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Archive for August 8th, 2009

I ran off for a couple of days with two friends of mine.  We took our boats down to the Spring River in Arkansas and floated the stretch of river just below Mammoth Springs, which is the source of the Spring River, to just below Sadler Falls.  We camped at a riverside campground for two nights.   Purposely, we went down on Wednesday night planning to leave after floating Friday.   We had no interest in trying to sleep in a campground full of drunken idiots playing their radios loudly and practicing Rebel Yells all night.  It was pretty bad before the weekend, and it was challenging enough to try to sleep within 100 yards of a railroad track that sported a train every 40 minutes.

Since the Spring River is fed by a spring, it is a cold river.  Every evening after the sun goes down, the hot humid air that contacts the river condenses and there is fog.   It makes for a magical morning, when all the spider webs are spangled with the fog.   I got up early enough to catch the sun at the right angle to make a rainbow in the drops.

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No, I did not photoshop that rainbow effect.   I did, however, spend an inordinate amount of time and many shots to get the angle just right to catch it.

The river sports class I and II rapids as it makes its way over the limestone ledges in the region.  This one is about a four foot drop.

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Usually there is a way around the actual falls to river right or left.  The tricky thing about these falls is that because they are formed by a long flat ledge, you can hear them long before you can see them.  There is a falls in the following picture, and we are coming up on it slowly, trying to pick out the best way over or around.

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See the falls?   Neither did I.   But the following picture shows what they look like from below.   Mabel is surfing the hydraulic below the falls.   I did this too, it’s a lot of fun.  Trust me, you don’t want to hit this one unawares.   We saw a couple of guys in a canoe try to go over this one right in the middle, and they successfully dumped their canoe.  The proper place to go over this falls is right next to the rock wall; there are about three lines you can take there.

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Here’s another angle on the actual proper spot to go over this falls.   It is right next to the rock wall on the bank.  An experienced floater could manage the “v” at the left edge of the picture, but an inexperienced person would probably swamp their canoe there.   I didn’t try that spot, I used the chute by the rock wall.

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Farther down the river is a lovely falls with a great swimming hole below it.   There is a channel on river right that takes you around the falls.   The following pictures are of Mabel and Jeri making their way down the chute.  Jeri is farther down the channel than Mabel is, so you get a fairly good idea of the run.  It’s a fun little riffle.

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That was a real hoot!   After we ran that channel, we stopped on the gravel bar and had our lunch and went swimming.   I did some posing on the rocks that have fallen off the ledges below the falls.

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That rock was pretty interesting.  There were many holes and channels in it, some were acting like tiny blow holes.

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We also found a tiny turtle, one of this year’s hatch.  According to my Reptiles and Amphibians guide, this is a Mississippi Map Turtle, resting not too comfortably in Jeri’s palms.

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We also saw numerous green herons, and one was so cooperative as to pose for me.

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Now, the channel around Sadler Falls was a little more challenging, and I’m sorry to say that both days we ran it I was so full of adrenalin I did not take any pictures.   It is truly a class II rapid, and the first day we ran it we had a lot of excitement.   The river is deep and strong, and makes two ess curves.  At the top of the first ess Mabel came to grief.   She had been trying out the Viper that Jeri was floating, a specialized white water canoe.   We did not realize that we had reached this technical part of the river when we started around it, and she dumped that canoe bad.   It was right after she had said “I wouldn’t take this boat if you paid me $500 to take it, it won’t go where I want it to.”   I think the boat was offended and that is why she got wet.   But honestly, I couldn’t have controlled that boat without a good deal of practice, and she had only been in it about 10 minutes when we came around the corner and all of a sudden there we were in the middle of a lot of boiling water, rocks, and standing waves.

No equipment was lost during the mishap, although there were some bad bruises sustained when people were slammed against various rocks.  Not only did we not lose any equipment, we also recovered the two empty water bottles that were lost during the event before we reached our takeout point, so we were not even inadvertent litterers.

I managed to escape unscathed in spite of a bone-head decision to enter the swift current without my flotation on (GEEZ LOUISE!) in an attempt to cross the river to help Mabel get her canoe loose from the rock the current had it pinned against.  It didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t crossing that current and I needed to get back to shore PDQ.  I managed to do it safely.  Why I did not get my head smashed on a rock, an arm busted, or my knee creamed I will never know.  However,  I think I saw my guardian angel wringing water out of her hair while cursing quietly right after I got myself back to shore.

Anyway, that is why we decided to run the same stretch of river the next day.  Nobody could tolerate the idea of one of our party being skunked by the river, and the second day we all negotiated that spot successfully.

The whole trip was totally cool.  I believe I may have discovered the seeds of a new addiction within me.

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