Sunday, April 8, 2012

Buffalo River National Park

(By Steve)  I had the opportunity to canoe down the Buffalo River with the big girls on Saturday.  Much to my disappointment, Linda decided to stay behind because Jake was still very much sick.  She really was right to stay back with the littles though, even if I didn't think so at the time. ;)  I arrived at the Speer property at 9AM, and the crew was almost ready to leave.  Shanan and Alyssa had stayed overnight for a rare sleepover.  It was good to see how excited they were to go canoeing.  Canoeing is special to us as Linda and I spent  three summers working as canoe staff at a Christian summer camp in far Northern Minnesota from '99 to '01.  It was rewarding that our girls loved it and did well at it.

Our view from the put-in point
Greg maneuvering one of the first rapids

We quickly loaded up and headed out to the put-in point.   My truck was one of the 4 vehicles we took.   We drove about 10 miles to Ponca and dropped all our gear and most of our people there.   From there, we all drove down river about 15 miles to Kyle's Landing which was our take out point. We left our vehicles there and drove back in one to join the others.   We weren't actually on the water till about noon.

The Buffalo River is a National Park area.   The banks on both sides are all public property and often have steep bluffs.  The river is one of the few in the country that is not controlled by a dam.   The water is crystal clear; you can see every rock on the bottom, even in the deeper sections.   It was fun to spot fish as we went along.  It is a national gem, and I am ashamed to admit that I hadn't really heard of it before we came here.

The stretch of river we canoed had peaceful stretches followed by rapids.  The rapids are not that hard or dangerous but provided plenty of excitement.   I would preferred it if the river was a little higher since it was easy to get stuck on rocks. I started off taking Alyssa and Zaynah in my canoe, and Greg took Shanan and Jereme.  Thanks to Zaynah's claim on the colorful canoe, we got one of the better ones, a blue Old Town made for exactly what we were using it for. Greg wound up with a canoe with a keel, made more for lakes.   It was much heavier which wasn't an asset; it really slowed them down.

Greg, Jereme and Shanan
Alyssa and Zaynah taking a breather in my canoe. We had to do this alot when we waited for Greg to catch up.
Along the way we stopped at Hemmed-in-Hollow and hiked about a mile each way to a beautiful waterfall.  We spent the rest of the day on the river, arriving at our pickup point at about 7PM.  By the time we made it back to the RV, it was after midnight!  All in all, it was an amazing day.  One of the best I have had on this adventure!   PS.   I almost forgot to mention the amazing pulled pork that Greg Spires made and shared with everyone.   By far the best pulled pork I ever tasted!  

I think this is the tallest waterfall in the state. There wasn't much water, but it was still very beautiful.
Hanging at the bottom of the falls
The kids having a swim in the cold water

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