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M A G A Z I N E

A R K A N S A S

ISSUE NO. 3 |2018 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m

EXPLORING WATER CLASSES

FROM BEGINNER TO ADVANCED

SUP, ARKANSAS!

BUFFALO RIVER TRIP

30 YEARS IN THE MAKING

ROWING IN LITTLE ROCK

GEAR, EVENTS & MORE!

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 1


more than just trout.

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WHAT'S INSIDE ISSUE N.O 3|2018

28

SUP ARKANSAS

Exciting New Way to Tour the Water

30

PROGRESSIVE PADDLE

Class I-V Waters in Arkansas

BUFFALO RIVER ADVENTURE

A Trip 30 Years in the Making

SAFETY & GEAR

GET OUT & PLAY

12> PADDLING EXTRAS FOR BEGINNERS 14> SHARE YOUR ADVENTURES 16> GET SKILLED 18> MY KIT

44> PADDLE EVENTS

BACKPADDLE 46> ADAPTING TO PADDLING

PADDLE IT FORWARD 20> CREW SCHOOL 22> FLOATIN' FUNDAMENTALS 26> THE LITTLE MAUMELLE

4 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

On the cover: Rob Moody of Arkansas Outdoor Outfitters heads downriver on his stand-up paddleboard at Siloam Springs Kayak Park. Photo by Novo Studio.

PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO

36


Catch an Adventure Bring a rod on your next float trip. Your fishing license does more than grant you the freedom to fish the state’s many beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams. One hundred percent of your fishing license fees are invested back into state wildlife and conservation organizations to ensure healthy fish populations, public access, and to improved habitat for both anglers and paddlers.

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M A G A Z I N E

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90 LOCAL ARTISTS 6 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

Arkansas Times Limited Partnership 201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2018 Arkansas Wild


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Rob Moody of Arkansas Outdoor Outfitters takes a break from stand-up paddleboarding at Siloam Springs Kayak Park.

We have a lot to be grateful for as paddlers living in Arkansas. Our state has some of the finest paddle sports education programs and instructors in the United States. The top-notch Arkansas Canoe Club (ACC) holds the annual Whitewater School on the Mulberry during the first weekend in May, and their River School of Paddling is around the first weekend of June. These are both great schools with a wide variety of instructors coming from all around Arkansas and the surrounding states. Sign up early for these events, as they fill quickly. My chapter of the ACC, the Northwest Chapter, offers monthly swiftwater rescue practice for anyone who has taken a swiftwater rescue course in the past, which is something everyone who paddles the rivers should prioritize. Aside from the skills you’ll learn that could potentially save a life—maybe even your own—the classes themselves are quite fun. There has also been a recent focus on paddling lessons for kids. These indoor pool lessons lead into family-oriented lessons in which the kids already have a leg up on their parents. We start kids out as young as 5 years old, and at the age of 14 they move to adult classes that focus on practical lessons rather than classroom lecture time. Kids will quickly lose interest in listening to someone talk, but if we get in the water and show them safety they eat it up, especially if it’s designed as a game. This has been a great way to introduce our next generation to an outdoor world of adventure and paddling. Adaptive paddling, a passion of mine, is also available here in Arkansas. This is a great way for paddlers needing adaptions and/or training to learn to paddle safely and efficiently. With every person and every disability being unique, adaptions are made to suit the individual, with a wide variety of adaptations available to fit kayaks, canoes and SUPs. There’s nowhere in the world you’ll find a better group of paddlers. Most Arkansas paddlers are encouraging, friendly and helpful, and they care for everyone on the river. It’s been my pleasure to help put together this issue for you, and I hope you enjoy this year’s Paddle Arkansas.

Rob Moody, Guest Editor Arkansas Outdoor Outfitters LLC Arkansas Canoe Club NW Chapter VP

8 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO

WHY PADDLE ARKANSAS?


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CONTRIBUTORS

ROCK CITY

ROWING SUMMER CAMPS ENROLLING NOW!

Adult and Youth Teams Intro Classes, Private Instruction

For more info, call, text or email Ted Riedeburg 904.553.7557 rowcoachjax@gmail.com

TED RIEDEBURG has been coaching since

1999 and holds a Level III Coaching Certification through USRowing. He is also an AFAA Personal Trainer and has been certified as an Indoor Rowing Instructor by Concept2. His first 16 years of coaching were in Florida until he moved to Little Rock in 2015.

GORDON KUMPURIS is an avid

kayaker, a 25-year member and current board member of the Arkansas Canoe Club. Â

ARKANSAS WILD LET'S TALK WILD! FOLLOW US AND SHARE YOUR STORIES, PHOTOS & MORE! PHILIP THOMAS is the owner and

@ARKANSASWILD

operator of Novo Studio, a photography, video and graphic design company located in northwest Arkansas.

@ARKANSASWILDMAG

@ARKANSASWILD GOT SOMETHING FUN COMING UP? SEND YOUR EVENTS TO LACEY@ARKTIMES.COM

10 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

BOB ROBINSON enjoys all things outdoors.

He is the author of Bicycling Guide to the Mississippi River Trail, Bicycling Guide to the Lake Michigan Trail, and Bicycling Guide to Route 66.


