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Float #144: Mulberry River

24 May

Wolf Pen to Turner Bend

F121_Mulberry

Mulberry River
Franklin County, Arkansas
Friday, April 14, 2017
16 Miles
Temperature: 83˚/60˚
Wind: SSE at 6mph
Water Level: 2.1ft. at Mulberry gage

Every Easter weekend DW and I go floating in Arkansas. We usually alternate between the Buffalo and Mulberry Rivers. This year was the Mulberry’s turn. The Buffalo certainly has the breathtaking scenery and bluffs, but the Mulberry is generally more exciting paddling. This year we were again joined by our friend Jake. He rocked the 7-hour one way drive from Nashville solo. The Mulberry is worth it! We stayed at Byrd’s campground, which has good camping right on the river and an excellent restaurant on-site. It’s nice to not have to cook after a long day of paddling!

We all arrived late Thursday night, set up camp and went to bed pretty promptly. The next morning we awoke early, made breakfast and headed up to our put-in at Wolf Pen.

Mulberry River

Prepping the boats at Wolf Pen

Mulberry RiverMulberry River

I took my Dagger touring kayak on this trip and DW brought both the whitewater kayaks as well as one of our Old Town canoes. This river is great because unless the water is high, it is suitable for almost any human-powered watercraft.

The first day DW and Jake took the whitewater kayaks while I took my touring kayak. We brought Ocoee (our dog) on this trip as I figured the weather would be nice and he could ride on the back of my kayak the first day. I even bought him a snazzy little life jacket as I knew he’d probably fall off in a couple rapids. The rapids on this river aren’t that big, class II at most during normal water levels, and Ocoee rides on the back of my kayak just fine on most of our Missouri streams. This day though, he was not having it. This dog HATES rapids. The very first rapid we encountered he bailed off my boat and refused to get back on. I ended up having to shove him into my cockpit, which is not comfortable for me, as he just barely fits and tries to climb up me every time there is splashy water.

Mulberry RiverMulberry River

Mulberry River

Ocoee stuck in Jump Start rapid

There is an infamous rapid just down from High Bank access called Jump Start. It is where the river flows straight into a rock wall and then makes a 90˚ turn. Last time we floated the Mulberry I was in a whitewater boat and did my first wet exit (where the boat flips upside down and you have to exit, roll over, or drown). So this time, even though I was in my trusty touring kayak, I was determined not to hit that wall again. What makes it doubly tricky is several small boulders and a lot of sleeper rocks as you approach the rock wall. I got hung up on one of the boulders and had to lean into it in order to not flip my boat. Ocoee was not making it easier. I knew I had to get rid of that extra weight to push myself off the boulder, so I threw Ocoee out of the boat into the water, which was all of about 4″ deep. I managed to dislodge my kayak and make the turn without hitting the wall. Ocoee decided he was stuck there in the middle of the river where I threw him out. He wouldn’t come to us and wouldn’t move. There was a couple on the gravel bar watching the action (who wouldn’t, it’s a great spot to watch people eat it). The guy offered to fetch Ocoee out of the stream. As he approached Ocoee decided swimming was a better idea than being grabbed by a stranger. He swam through just fine and continued to be a pain in my ass for the rest of the morning.

We stopped for lunch at our campsite at Byrd’s, which is halfway through the trip to Turner Bend. Neither I nor Ocoee was keen on him continuing the second half of the day in my boat. So I left him at camp, where he slept and chewed his bed in contentment while we continued on without all the doggy drama.

Mulberry River

Rapids

Mulberry River

Jake shreds some gnar

The rest of the day was spent shredding some good gnar on the beautiful turquoise water. We finished up at Turner Bend in the late afternoon and headed back to camp to eat an awesome meal at the campground restaurant and drink some beers around the campfire. No one flipped their boat on the first day!

Float #133 – 135: Buffalo River

8 Apr

Ponca to Hasty

F133_Buffalo

Buffalo River
Newton County, Arkansas
Friday, March 25 – Sunday, March 27
31 Miles

Our annual Easter weekend float trip this year was to the Buffalo River in Arkansas. We try to get to the Buffalo every spring and due to water levels and weather it is a completely different trip every time. This year was perfect! The water level was high enough to cover all the rocks we usually scrape our boats on and the weather was mild with no rain. If you recall last year’s trip, there was a lot of rain and high water, which made for a bit of a white-knuckle experience.

