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Float #157 & #158: Buffalo River

26 Apr

Boxley to Kyles Landing to Pruitt

F157_Buffalo

Buffalo River
Newton County, Arkansas
Friday, March 30 – Saturday, March 31, 2018
30 Miles
Temperature: Friday 60˚/39˚, Saturday 70˚/42˚
Wind: Friday NW at 7mph, Saturday S at 8mph
Water Level: Friday 5.5, Saturday 4.5 at Ponca gage

It’s the best float trip of the year! Our annual Easter float trip to Arkansas. This year we did the Buffalo and we had really good water levels for our trip. We were joined by our brother-in-law Henry and our friend Richard. We drove down on Thursday evening to Kyle’s Landing campground. It rained all the way there, but stopped as soon as we pulled up to camp. The rain held off for the rest of our stay until Saturday night/Sunday morning. So we got great water runoff from the rain without having to paddle through any rain ourselves! This time we left Ocoee (our dog) at home. He hates Arkansas because it has splashy water (small rapids). He’s not a whitewater fan AT ALL!

Friday morning the water was moving so good that we puttered around camp in the morning and put in at Boxley bridge around noon, knowing the 16 miles down to Kyle’s Landing would go by quickly.

Buffalo River

Boxley bridge access

Buffalo River

DW warms up the Gnar Bar at Boxley

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Rescuing the Gnar Bar after DW’s flip

Boxley to Ponca is a challenging section of river and not for the inexperienced. If there is enough water to run it, you can be sure there are Class 2+ or Class 3 rapids that range from rolling waves to tight, technical turns. Our friend Richard was a bit out of practice for this level of paddling, so we spent a good amount of time pulling him out of the river! Henry took our Dagger whitewater boat. He seemed to have a great time with it and only flipped a couple times. DW actually flipped the canoe for the second time ever in his long history of paddling. There is one really tight S-turn with a tree, a boulder, a rock wall, and another tree that was super technical. I’m surprised I made it through without flipping myself. The canoe was just a little too long for DW to think that fast and make it through cleanly. He didn’t lose any gear though!

Buffalo River

Waterfalls

Buffalo River

More waterfalls

Buffalo River

Ponca bridge at 0″ airspace

We made it to Ponca bridge (6 miles down) without much more incident. Richard opted to stay at Ponca and wait for us to finish, as he was dead tired at that point. Flipping the boat a lot is very fatiguing! It’s always good to know your limits so you don’t get into a bad situation.

From Ponca we carried on to Kyle’s Landing without much incident. With all the rain in the previous days the waterfalls were everywhere! That’s not something you see too often on the Buffalo and especially not when the sun is shining.

Buffalo River

We got to Kyle’s Landing in the late afternoon and spent time relaxing and stuffing our faces after a hard day of burning calories. The next day we put in at the campground and paddled down to Pruitt.

Buffalo RiverBuffalo River

Henry swims

Buffalo River

Pruitt bridge

The second day of our trip Henry took his touring kayak instead of the whitewater boat and only flipped it a couple times! I was the only person in our group who didn’t flip at all (I’m badass like that, lol)! The section from Kyle’s to Pruitt isn’t as scenic as from Ponca down, so I didn’t take as many photos. The day was warm, but ended up being overcast with some chilly winds by the time we finished up. Saturday night the boys had fun stomping around the trails. Unfortunately I came down with a nasty stomach flu after we got off the river. Puking in camp is NOT FUN! It rained a bit Saturday night and started up with the precipitation again as we packed up and pulled out of camp. I was so glad the rain held off while we were on the river! It was another great trip to Arkansas.

 

 

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Float #156: Courtois Creek

26 Apr

Berryman to Huzzah Conservation Area

F142_Courtois

Courtois Creek
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, March 3, 2018
15 Miles
Temperature: 61˚/33˚
Wind: SE at 11mph
Water Level: 3.6 at Huzzah gage

It’s time for 2018 floating season, and I am already well behind on writing blog posts! Our first trip of the year was on March 3rd. We had some good rain earlier in the week and planned on doing Big Creek, but the water level dropped too much by the time the weekend hit. So we went to the Courtois instead. This was DW’s first real paddle trip since his shoulder surgery in fall of 2017. He did well, but was pretty tired by the time we were done! Our brother-in-law Henry came along with us on this one. The weather was pretty nice for early March and was one of the few days this spring with warm temps and sunshine.

Courtois Creek

Encountering a tree portage

Courtois Creek

DW and Ocoee

Courtois Creek

Clear water of the Courtois

We started our trip at Berryman access. Henry took his new kayak that he bought for his wife (my sister Emily). The new kayak has a bit of a keel, so it was hard to maneuver on the twisty Courtois, but Henry managed it alright. Except for the part where he dumped his new phone in the creek. Always tether your valuables to your boat or your person!

We encountered a few portages where a tree had fallen across the creek and was impossible to paddle under or around. But those were in the uppermost few miles and most of the creek was easily navigable. We had a decent water level too and didn’t have any low areas to scrape our boats on.

Courtois Creek

Courtois Creek

Juvenile Bald Eagle

We saw a fair amount of wildlife on this trip including one adult Bald Eagle and two juveniles. Henry raced a beaver in his boat (the beaver won). And we saw some deer, in addition to the usual array of birds and turtles.

Courtois Creek

It was a nice start to the paddle season. The cold, rainy weather and our busy schedules made it hard to get much water time in this spring. Our next trip was the annual Easter float in Arkansas, which was a lot of fun!

Critter Count: Turtles, Kingfishers, Herons, 3 Bald Eagles, Deer, Turkey, 1 Beaver