ARKANSASWILD.COM | 11


SAFETY & GEAR

PADDLING EXTRAS FOR BEGINNERS YOU’VE GOT YOUR BOAT AND YOUR LIFEJACKET FITS PERFECTLY—BUT YOU’RE NOT QUITE READY TO PADDLE. FIRST, GRAB A FEW ITEMS TO ADD A LAYER OF COMFORT TO THE FUN OF BEING ON THE WATER. For gear and guidance, visit your local outfitter. BY LACEY THACKER

ATTWOOD UTILITY ROPE

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NRS COIL PADDLE LEASH

“Formulating a plan to retrieve your paddle as you watch it flow downstream is never fun, so one of the first things I bought when I started paddling was a paddle leash.” $19.95

WATERSHED BIG CREEK DRY PACK

“I usually keep a towel, a dry set of clothes and my cell phone tucked safely in this dry bag. If I flip, no worries.” $129.00

THE NORTH FACE VENTURE 2 RAIN JACKET

“There are plenty of specialty rain suits designed for paddling, but I prefer a basic rain jacket in all seasons but winter, when I need more clothing.” $119.00 12 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF VENDORS

“Cut a length to use for hauling your boat up a slope, sling a few feet over to a buddy, tie your boat to a tree to stay in one spot awhile or use it to tie down your cooler and other equipment. You can never have too much rope.” $5.50


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SAFETY & GEAR

SHARE YOUR ADVENTURES GOPROS ON THE RISE IN STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING, KAYAKING AND OTHER WATER SPORTS

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF VENDORS

BY LACEY THACKER

Nick Troutman takes on some sunny whitewater.

M

ost of us love a good adventure, and retelling the story of those adventures never gets old. While spending money on items brings only fleeting satisfaction, spending time or money to create an experience is different. In fact, studies show that reliving good memories brings a joy that remains undiminished with the passing of time. But what if you could invite your friends and family into the experience after the fact? What if those who were unable to join you in the water could vicariously live your adventures recorded through a camera lens? Paddling, be it whitewater or a calm float over the Buffalo River, has been popular in Arkansas for decades. But it was only recently that stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, started gaining traction. With that momentum came an increase in the number of people wanting to record and share the memories of their time on the water. Enter GoPro.

14 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

GoPro makes cameras designed to fit into motion-reducing chest harnesses, handheld grips, head straps and even mounts designed to attach to bicycles, surfboards and other recreational toys. All models of GoPro are waterproof to varying depths, making them ideal for memorializing watery adventures, but it’s the accessories that allow their scope to be expanded into nearly any type of sport. Use a bite mount—that’s right, carry your camera between your teeth—to capture point-ofview images as you paddle downriver. Or, use the adhesive mount to place a camera on the edge of your paddleboard to capture water-height footage of the rapids. Perhaps most interesting is the Karma harness, a device that transforms compatible GoPros into drones, allowing users to take photos and video from above. Want to tackle some rapids without worrying about controlling the drone remotely? Set it to automatically follow at a fixed distance.


Getting there is half the Fun

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PHOTOGRAPHY : NOVO STUDIO

SAFETY & GEAR

6ABASIC TIPS TO ENSURE GOOD FLAT WATER EXPERIENCE

GET SKILLED TOP TIPS FOR THE MOST FUN

BY ROB MOODY

N

o matter what type of water you choose, safety should be your primary concern. After all, good experiences last a lifetime, but a bad experience could cost a life. Every year, people head out to the river and never come home,due to either paddling alone or a lack of safety and rescue skills. Safety and rescue skills are one of the most important elements I teach every year, for just that reason. RIVER SAFETY There are many potential dangers to consider before taking an SUP out on the river—and it’s not enough to simply read about them. Instead, it’s imperative to also learn techniques for how to avoid those dangers by taking a little time to practice rescue and safety techniques with a trained professional. At some point, you will get wet, whether it’s on purpose or not. And if you’re in the water, the worst thing that can happen is watching your paddleboard float down the river without you. To prevent this from happening, it’s best to take a safety and rescue course before wearing a rescue life jacket. This type of life jacket allows for attaching a leash to the back of the vest but also has a quick release on front. After all, if your paddleboard gets stuck, you don’t want to be stuck with it. For adventurers who choose not to wear a leash, consider what happens if your paddleboard takes a float without you: you could be stuck swimming the rapids and exposed to injury. In fact, instead of swimming

16 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

1. The safest place for paddlers is on the paddleboard, and a properly attached leash keeps the board close by. After taking a rescue course, students learn to wear a rescue jacket, which has a place to attach the leash on the back and a quick release on the front. The leash should not be longer than your board. 2. Always paddle with someone. 3. Make a trip plan. Let someone who is not going on the trip know your trip plan. Then notify them when you return. 4. Take a flat-water safety course. 5. Always wear a Type III canoeing, kayaking or sailing lifejacket or an inflatable belt life jacket. In flat water it is okay to wear an inflatable belt; this makes it easier to get back on the board in deep water. 6. When you fall, fall away from the board and position your body to land on the water as flatly as possible.


"AFTER ALL, GOOD EXPERIENCES LAST A LIFETIME, BUT A BAD EXPERIENCE COULD COST A LIFE."

DISCOVER

DIAMOND LAKES THERE’S A LOT TO LOVE ABOUT THE DIAMOND LAKES REGION.

those rapids, walking out is usually a safer idea. If a paddler gets in trouble out on the water, it’s easiest for them to be rescued if they’re wearing the proper vest—a Type IV rescue vest. To learn how to operate a rescue vest, contact the American Canoe Association (ACA) to get in touch with instructors certified to teach an ACA Level 4 Swiftwater Rescue Course, held about twice a year at the Siloam Springs Whitewater Park through Arkansas Outdoor Outfitters. This course will teach you about the rescue vest and several other techniques you will use all the time while stand-up paddleboarding down a river. Other valuable skills taught in safety and rescue courses include learning to fall onto the paddleboard instead of away from it—key for avoiding rocks, strainers or other obstacles in the water— swimming in swift water, and how to self-rescue. There is a lot to learn about river safety, but taking a good safety course also improves SUP paddling skills, resulting in a more fun and more effective trip downriver. A river safety and rescue course is well worth all the good experiences you will have in the future with your family and friends. Email Rob Moody, rob@ arkansasoutdooroutfitters.com, for more info and dates for SUP or river safety courses.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 17


MY KIT

PHOTOGRAPHY: NOVO STUDIO

Ted Riedeburg, the director and head coach of Rock City Rowing, gets settled in for a little rowing practice.