We left our house Thursday afternoon and arrived in Jasper, AR late that evening. We crashed in one of the tiny motels that night and woke up to a bright and crisp morning. Our friend Jake from Nashville met up with us and we all walked over to the Ozark Cafe for an excellent breakfast before running Jake’s van down to the takeout and purchasing a car shuttle for our vehicle from Buffalo River Canoe. We then drove up to Ponca and unloaded all our gear and reorganized everything into our boats. Jake and I paddled our trusty Liquid Logic and Dagger kayaks, while DW and our dog Ocoee manned our Old Town canoe. We pushed off around 11am for a fantastic day on the water.

Buffalo River

Jake is ready to get this trip started

Buffalo River

DW and Ocoee

Buffalo River

Looking out at the river from the mouth of a cave

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

The section between Ponca and Steel Creek has some nice, choppy runs that made for splashy fun at this water level. DW and I couldn’t help but think back to last year’s trip when these fun little splashes were huge, rolling waves. We saw a cave opening in a bluff and pulled over to stick our heads in the entrance. It was a peaceful spot with a nice view of the river from the mouth of the cave.

Buffalo River

DW steers through the ripples at Steel Creek

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

The next section of river between Steel Creek and Kyle’s Landing is one of the most popular on the Buffalo. There are many tall bluffs and beautiful scenery around every bend. At the Steel Creek access there is a small shelf rapid that can be kind of tricky for inexperienced paddlers. Jake and I made it through fine, and then we watched DW maneuver the canoe through. Of course he made it look easy!

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Jim’s Bluff

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Hemmed In Hollow Falls

Just after Jim’s Bluff there is a hiking trail that leads to Hemmed In Hollow where there is a 225 ft. waterfall (the tallest between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains). The hike is short and not difficult, so it is well worth the stop. It is best to catch the waterfall within a couple days of rainfall, otherwise it is just a drip. We were lucky enough to be there at the right time and there was a nice flow. Every other time I’ve been it was too dry.

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Our campsite Friday night

A few hours after our stop at Hemmed In Hollow we started looking for a campsite. We found a nice one with a big gravel bar across from a large bluff. The gravel bars on the Buffalo tend to have larger stones than gravel bars on Missouri Ozark streams. Thus, we set up our tents at the edge of the forest where there is nice soft soil to sleep on. However, being in the woods means there are more nocturnal creatures roaming around at night, sniffing at your tent! DW and I woke up several times that night to the sound of some four footed beasts rustling around. One instance they were very close and DW had to yell at them to “go on, git” and they stomped off. Ocoee did not prove to be much of a guard dog. He was silent the entire time and soon snuggled up with us. I guess he knew they were bigger than him! In the morning we noticed lots of tracks and spots where the ground had been rooted up, so at least some of those noises we heard were razorback hogs. Exciting (eek)!

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

A small waterfall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

The second day of our trip was just as sunny and beautiful as the first. We set out at a leisurely pace, our goal being to stop for the night just past Pruitt access. There wasn’t much to report from the second day other than beautiful, clear water and nice scenery. As it neared evening we started looking for a campsite. Most of the good gravel bars were already occupied, as is usually the case. We finally found a rough looking gravel bar that had plenty of firewood and there was room for our tents in the woods. Luckily there were no piggy visitors this time.

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

The bridge at Pruitt

After a peaceful night, we woke up to a chilly, but sunny morning. We knew there was a chance of rain that day and the clouds soon began to roll in. However, we were spared getting wet as the rain held off while we were on the river. We had about 5 or 6 miles to our takeout at Hasty access. A couple miles above Hasty the Little Buffalo confluences with the river. The Little Buffalo is a nice sized creek that can be paddled when there is enough water flowing. Just past the creek we saw a razorback hog carcass on a gravel bar. That’s definitely something I haven’t seen before! It must have died recently because it was still mostly intact and the buzzards and other scavengers hadn’t gotten to it yet.

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

The Little Buffalo flows into the river

We pulled up to Hasty sometime between noon and one, loaded all our gear back into our vehicles and started the four hour drive toward home. This was probably our best Buffalo River trip yet and I am already looking forward to next year!

