday night. I told Kat we would see a beaver before the weekend was over.

We camped Saturday about halfway of our 20 mile itinerary, just past Kyles Landing. The campsite was primo and we found great tenting areas and had a wonderfully red sunset shining on the steep rock face that was opposite us. What a great nights sleep! For dinner we enjoyed steak- both filets and strips, with baked potatoes, beans and beer and chips and trail mix and beer. It was just what we needed after drinking beers all day. We finished the night out with a great, warm campfire and shared stories and generally enjoyed each others company.

The next morning we hit the water late, like around noon and spent the afternoon finishing up the paddle. Okie and Clint nearly lost it in one of those CL II-III's but kept it going enough until they could reach the banks of the river. Okie borrowed my cooking pot to bail out the water in his canoe. Those were fun pictures to take.

One of the spectacular features of this river are the plentiful, leveled and layered waterfalls that eventually dumped into the river. We stopped at many of them. We wished we could have stopped at all of them.

All in all, it was a great feeling to get back on the water. Even better to be on water that moves and has some choppiness to it. I am definitely going back to finish the entire river. In fact, Kat and I will do a 4-day weekend there around May 15-19. This means that I wont make AT Trail Days but will be there in Spirit.

Many of my friends are out on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trails. Best of luck to all of them!

Happy Trails,
Totally Different Subject,
Jason Bivin