ROWING FLOATS INTO ARKANSAS

COACH TED RIEDEBURG IS A TRUE ROWING ADVOCATE. RIEDEBURG ROWED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND CONTINUED PARTICIPATING IN THE SPORT OVER THE ENSUING YEARS. SEVERAL YEARS AGO, HE WAS INVITED TO ARKANSAS TO HELP JUMP-START ROWING IN THE STATE. HERE, HE SHARES HIS MUST-HAVE ITEMS WHEN HE GOES OUT ON THE WATER.

18 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3


NAME: Ted Riedeburg OCCUPATION: Director and Head Coach with Rock City Rowing

1

WHERE I ROW: I first learned how to row as a freshman in high school on the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York. Since then I have lived in Florida, and now Arkansas. Some of my favorite race courses I’ve been to over the years are in Sarasota, Florida; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Augusta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now, I’m really looking forward to our relocation to Two Rivers Park in Little Rock. That is going to be a beautiful place to row.

2

WHY I ROW: I enjoy the challenge of striving for the perfect stroke, either alone in a single or with a team in a bigger boat. The rhythm created with the sounds of the boat and water are like music, which creates a meditative state in which you are completely focused on making the rowing shell move efficiently over the surface of the water. There’s nothing else like it.

3

4

THE KIT

1. KAENON POLARIZED SUNGLASSES: “The glare off the water is sometimes worse than the sun itself, so rowers need a good pair of polarized wrap-arounds.” 2. NK SPEED COACH: “This handy device measures distance, speed and stroke rate to monitor progress across practice sessions and helps you keep a constant prescribed speed or tempo.” 3. CONCEPT2 SCULLING OARS: “These are ‘Smoothie 2’ oars with a vortex edge, a good universal blade for various abilities. Sculling oars are approximately 9 feet long where sweep oars (for the ‘Big Boats’) are about 12 feet in length.” 4. WINTECH SINGLE SCULL: “This is their midweight club trainer model, which is good for beginners or as a club boat. It’s durable and a little more forgiving than a stiffer, lighter racing boat.”

5

5. CONCEPT2 INDOOR ROWER:“This is the most common tool on land for increasing sport-specific fitness and strength and may be referred to as the ‘ERG’ or rower’s torture device. We also use it to teach basic technique to beginners.”

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 19


PADDLE IT FORWARD

CREW SCHOOL

ROWING WITH AN OAR, NOT A PADDLE PHOTOGRAPHY: TED RIEDEBURG

BY TED RIEDEBURG

Evan, a junior at Central High School, rows across the Arkansas River during practice with Rock City Rowing, Little Rock’s own rowing club.

R

owing, one of the oldest sports from around the world and one rich with tradition, is making its way into new areas of the country. In the past, teams in the United States were concentrated across the Northeast, in Florida and on the West Coast, but today rowing clubs can be found all over the country. This is true of Little Rock, Arkansas, where Rock City Rowing is now offering “crew” to youth and adults in the area. Those who are familiar with rowing know there’s nothing quite like it. From the grace of the sport’s form and movements to the satisfaction of personal achievement and the camaraderie of working within a crew, there’s something for everyone. The best part? Almost anyone can row regardless of age or fitness level. This lowimpact, full-body exercise works all major muscle groups and can be enjoyed recreationally or competitively with a variety of programs and racing teams. Kriti, an eighth grader at Pulaski Academy, started rowing a little over a year ago. She says, “Rowing teaches us the important life lessons that sometimes can’t be taught in a classroom or work environment. Rowing has helped me as an individual to learn the importance

20 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

of stepping outside of your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries.” In her first official regatta, Kri pushed herself over a 4000-meter racecourse in Oklahoma City and medaled, showing her right then and there she could accomplish anything she put her mind to. Evan, a junior at Central High, is on track to row at Nationals in Sarasota, Florida, this June. He is also being looked at by many top colleges including the University of Washington, arguably the top team in the NCAA. “Rowing has given me an outlet where I can be competitive. It’s the kind of sport that allows you to constantly push yourself to improve, and I really enjoy that. It’s also a very diverse sport in that you can participate in a larger boat as a team or as an individual,” Evan explains. Rowing offers a variety of options, from the single scull to the sweep 8 with coxswain, known as the Big Boat, the ultimate test of teamwork. “Eight individuals have to be completely in sync with each other, and no one person can give up or the rest of the team literally has to ‘carry’ them down the racecourse. There are no all-stars; everyone must put in equal effort,” says Head


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Coach Ted Riedeburg. Ted explains that rowing can be meditative, bringing clarity to a busy lifestyle, as team members must focus on perfecting one movement over and over. “It’s metaphysical, bringing relaxation to both mind and body while at the same time, getting an incredible workout,” Ted continues. Rowing also provides an edge when applying for colleges, and there is scholarship money available. In fact, rowing boasts the highest percentage of any sport when it comes to receiving money for school. Roughly 55 percent of women (yes, that’s one out of two) and 20 percent of men who row in high school have a chance at earning a scholarship. Rock City Rowing is also developing an adaptive program that allows people with disabilities a chance to enjoy this sport as well. Azita, an adaptive rower, is currently a student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She fell in love with indoor rowing after trying several sports in an effort to find one that felt good. “I really love it. It relaxes me. It feels like meditation. I feel really good at the end of the session. It makes me feel good about myself. I am looking forward to trying to row on the water as well. No matter what, I think I will be rowing for the rest of my life,” Azita says. Rock City Rowing offers both youth and adult programs, with participants’ ages between 12 and 71 years. Rowing truly is for everyone.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 21


PADDLE IT FORWARD Big Piney, found in the heart of the Ozarks near Russellville, is only 67 miles long, but it offers some of the nicest floating in the state—when the water is at the correct level.