Critter Count: Hawks, Ducks, Turtles, Razorback Hogs

Bonus Prize: A Spyderco pocket knife

Float #130: Lady Bird Lake

9 Nov

Lady Bird Lake

F130_LadyBirdLake

Lady Bird Lake
Austin, Texas
Wednesday, October 14
6 Miles

Last month we went down to Texas for a caving event and spent a short 24 hours in Austin. While we were there we made sure to get out on the water. We rented a tandem sit-on-top from one of the waterfront outfitters and paddled Lady Bird Lake along through downtown to the lower dam and back. It was a nice paddle on a bright, warm day. We thought about renting SUP’s, but they were pretty pricey and the two of us could rent one tandem for less than the cost of one SUP! DW and I have never been in a tandem kayak before and I doubt we will make a habit of it. We much prefer to paddle separately!

Lady Bird LakeLady Bird LakeLady Bird LakeLady Bird LakeThe waterfront seems like an area that gets a lot of use from Austin residents. There is a nice walking/biking path all along the lake and several pedestrian bridges across. We saw several people fishing along the bank or in kayaks as well as many people using the trails. There were a couple of access points where people let their dogs swim and play. It was fun to watch the pooches having such a good time! There was one area of the lake that was thick with aquatic weeds that spanned the width of the lake, but it was only a few yards long, and not too difficult to paddle through.

Lady Bird Lake

Congress Bridge

Congress Bridge

The boardwalk

The boardwalk

The dam

The dam

We saw great views of downtown Austin from the lake. The south side of the lake has a bunch of (I presume) expensive condos that look across the lake to downtown. Many of these condos had boat storage along the boardwalk and it looks like the perfect living area for the urban kayaker. We paddled under Congress Bridge, which is home to one of the largest urban bat colonies in the US. We didn’t see any bats (as it was midday), but we sure could smell them! As we approached our turnaround point we circumnavigated a small island and then paddled up near the dam and then turned around to head back to the outfitter’s dock.

Lady Bird LakeLady Bird Lake

Bridge art

Bridge art

Our way back was filled with more excellent views of downtown and a surprise piece of artwork under the bridge! We spent about 3 hours on the water and it was a good bit of exercise and an enjoyable morning. Afterward, we went into the city and ate some tacos before heading out to our caving event.

Critter Count: Turtles, Herons, Egrets, Pigeons, Dogs

Float #122: Mulberry River

24 Apr

Turner Bend to Spirit Creek

F122_Mulberry

Mulberry River
Newton County, Arkansas
Saturday, April 4
14 Miles

Saturday morning we awoke to beautiful, sunny weather for another day on the Mulberry. For our second day of floating I paddled Jake’s touring kayak, DW took my whitewater boat and Jake took DW’s whitewater boat. Since my boat had worn me out so much the first day I decided to take the easier boat for the morning. We headed down to Turner Bend to put in where we had taken out the day before. I hung out with the gear while Jake and DW ran shuttle down to Spirit Creek access. Spirit Creek is a 4WD access with space for about two cars to park by the river. Turns out you really do need 4WD and some ground clearance to make it all the way to the river. Jake’s van didn’t make it all the way down, but he was able to turn around and wait for DW to drop our Subaru at the access. There is a much better access at Campbell Cemetery, which is four miles above Spirit Creek. However, if you take out at Campbell you will miss Hell Roaring Falls, which is a nice little drop that can produce a big wave if the water is up.

The bridge at Turner Bend

The bridge at Turner Bend

Mulberry River

DW paddles through some

DW paddles through some gnar

Mulberry RiverBelow Turner Bend the river has more long pools interspersed with big drops. We didn’t see too many other people on this stretch because most people who rent do the upper section of the Mulberry. We did come across some locals who were doing their annual spring float. They talked to us for a while and gave us the scoop on all the rapids ahead of us. We also talked about the best season for floating the Mulberry, which of course is spring. They said the water is usually plentiful from October to May, so winter floats are also an option.

Stopping for lunch on a rock

Stopping for lunch on a rock

Mulberry RiverMulberry RiverMulberry RiverWe stopped for a quick lunch on a large, flat rock just below a good rapid. We finally saw a bit of wildlife on the river now that the sun was out. There were several turtles sunning themselves, and the usual assortment of birds. Shortly after lunch we pulled over and switched boats. I tried out DW’s boat while Jake took his touring kayak again. The Dagger whitewater boat is a little easier to paddle in a straight line, but I didn’t think it was quite as comfortable to sit in. It is a sort of retro design, with no bells or whistles on the seating and the thigh braces are very tight. However, I went through several rapids in it and didn’t flip over, so that’s something. Jake took my camera and got some nice shots of us paddling through. It’s nice to be in front of the camera sometimes instead of always behind it!

