Published: August 6th 2007June 10th 2007
Six guys and three days and a back to nature adventure. And hanging out with just guys is a very different experience than when girls are around. The nature of the conversation changes, we relax more, etc.
For most of the time on the trip, I wore just a hat and a bathing suit... wearing shoes only when necessary. It was a very liberating feeling... kind of like a Huck Finn free-spirit. Most of the others guys wore about the same.
Over the three days, we spent a lot of time talking and joking around. It was great to hang out with Luke and Brandon while also getting to know Adam, Rubin, and Luther. We all have different personalities and interests.
We packed up Friday afternoon in Springfield and headed down to Yellville, AR to pick up two canoes and two kayaks at Wild Bill's Outfitter (http://www.ozark-float.com/). We then put in a few hours hours before dusk.... of course, that is where the real adventure of it began.
I had packed up, or at least I thought, any electronics (camera and cell phone) in a dry bag. I didn't worry too much about my backpack since it
mainly had clothes and sealed food in it... and it was in a canoe. So, I bet that on a Class I river we would not at any point flip the canoe. ;)
Ten minutes into the trip I had just gone around a bend in the river when I heard someone yell up the river that we had flipped the canoe... at first I thought they were joking. They were not. I banked the kayak and walked up the gravel bar to see what was happening. They had brought my (soaked) backpack to the shore by then. No problem... I thought... just dry it off. But while searching through its pockets I found that I had accidentally brought my iPod with me... it hasn't worked since. :) Now the scales have been tipped -- I will probably buy an iPhone as soon as they are available (plus, I haven't upgraded my phone in three years... which was a basic "free" phone back then).
So, we paddled down the river past a local party area (where a few cops were searching through some teenagers liquor stash) down to a quiet bend in the river with a big rock
bluff on one side and a nice gravel bar on the other. We set up camp... at which time I realized that we only had brought two two-man tents (Luke said the third was in disrepair due to some kind of theatre production... sounds odd, I know) for the six of us. For both nights we slept three to a tent like sardines in a can.
We swam in the river and built a campfire with dry wood around the area. Luke brought a hacksaw, so we were able to cut large branches off of dead trees. An interesting thing I learned is that, instead of cutting the large branches into short logs, we could slowly feed a long branch into the fire over a few hours.
We grilled hot dogs on a propane grill and made s'mores (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S'more) using the campfire and then sat around the campfire and talked for a few hours before heading to bed.
The next morning we packed up and continued our journey (the evening before we had only gone about two miles, so there was plenty ahead of us).
The river and surrounding area is beautiful... it is a very
hilly area of the Ozarks with many bluffs, rock cliffs, and gravel bars along the way. The water is fairly clear and we could see fish such as small-mouth bass, garr, and sucker-fish. Along the way, there were lots of turtles on branches sticking up out of the water and along the bank. We saw numerous birds... including great blue herons and a bald eagle, which is native to North America and is the national bird of the United States.
We stopped for lunch on a sand bar around noon before continuing on our way. Around four or five PM, and after estimating how far we had left and would need to cover the next morning, we found a gravel/sand bar and set up camp. This campsite had about an 100 meter long stretch of swift flowing water near it that was only a few feet deep and very shallow at some points... this ended in a pool-like area where we went swimming. Also, where the 100 meter stretch began, it forked off into an area that was narrow and had overhanging trees along it... which was enjoyable to kayak through.
Since I brought my
goggles, I decided to go to the top of the 100 meter stretch and float/swim down it under water (coming up for breath at intervals, of course :). The current pulled me along quite well... the rocks passed by quickly and I saw various fish... included a two or three pound sucker fish. At the end of it I passed through a school of little neon fish (at least, that is what they looked like)... hundreds, if not thousands, of the little guys. I also swam through a school of baby fish (having had a few aquariums when I was younger, I can tell a minnow or other small fish apart from a baby fish... big eyes, tiny body). There were thousand of these baby fish and they were maybe 1/8 of an inch long.
Then I decided to take one of the kayaks out. After paddling around awhile I decided to take on the 100 meter stretch going upstream. I got maybe 20 meters and quit... floating quickly back over where I put so much energy into traversing. Seeing that I was making some progress though, albeit inches at a time, I went at it again. After maybe
20 minutes, paddling at the edges of the current as much as possible, and resting at a few mini-inlets, I got past it.
This night we grilled hamburgers, had more s'mores, and ate other snacks. We then headed to bed.
During the night the area was covered in fog... but by morning it began to clear out.... revealing clear, blue skies for the first time on our trip. We packed up and floated/paddled the six or seven miles left. It went fairly quickly. Along the way, we stopped at a deeper area and swam around... Rubin and I jumped off a large boulder into the water a few times... once while climbing to get back up the boulder I fell back and scraped the top of my foot (my only injury on the trip :).
We reached Dillards Ferry around noon. We loaded up our stuff and headed back to Springfield.
Overall, the trip was great. I enjoyed both kayaking and canoing and spending time with the guys.
There are more photos below