FLOATIN' FUNDAMENTALS HOW STREAMS RISE AND FALL I

t happens every summer: My non-paddler friends and family ask the question, “Been paddling lately?” Or more typically, “Been floatin’?” God bless them; they mean well. In Arkansas, we can in fact paddle 12 months a year, and yes, most of the streams in the state, at least the well-known ones, have been paddled at some point during each month of the year. But, as veteran paddlers know, these facts are very deceiving. Typically, the paddling opportunities in April are a lot different than the in-state opportunities available in August or September. This may seem rather obvious, but the annual question above suggests it’s not. Thinking back to when I was a new paddler, much of this was not obvious to me either. Below is an attempt to share some fundamental information I wish someone had shared with me sooner when I was new to paddling.

GRADIENT MATTERS

I’ve heard stories of paddling instructors having students ask, as they are about to launch on a stream, “Are we taking out here at the end of the day?” as if a stream just goes around and around like the lazy river 22 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

at a water park. So, given that water flows downhill, the second part of this is that it also flows downhill much faster the steeper the gradient. Generally, but not always, the further upstream you go, the steeper the average gradient. So conversely, the further upstream you go, the shorter the window of opportunity to paddle at optimum water levels. For some steep creeks, such as Crooked Creek in Montgomery County, or Beech Creek in Newton County, this window of opportunity can literally be just a few hours.

SIZE MATTERS

The water that flows downhill is the result of precipitation filling or fueling the stream in its watershed. That watershed could be very small, consisting of tiny drainages that one could step across, or very large, consisting of rivers in and of themselves. Consider the hundreds of watersheds large and small that make their way to the Arkansas River. The larger the watershed, the longer the window of opportunity will be to paddle the stream, assuming precipitation moves across the bulk of the watershed.

PHOTOGRAPHY: TOBY VON REMBOW/COURTESY ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM

BY GORDON KUMPURIS


LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

I’m amazed that after a localized rain event in Little Rock, friends and family still assume that “The Buffalo must really be high,” as if Fourche Creek in the middle of Pulaski County somehow fuels streams 125 miles away in Newton County.

SEASONS MATTER

According to National Weather Service data, Arkansas’ six wettest months, in order, are: November, April, December, October, May and March. The six driest months, in order, are: August, September, July, January, June and February. So, one might assume that November would be the most likely month for great whitewater and August would be the least likely. Not so fast. There are other factors that must be considered, one of which I’ve already mentioned—parts of Arkansas just get more rain than other parts. Interestingly, the wettest part of the state is clearly Polk and Howard counties in the Ouachita Mountains of Southwest Arkansas. I am no meteorologist, but my understanding that moisture from the Gulf uplifts as it pushes across the Ouachita Mountains, causing instability and condensation (rain). The driest area of the state, arguably and sadly, is in the Newton County area.

FOLIAGE MATTERS

This one escapes a lot of people. Rain must not only fall in the right place and right amounts, it also must make its way from the clouds to the stream bed in the first place. Foliage in the late spring, summer and fall acts as a natural sponge, sucking up millions of gallons of water before that water ever has a chance to make it to the stream. This means that an inch of rain in March or early April, when foliage is thin, often has a drastically different impact than an inch of rain in June or July, when foliage is thick.

GAUGE PLACEMENT MATTERS

While this plays no role in the amount of water in a stream, it can cause some information anomalies that skew some of the other concepts noted here. A gauge that is well upstream or well downstream of the section you are paddling may show a rise or fall on the gauge when the actual section of the stream you intend to paddle does not reflect the same. The Illinois Bayou, Mulberry and Big Piney come to mind, as the USGS gauges for these streams are well downstream of popular paddling sections.

VARIABLES EXIST

The Illinois Bayou, another Ozarks stream, requires quite a bit of local rainfall to reach its optimum depth of 7.0 feet.

There are a number of variables that affect stream levels. Snow and icy precipitation will have a noticeable impact on streams, but the rate of impact isn’t a 1:1 with rainfall. The rain will affect streams differently depending on the ground’s saturation and the speed of the rainfall. Dams, spillways and underground springs also change the stream’s handling of water. Armed with this fundamental knowledge, paddlers can use currently available online resources to better interpret and predict stream gauge and rainfall data. If for no other reason, the next time someone asks if “you’ve been floatin’,” you can spend 30 minutes educating them to the subtleties of how streams rise and fall until they wish they had never asked. A good place to start looking for stream gauge and weather data is our ACC website, arkansascanoeclub.com. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 23


24 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3


ARKANSASWILD.COM | 25


In several spots along the Little Maumelle River can be seen stands of cypress knobs, even more stunning from water height.

PHOTOGRAPHY: LACEY THACKER

PADDLE IT FORWARD

THE LITTLE MAUMELLE

A DAY ON A CENTRAL ARKANSAS WATER TRAIL BY LACEY THACKER

A

s the weather warmed through early spring, I found myself staring out the window thinking, “Why am I not outside?” once too often. Finally, I had enough, and I decided to play hooky. So, on a random Thursday in March, armed with a new kayak that had barely touched water, I had a friend drop me off at the kayak launch at the base of Pinnacle Mountain. Growing up in Little Rock meant being at least tangentially aware of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I’d climbed to the summit a half a dozen times, I’d walked the Kingfisher Trail and I’d had a pleasant time— but it wasn’t until I decided to start paddling more regularly that I got to wondering to where exactly the water flowed. Well friends, where else could it flow but the Arkansas River? That little stream is the Little Maumelle, and it flows about 8.5 miles downstream to where it connects with the big water. The Little Maumelle is an Arkansas Water Trail, marked and promoted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Unendingly popular with those who are in the know, this trail offers a day-long paddle without a day-long drive. 26 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