It's ME!

It’s ME!

DW shreds it

DW shreds it

Me, DW and Jake at camp

Me, DW and Jake at camp

After passing the Campbell Cemetery access we kept our eyes peeled for Hell Roaring Falls. It is a rock shelf across the river with about a 3 ft. drop. It looks like it could really rock if the water is up a little! We made it over without incident, but got fairly well splashed in the process. Eventually we came to our take-out around 4pm. We spent a little while relaxing and having a beer by the river. Paddling in rapids is hard work! After loading up our boats we made the trek back up the 4WD access road, over rocks and through one pretty big mud puddle. Back at camp we settled in to burn all the firewood we had left and eat a satisfying meal of spaghetti. It was a great weekend and we had a good time on the river. We will definitely be going back to Arkansas next spring!

Critter Count: Turtles, Hawks, Kingfishers

Float #121: Mulberry River

23 Apr

Wolf Pen to Turner Bend

F121_Mulberry

Mulberry River
Newton County, Arkansas
Friday, April 3
16 Miles

Our Easter float trip this year took us back to Arkansas, this time on the Mulberry River. The Mulberry is about an hour south of the Buffalo River and well worth a visit. It doesn’t have the high bluffs that the Buffalo is famous for, but it has the same beautiful turquoise blue water, Ozark Mountain scenery, and many more rapids. The Mulberry is rain dependent, so the best time to float it is in the spring. It is smaller than the Buffalo, but can rise and fall rapidly depending on the precipitation amount. This is a good river if you like a little excitement and is suitable for an intermediate paddler. If you are a beginner you probably want to hone your skills some before tackling the rocky rapids of the Mulberry. You can float it in a whitewater boat or in a small touring kayak. The upper section has more rapids with few slow pools between them, and the lower section has larger drops between longer pools. None of the rapids on the Mulberry are larger than Class II during normal flow.

DW and I took our whitewater kayaks on this trip. Our friend Jake made the 7-hour trek from Nashville to join us and he brought his 13′ touring kayak. We camped at Byrd’s Adventure Center, where we had a nice camp spot with a pavilion right on the river. There are a couple other commercial campgrounds and a few national forest campgrounds along the river as well.

We were supposed to get a thunderstorm Thursday night, but that never happened. We awoke to cloudy skies on Friday morning, loaded all our gear, donned our wetsuits (cause this water is cold!), dropped a vehicle down at Turner Bend, and headed then up to Wolf Pen access.

Putting in at Wolf Pen

Putting in at Wolf Pen

Mulberry RiverMulberry River

This was my first time ever in a whitewater kayak, so I paddled around a bit in the slow pool at the put-in. Hoo-boy is a whitewater kayak different than a touring boat! Every little move you make causes the boat to react. A touring boat is designed to go forward in a straight line with little effort. A whitewater kayak is designed to spin around in a circle with little effort. I found myself fighting with the boat to try and hit the correct line in the swift water. Obviously I have a lot of learning to do before I feel like I’m competent in a whitewater kayak! DW’s whitewater kayak is a different design and much longer and narrower, so it goes straight a little bit easier than mine.

Mulberry RiverMulberry RiverOf course, I don’t have any photos of the rapids because I was too busy trying to get through them to take a picture. We all made it through most of the rapids without incident until we came upon one called Jump Off Rapid. Jump Off Rapid starts off with a boulder garden that then careens straight into a rock wall. That rock wall is where I bit it. While trying to avoid crashing into the wall I flipped over and was underwater for about 4 seconds. 4 seconds is a long time when you are submerged. Whitewater kayaks are very tight and you don’t fall out of the boat right away like you do in a touring kayak. This was my first time upside down, under water. I remember several thoughts going through my head. The first being, “Well, I’m underwater. Hopefully I don’t drown.” Then I wondered why DW hadn’t flipped me back over yet. Then my brain finally wised up and I pulled my kayak skirt off the cockpit and kicked my legs out of the boat. So I experienced what is known as the “wet-exit” which is a good thing to know when you’re in a whitewater boat!

After my little mishap I was pretty tired. It turns out my whitewater kayak might be too heavy for me and it wears me out fairly quickly. Luckily our campground was exactly half way into our trip. We stopped there for lunch and I decided I was too tired to continue the rest of the trip safely. I let Jake take my whitewater boat so he could experience the wet-exit. And he did, twice.