I set out, my boat loaded with water, snacks, a firstaid kit and a just-in-case fishing pole. As I rounded the first curve, I saw the edge of the popular base trail and a few walkers enjoying the 70-degree day. After about a quarter mile, I nearly had to stop and pull my kayak through a low section, but the water was just high enough to avoid doing so. I soon found out why many people launch at Pinnacle Mountain, float awhile, and then paddle back up to the launch when they’ve had enough— there is very little movement to the Little Maumelle. Luckily, I started the day early and didn’t mind a long trip downriver; ‘twas all the better to take some time practicing my cast. Considering my relative fishing inexperience, I was happy to catch the couple of crappie I did. I’ve heard anglers talk about catching largemouth and spotted bass on this float; I see a return visit in my future. At several points, we see nice stands of cypress, and getting up close to these lovely trees at water level is appealing to the eye in a way that can’t be matched on land. The texture of the bark and the curve of their hollowed-out spaces calls to us to


drink in the beauty of nature. And of course, there is plenty of wildlife to watch for. I saw turtles sunning, herons standing and plenty of smaller birds. Since I elected to float the entire thing instead of turning around and getting picked up at Pinnacle, and since the flow wasn’t exactly fast—similar to my paddling—it took me about six hours to make it to the boat launch at Two Rivers Park. But, given the location, it was easy enough to call my shuttle with a pretty accurate ETA and request a pickup, which is yet another benefit of paddling close to home in urban areas. In some ways, I’d like to be able to tell readers that I had to carry my boat over most of the low spots, or that I got lost or that I had some other funny adventure, but the reality is much more tranquil. I needed a day on the water, away from work and the tethers we’ve created for ourselves with text messages, email and constant connectivity, and that’s exactly what I found. The Little Maumelle, when there’s been enough rain, offers a leisurely day trip for those needing to soak in some outdoor time. And, if you’ve only got an hour, it’s a fine place to spend the time. Crappie are just one of the species of fish that can be found on the Little Maumelle River.

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EXCITING NEW WAY TO TOUR THE WATER

Rob Moody, one of two stand-up paddleboarding instructors in the state, navigates shoals at Siloam Springs Kayak Park. 28 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

PHOTOGRAPHY: NOVO STUDIO/ KACEE SLOUS

BY ROB MOODY


S

tand-up paddleboarding (or SUP) is a paddle sport everyone can enjoy. Adults and kids alike love the sport for its versatility, and everyone in the family will be begging for your next outdoor adventure on the water with this fun water sport. The kids can paddle their own SUP or, when they get tired, they can jump on your board for a ride-along. It works best if they sit down on the front of the board while riding along with an adult.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD

For adults, SUP offers freedom. We are no longer stuck sitting down in a watercraft all day on the water. Instead, we can sit, kneel, lie down or stand up. That opens this sport up to a wide variety of people who otherwise might not be able to paddle at all. Riders are also able to paddle on a wide variety of waterways. A SUP turns into an awesome table at lunchtime, and it functions as a large floating island with a group of SUP paddlers on a day relaxing out on flat water. Gliding across a clear Arkansas lake or river standing up offers a surreal perspective—one of the biggest differences between all other paddle sports and SUP. It’s as though the underwater world is laid out at your feet. On the river, this helps us see the line we want to run as we approach an upcoming rapid. SUP also makes those easier runs fun again. Some of my favorite Class I river sections are best enjoyed on easy-going days floating with the family. In flat water, we can catch some rays while relaxing and watching the kids play around on their board or swimming. The freedom of movement allows riders to avoid being cramped in one spot all day. For the experienced SUP rider, it is also big fun in Class II thru Class IV whitewater.

WHITEWATER SUP

Whitewater SUP is a fairly new sport, but it’s come a long way since it started. In the beginning, many people would try SUP and barely keep from flipping, yet now they are descending rivers with control, accuracy and style. The American Canoe Association is the leading association that offers a full line of SUP curriculum for professional instructors to follow and train people to paddle SUP in flat-water, tour, downwinders and whitewater conditions. This has played a big role in whitewater SUP’s upward trend of more people paddling downriver safely and efficiently. Now we also have what are called inland surfers riding stand-up paddleboards that roam our local waterways and whitewater play parks searching for that perfect endless wave. Siloam Springs Kayak Park is a good example of one of these endless waves on which you can find SUP surfers year-round. This is a very fun sport that really throws a spin between kayak playboating and surfing waves on the ocean. SUP also offers a perfect tool for exploring those beautiful secluded Arkansas coves, or just poking around the boat dock or campsite by the lake. It’s hard not to love how easy a lightweight SUP makes it to get on the water. From the pond in your backyard to a glacier lake in Alaska, SUP is the perfect ride for your adventure.

ADAPTIVE SUP

They even make boards that are wheelchair adaptable. You might be asking yourself, what if they fall off? They also make outriggers for inexperienced adaptive paddlers, where the board is unable to flip over. As a paddler progresses to learn and perform self-rescue techniques, they’ll be able to take the outriggers off and paddle off into the sunset to wherever their heart desires. Anyone wanting to start stand-up paddleboarding down rivers should take at least a one-day River Safety & Rescue course. It’s not if you swim, it’s when you swim. You will need to know what to expect and how to rescue yourself as you’re floating down the river. It’s imperative to have this skill under control before getting on a body of moving water. Arkansas Outdoor Outfitters will be offering stand-up paddleboard lessons as well as River Safety & Rescue courses in our state all summer long in 2018. Check out our event page on Facebook for a course near you.

Vincent Seidler shows off his catch from an inflatable BOTE Rackham stand-up paddleboard.

FISHING FROM A SUP Kayak fishing is incredibly popular, and with good reason. Kayaks allow anglers to move quietly across the water, are less expensive than gas-powered boats and are functional in less water. Well, stand-up paddleboards are exciting to fish from due to all the same reasons. On a stand-up paddleboard, anglers can maneuver in all types of water—shallow, deep, fast, slow, full of obstacles or totally clear. They’re incredibly versatile, and despite what those new to paddleboarding might imagine, SUPs are loaded with deck space. Most come with a few hooks to tie down gear, and they can even be purchased with rod holders. Many anglers particularly enjoy fishing from a SUP because the ability to give a full cast is improved from the standing position, unlike the somewhat restricted position required while seated in a kayak. Of course, water safety on a SUP is incredibly important, so paddleboarders are encouraged to wear a life vest and enroll in a river safety and rescue course before embarking on their first adventure. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 29


PADDLING IS FOR EVERYONE, BUT NO ONE SHOULD JUMP INTO CLASS III, IV OR V WHITEWATER WITHOUT THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE. WATER LEVEL, RECENT RAINFALL AND OTHER FACTORS CAN SERIOUSLY AFFECT THE SAFETY OF A PLANNED TRIP.

SCALE OF RIVER DIFFICULTY

ADAPTED FROM THE INTERNATIONAL SCALE OF RIVER DIFFICULTY BY AMERICAN WHITEWATER CLASS I: Rapids Fast-moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.

30 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

CLASS II: Novice Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels, which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and mediumsized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed.

CLASS III: Intermediate Rapids with moderate, irregular waves, which may be difficult to avoid and can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided.

CLASS IV: Advanced Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure.

PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ARKANSAS PARKS AND TOURISM

CHECK OUT THIS LIST OF ARKANSAS RIVERS FOR EXAMPLES OF CLASS I-V WATER IN THE STATE, BUT REMEMBER—CHECK WATER LEVELS BEFORE YOU GO, CONSIDER USING AN OUTFITTER OR GUIDE AND ALWAYS STICK TO WATER THAT MATCHES YOUR EXPERIENCE LEVEL.

CLASS V: Expert Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids, which expose a paddler to added risk. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness.


PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM

CLASS I/II “I’VE NEVER PADDLED BEFORE.” THE CADDO RIVER GPS COORDINATES: 34.45349, -93.6822 Class III: Intermediate Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe.

Class IV: Advanced Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water.

Class V: Expert Extremely long, obstructed or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk.

Class VI: FLOWS THROUGH: Extreme MONTGOMERY, PIKE AND CLARK These runs have COUNTIES almost never been attempted and often82-MILE exemplify the HAS SEVERAL THIS RIVER extremes ofOF difficulty, SECTIONS CLASS I AND IIunpredictability RAPIDS, AND and IT’S OFTEN danger. TRAVELED BY FAMILIES.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31


PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM/DANNY OWENS

CLASS III “I’M A STRONG SWIMMER.” LOWER RICHLAND CREEK

GPS: 34.87105, -93.11052 FLOWS THROUGH: NEWTON AND SEARCY COUNTIES COMMON ROUTES: RICHLAND CREEK CAMPGROUND TO NFR 1201, 8.5 MILES SECTION II IS IDEAL FOR MOVING INTO CLASS III RUNS, WITH LOTS OF ACTION IN THE FIRST FEW MILES AND A RELATIVELY FLAT END AS THE CREEK APPROACHES THE BUFFALO RIVER. 32 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3


CLASS IV/V “I’M ABLE TO SELF-RESCUE.” HORSEHEAD CREEK GPS: 35.61169, -93.6599

FLOWS THROUGH: JOHNSON COUNTY COMMON ROUTES: FR 1445A TO HORSEHEAD CREEK, 5 MILES DON’T LET THE SCENERY SURROUNDING THE CREEK FOOL YOU; THIS RUN IS NOT FOR THE INEXPERIENCED.

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34 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3


CLASS IV+ “I’VE HAD FORMAL INSTRUCTION AND LOTS OF EXPERIENCE OF INCREASING DIFFICULTY.” COSSATOT RIVER FALLS GPS: 34.34012, -94.2511

FLOWS THROUGH: HOWARD, POLK AND SEVIER COUNTIES COMMON ROUTES: ED BANKS ROAD TO HIGHWAY 278, 6.25 MILES SECTION I IS SUITABLE FOR THOSE LEARNING TO NAVIGATE CLASS II RAPIDS, BUT SECTION II BECOMES MORE CHALLENGING WITH SECTION III GETTING DOWNRIGHT HAZARDOUS.

PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ALEX KENT

For more information, check out americanwhitewater.org and ozarkpages.com. Contact your local Arkansas Canoe Club chapter for information on classes and group outings.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 35


A TRIP 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING

STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY BY BOB ROBINSON

36 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3


Bill Steelman (back) and Grant Nally (front) enjoying an up-close look at one of the many bluff walls bordering the Buffalo River.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 37


Top: Bill Steward casting a line in the Buffalo River. Below: Bill Steward hiking up Panther Creek en route to Indian Rockhouse.

W

hen Bill Steelman, a backpacking friend of mine, asked me to join him to float the Buffalo River, I thought to myself: Five days on the crown jewel of the Natural State, drifting at the base of sheer bluffs towering over 400 feet above, sleeping on polished rock shoals, fishing for smallmouth bass, exploring old homesteads that once called the river valley home, swimming daily in emerald green waters and Steelman guaranteeing I would gain weight because there would be no dehydrated backpacking meals on this trip. “Sign me up,” I promptly replied. The Buffalo River float has been an annual adventure for Steelman and Grant Nally for almost 30 years, with Jack Moffett and son Sam becoming regulars after the first few years. I invited Bill Steward, with whom I had shared numerous outdoors adventures, to make it a crew of six. This year’s trip was all the more significant for Steelman, having successfully completed prostate cancer radiation treatment several months earlier. With his Gleason score dropping like the waters of a stream in days following heavy rain, he was ready for their outdoor adventure.