Jake's first flip

Jake’s first flip

Rescue trainees flip a raft

Rescue trainees flip a raft

Mulberry River

Fixer Upper Cabin

Fixer Upper Cabin

DW takes over narration of the second half of this trip, as I was recovering in camp.

After completing a pit stop at camp for food and adult beverages, we left to complete the second half of our trip down the Mulberry. Jake took Lee’s whitewater kayak and promptly took a swim on an eddy line just after a rapid. This left him a bit rattled given he was on a gravel bar just a few hundred yards from camp. He got the water drained from the boat and regained his nerve thus deciding to complete the trip down the river. It had several rapids that were fun to play in and even more shoals as we worked our way down stream to the low water bridge. We opted for going to river right approaching the bridge. Shortly thereafter there was an old house that is on the river and has just been disintegrating for many years.

Mulberry River

Jake's second flip

Jake’s second flip

Mulberry RiverMulberry River

Almost to the end of our trip, we approached Scroiliac Rapid and both made it through, then out of nowhere Jake is swimming again. The easy maneuverability and large rocker of Lee’s boat caught him off guard on another eddy line allowing for another nice April swim! From here we continued on 1.5 miles to Turner’s Bend to complete our day of adventure on the beautiful Mulberry River. We loaded up our gear and headed back to camp where Lee had a nice fire going. We hit the hay pretty early so we could get enough rest to get up and do it again the next day!

Float #120: Buffalo River

26 Mar

Boxley to Kyle’s Landing

F120_Buffalo

Buffalo River
Newton County, Arkansas
Saturday, March 14
16 Miles

After hanging in camp during the all day rain on Friday, we awoke Saturday determined to paddle. The rain had slowed to an occasional sprinkle. The river was now a muddy brown and had risen to just below the banks. We left camp shortly after breakfast to scout Boxley access, get our car shuttle set up, and purchase some dry firewood. Everything looked good, the water was rocking, but didn’t look too dangerous and we talked to a couple other paddlers getting ready to put in at Boxley. We purchased a car shuttle from Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca and headed back to camp to gear up.

We donned our wetsuits (our best purchase this year) and the rest of our water resistant gear, packed a couple beers and headed back to Boxley. There were plenty of rolling waves on the first 6-mile section between Boxley and Ponca and the water was moving quickly. Within the first mile or so we came upon the people we had seen putting in while we were scouting. One of them had lost their boat and was stranded on a small island in the middle of the river. Their paddling companion was just downstream with the runaway boat, so DW towed her down to them. We figured they must have been waiting for someone to come by for a while!

High water at Boxley bridge

High water at Boxley bridge

Buffalo RiverBuffalo River

Waterfall

Waterfalls

The water was a  bit technical and reminded me a lot of the Nantahala in Tennessee. Of course, there is no time to snap photos while paddling the waves, so I was only able to get shots of the calm waters between rapids. Some of the waves were pretty big and one of them went over my head and soaked me completely. Thank goodness I had that wetsuit! My touring paddle was nearly useless for water this fast. It felt like I was just sticking a toothpick in the waves and couldn’t steer as well as I needed to. DW had brought his whitewater paddle and let me use it. What a difference that made! I’m going to make sure I bring my whitewater paddle along for any spring floats from now on.

Ponca bridge

Ponca bridge

Buffalo RiverBuffalo RiverWe soon arrived at Ponca bridge, which we had to portage as the water was not over the bridge, but it was pretty close. There were a lot of people there checking out the river and a few paddlers thinking about putting on. After Ponca bridge the river was much calmer and the few waves we paddled through were not too big. Two miles down from Ponca is Steel Creek campground, so we stopped at our camp to have lunch and warm up a bit. I debated staying at camp because I was a little chilly and tired from the rough water, but the sun poked out of the sky just enough to convince me to continue the rest of the trip. As we put back on the water we encountered some locals who were enjoying the whitewater. They shared some whiskey with us and some good conversation.

Every bluff we passed had numerous waterfalls that were very pretty, but the river was moving so quickly I didn’t have much time to photograph. We soon came to a few more rapids and one nice little drop, where I took on a little bit of water and pulled over to bail. While bailing, another couple paddled up in a tandem kayak with no skirts. They had a look of inexperience about them, so DW talked with them a bit. They asked us where the “hard part” of this section was. As we’ve never paddled this section in high water we didn’t know what they were referring to, but we would soon find out.

There were a few miles between Steel Creek and Kyle’s Landing where around every bend there was a solid line of whitecapped waves. It wasn’t as hard as the Boxley section because the river is wider and there is more room to maneuver and take a different line out of the big waves if needed. I think the waves were just as big though. DW had lots of fun riding the rollers and I did too, though I didn’t hit them quite as hard as he did.

Buffalo RiverBuffalo River

Kyle's Landing

Kyle’s Landing

There were several bluffs along the way that we recognized as we flew past, but everything looked so much different with high water! We soon reached our take out at Kyle’s and pulled off the river with that tired, satisfied feeling you get after a challenging paddle. We had paddled the 8 miles between Steel Creek and Kyle’s in 1 hour and 40 minutes. There was an outfitter waiting to pick up a couple rafts at the access, and he said we were 10 minutes slower than the fastest time he had heard of that day. If I hadn’t stopped to bail my boat we probably would’ve beat that time!

We loaded our gear and changed out of our wet clothes and headed back to camp to a well deserved fire and a hot meal. If we had known it was going to rain that much we would’ve brought our whitewater boats and left the dog at home, but it was pretty entertaining as is. We learned that wetsuits are your best friend and always pack your whitewater paddle in the spring! This was a fun Buffalo trip, despite the rain and I look forward to coming back next spring to do it again.

Float #119: Buffalo River

25 Mar

Kyle’s Landing to Pruitt

F119_Buffalo

Buffalo River
Newton County, Arkansas
Thursday, March 12
13 Miles

DW and I have been wanting to do a spring trip on the Buffalo for a while, so we took a few days off work and headed down there for a little “spring break” paddling. When we left on Wednesday morning the weather was forecast to be warm, with rain on Thursday night and maybe Friday morning. Instead it started raining Thursday afternoon and didn’t stop until Saturday. So, we got some unexpected whitewater in this trip too (which is covered in the next post). We arrived at Steel Creek campground late Wednesday afternoon and set up camp. There were only a few spots taken, which is a nice change from the usual crowded campgrounds of late spring and early summer. The next day we drove down to Kyle’s Landing and purchased a car shuttle from Buffalo Canoe to drop our car at Pruitt. As we put on the river the sky was partly cloudy, but that didn’t last more than a couple hours before the clouds dominated the sky.

Kyle's Landing

DW and Ocoee ready the boats at Kyle’s Landing

Buffalo RiverBuffalo River

Look at that beautiful water!

Look at that beautiful water!

This is the first time we’ve floated the Buffalo with a decent water level. Usually we are scraping and cursing our way down the river. The water was also that unique milky turquoise color that can only be found in the Ozarks. It was by far the prettiest water I’ve seen in a while. All the sections that we usually scrape over were transformed into fast ripples and waves. Ocoee (our dog) rode the back of my kayak and fell off on the first fast section, but he soon gained his footing and was a champ through the rest of the trip.

Buffalo RiverBuffalo River

Elk on the river bank

Elk on the river bank

The trip went by pretty quickly, as the river was flowing at a good pace, about 3 miles per hour. We paddled past numerous towering bluffs, some with small waterfalls trickling over the edge. There were a few hints of green in the forest with some small plants popping up. Spring is almost ready to bloom! We saw the usual birds and turtles along the way and we also got to see an elk. There are a lot of elk living in the Buffalo river basin, but we don’t often see them as we paddle by, so that was pretty cool.

Buffalo RiverBuffalo RiverA mile or two above our takeout at Pruitt it started to sprinkle on us and that was the beginning of 48 hours of non-stop rain. We took out at Pruitt around 4:30pm, loaded our gear into our car and began the drive back to Steel Creek. We only made it a couple miles before we came to a traffic jam. A tractor-trailer had somehow driven the cab off the shoulder of the road and was blocking traffic both ways. We sat there for about 20 minutes as two tow trucks righted the tractor trailer and cleared the scene. No one was hurt and the truck drove away, slightly bruised. It was a good reminder to take it slow on those super curvy mountain roads! On Friday it rained all day long. We were going to paddle if the rain let up for a bit, but every time it slowed down it would ramp up again a few minutes later. Plus it was kinda chilly and there is nothing I hate more than being wet AND cold. We just milled around camp all day, playing cards, reading and being generally bored. We did paddle on Saturday as the weather was warmer and the river was up quite a bit.

Critter Count: Hawks, Kingfishers, Turtles, 1 Elk