38 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3


Top to bottom: Jack Moffett grilling up some fish, with son Sam and Grant Nally supervising. Turtles, lazily basking in the warm sun, not wanting to leave their perch even though we were mere feet away. Loading canoes at the Gilbert put-in, about to begin our Buffalo River adventure. Horton Pioneer Cemetery, just off Zack Ridge Road, high on a bluff overlooking the Buffalo River.

Let the Adventure Begin

Our plan was to car camp at the Maumee South Landing Tuesday night. En route, I took a detour down Zack Ridge Road for a hike to an old pioneer cemetery and visited the 1910 Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad (MNAR), the only remains of which are a massive set of concrete columns in the Buffalo River bed. Towering some 60 feet above the waters, it was difficult to visualize the December 1982 scene when flood waters covered the tops of the structures. With all members present and accounted for, early Wednesday morning we headed to Wild Bill’s Outfitters to arrange shuttle service to Gilbert Landing. Canoes loaded high with all the necessities to live like pampered kings on the river for the next five days, our river adventure began. With my phone stashed in my vehicle, I severed all contact with the outside world as I pushed my boat off the shore. The only paddling required at the current river flow was to keep the canoe pointed downstream. There were occasions we didn’t even bother with that. We were soon gently drifting past the base of the MNAR concrete columns I had photographed the previous day from the bluff high above. Following this we maneuvered a river bend at the base of colorful Red Bluff. For those knowledgeable enough to read them, the 260-foot rock formation would have an interesting story to tell. The layers of St. Peter Sandstone, St. Clair Limestones and Boone Formation would read like a biography on the ancient history that formed the river valley. Prior to the trip, I read Ken Smith’s Buffalo River Handbook to learn that many early settler homesteads bordered the banks of the mighty river, their memories preserved in the names of bluffs and river landings. Reading this gave me a healthy appreciation of the area during the float. Early afternoon we moored our vessels on what everyone felt certain was the best campsite on the river. Located on a gravel bar just past Little Rocky Creek across from an unnamed bluff, it offered everything we were looking for. With rain forecast the following day, the plan was to extend our initial campsite to a second night. Rigging a common shelter among the trees on the riverbank, we planned to remain high-and-dry while watching the rain and river flow. After setting up camp, while sitting in my chair enjoying an adult beverage, Moffett began serving boiled shrimp dipped in heavy cream sauce while Steelman grilled steaks for dinner. I decided Steelman was right; I probably would be gaining weight on the trip. Prior to turning in for the night, we installed a rain gauge (a stick driven in the ground at the water’s edge) to monitor changes in the river level. At that time, it was merely for curiosity’s sake.


40 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3


Clockwise from top: Father Jack Moffett (left) and son Sam (right) sharing the beauty of Painted Bluff together. Bill Steelman leading the group through the pouring rain. Home away from home on a gravel bar across from majestic Spring Creek Bluff.

CHANGE IN PLANS

Sometime after midnight I was awakened from deep slumber by the sharp crack of thunder. Opening my eyes, the tent poles overhead were outlined by a bright flash of light. As I became more conscious, I could hear the gentle patter of raindrops pelting my rainfly. However, my MSR Hubba Hubba tent kept me warm and dry, and I soon drifted back to never-never land. Peering out the tent the following morning, I saw that the rain was still falling and our river gauge was completely submerged. After everyone eventually emerged from their tents, we gathered under the common area shelter. While sipping hot chocolate and coffee, we calmly discussed our options. With the previous day’s weather forecast predicting only three-tenths inch of rain for the entire day, and the water level still 25 feet from our camp, we set a new rain gauge, deciding to monitor the water’s progress, while Chef Moffett prepared a batch of delicious breakfast burritos. As the morning progressed, the rain was unrelenting and the river continued its assault up the gravel bar. Luckily for us, Sam Moffett is a math major. Doing the arithmetic, with the river advancing at a rate of one foot per half an hour, and with our campsite now less than 20 feet from the water level, unless we wanted to be floating around on our mats in our tents, we were going to have to relocate to higher ground. During the next lull in the rain, we quickly gathered up camp and launched into the now swift waters of the Buffalo. Even with the rain, at times, creating a curtain of water, I remained comfortable in my rain gear. With the heavy downpour, the bordering hillsides were adorned by countless cascades and waterfalls, and it turned out to be a magical experience. As the rainfall weakened, we docked our boats river left on a rock bar across from the imposing 360-foot formation called Spring Creek Bluff. Nally had marked the spot on the map as a favorite campsite from previous floats. Even at the current river level, there remained 15 feet of beach at the base of a gravel bench elevated another eight feet, large enough to accommodate our camp. This was to be our home for the next couple of nights as we awaited a drop in the river level. The map listed a cemetery a couple miles away we could explore the following day, plus we could fish eddies along the shore.

LIFE IS GOOD

As we lounged on the gravel bar the following day, Rangers Adam Bass and Chris Watson pulled their power boat onto the shore of camp. With three inches of rain resulting in a 12-foot rise in the river level, it is standard procedure for them to patrol the river to check on the safety of floaters. After discussing river conditions and sharing our story of the evacuation of our previous campsite, they decided we knew what we were doing and continued downriver to check on others. The weather cleared and the conditions became near perfect. Life was so good at the camp that we contemplated extending our stay for a third night. However, we had a hike planned further downstream and knew if we remained, there would not be time. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 41


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paddlesoul.com 42 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

FINISHING IN STYLE

As I zipped open my rainfly at daybreak, I startled a Great Blue Heron walking on the gravel bar in front of my tent. The stately bird gently lifted off the polished rocks to gracefully glide upriver maintaining a three-foot interval above the water. This is how every day should begin. Following a breakfast of biscuits, which Steelman prepared in a Dutch oven, layered with sausage gravy and a large helping of Moffett’s delicious, crisp hash browns, we continued our voyage. The sun shined brightly overhead as we leisurely drifted downstream. Nally occasionally peeled into an eddy to drop a fishing line, but everyone was generally content with allowing the river current to dictate our pace. We maneuvered our canoes into the entrance of Panther Creek for a hike to Indian Rockhouse. With the swollen river’s waters backing up into the drainage, we were able to paddle our boats several hundred feet upstream. At that point, Steward and I secured our boat to continue on foot. The others had made the hike on previous trips and chose to have lunch in the shade of the bordering trees then continue to our next campsite.


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Fun for Family and Friends

A family enjoying Indian Rockhouse, with Bill Steward enjoying the warm sun.

With steep earthen banks bordering both sides of the drainage, we chose to wade up the creek bed. Within a mile we reached a maintained trail coming from the highway. Indian Rockhouse is the second largest shelter cave in the Buffalo River valley, with a 30-foot ceiling and measuring 270-feet across its massive opening. There is also an underground stream at one end that flows from the mouth of a smaller cave, through Indian Rockhouse, and disappears into a third cave. When we joined the group, they were setting up camp on the gravel bar across from Ludlow Bluff, towering almost 600 feet above the river. That night, Chef Moffett grilled steelhead trout over wild rice. As we enjoyed our meal on the banks of the river, a bald eagle glided upriver some 20 feet away. Our last night on the river was under a ceiling of bright twinkling stars. More tales of prior adventures were shared as our Buffalo River Adventure was coming to an end. Just two miles from our takeout at Rush Landing, I savored the evening then slept soundly in my cozy nest.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 43


GET OUT & PLAY

PHOTO BY ROB MOODY

PADDLE EVENTS

DON'T MISS THIS!

CADDO BEND PADDLE DUATHLON SEPTEMBER 2 Arkansasgettingeveryoneoutside.com

MAY 26

JULY 27

JUNE 3

AUGUST 18

KAYAK TOUR Arkansasstateparks.com

FAMILY KAYAK COURSE Arkansasoutdooroutfitters.com

JUNE 8-10

SCHOOL OF RIVER PADDLING Arkansascanoeclub.com

JUNE 16

SWIFTWATER RESCUE COURSE Arkansasoutdooroutfitters.com

JUNE 23

TWILIGHT KAYAK ADVENTURE Arkansasstateparks.com

44 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3

WOOLLY HOLLOW STATE PARK FULL MOON KAYAK TOUR Arkansasstateparks.com/woollyhollow

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PHOTO COURTESY OFCITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK

BACKPADDLE

North Little Rock’s handicap-accessible canoe and kayak launch at Burns Park allows paddlers of different abilities to access the water. The launch was purchased using funds from a grant provided by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

ADAPTING TO PADDLING

ALL ABILITIES CAN ENJOY THE WATER

BY LACEY THACKER

P

addling is for everyone—or it should be. But for people with hearing or vision impairment, limited mobility or even paralysis, water sports may seem off-limits. That’s where adaptive paddling comes in. “Adaptive paddling is the link between therapeutic paddling and performance paddling,” says Rob Moody, American Canoe Association-certified Adaptive Paddling Instructor. In an adaptive paddling class, Moody and the student evaluate the student’s abilities and what outfitting adaptations are needed to keep the student safe and comfortable. Whether it’s foam padding that encourages healthy blood circulation, paddle adaptations that allow people with limited mobility to paddle more easily or self-rescue techniques that allow the student to keep themselves above water in case they tip, with a little practice on land and in the controlled environment of a pool, people who may have thought water adventures were out of the question may find their new hobby.

Contact your local ACA-certified instructor for more information.

46 | PADDLE ARKANSAS

issue no. 3


Floating Adventure & Buffalo National River Great Escapes

• Kayak and Canoe Rentals • Shuttle Service • Floating & Fishing on the Buffalo National River • Cozy Luxury Cabins • Natural Secluded Setting • Jacuzzis and Fireplaces • Scenic Ozark Mountains • Close to the Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail A designated IMBA Epic Ride

23 HIGHWAY 268 E. #1 • YELLVILLE, AR 72687 • 1.800.554.8657

Wild Bill’s Outfitter is an Authorized Canoe Concessioner of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

WILDBILLSOUTFITTER.COM

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 47


EXPANDING OUR HORIZONS Book today to see our beautiful expanded property, where new adventures await. The greatest outdoor destination is getting even better. Catherine’s Landing, an RVC Outdoor Destination, is expanding to include an array of wonderful amenities and additional lodging spaces: Recreation Rentals • Pontoon boats • Canoe • Kayak • Kids splash pad • Saline pool

Lodging • RV sites • Cottages • Yurts • Tent site

Adventureworks • High ropes obstacle course • Zip line tours

C E LE B R ATE WI TH U S During our Phase II Summer Celebration, book 2 nights or more* in May, June, July, or August, and we’ll add 1 night for free! CALL 501-262-2550 EMAIL catherineslanding@rvcoutdoors.com WEB rvcoutdoors.com/catherines-landing/

48 | PADDLE ARKANSAS For issueonline no. 3 *Disclosure: booking, please add note “Phase II,” and the free night will be refunded upon check-in.

Paddle Arkansas 2018 | Arkansas Wild  
Paddle Arkansas 2018 | Arkansas Wild