Arkansas Day 3, part 2

From the Rapids to Big Creek

We got back in the river pretty quickly and knew we had several miles to get to Middle Creek. I wasn’t worried about the rain that was coming, but I wasn’t excited about it either. In between us and Middle Creek was Big Creek. Initially this had been a stop on our itinerary but we’d decided to leave it off so that we could have an entire day for waterfall hunting.
The rain came before we even got to Big Creek. 
And ahead of the rain was thunder. And with thunder comes lightening.
As the clouds started moving in we started paddling pretty hard trying to make some time. As the thunder started moving in I started looking for a place to beach these kayaks and find shelter. That isn’t easy to do on this river. Lots of stretches are impassable – 100 foot tall cliffs rising out of the water or steep hillside with thick brush.
Not everyone was real keen on stopping when we did – I was already starting to feel like an overprotecting parent, but I also wasn’t interested in taking chances. 
We got out of the river, grabbed a few things and moved up the hillside to find a place to put up our rain fly. As we were doing so the rain started. And then the lightening strikes began.
Our first shelter was not put up very well, but it kept us mostly dry. We sat under that tarp until the storm passed and we hadn’t heard any thunder for half an hour. 
Then it was back in the river for about 100 yards before navigating more rapids. I think we were a little more cautious this time – I was definitely more nervous. But these ended up just being pretty fast, no real craziness.
(Ira was taking these pictures…that’s why there isn’t one of him)
After maybe a quarter of a mile we heard more thunder. awesome.
So…back to the beach…gather some gear…head up the hill…set up the tarp a little more carefully this time…and sit.
The rain was really coming down and the lightening was striking a lot closer than I would’ve liked. And we were sitting under a tarp hoping that it didn’t start hailing for the second time in an hour. Nobody looked like they were having much fun…
So we broke out something tasty to drink and played poker! After all, this was our vacation!
Eventually the rain stopped and we were able to get going for real. After all these setbacks we decided to go ahead and make camp at Big Creek. And rarely have I been more happy to see a creek!

This place was awesome. You can sorta tell in this picture, but there were several terraces here. Each level was covered with mud and decaying driftwood from previous floods, but also a bright green carpet grass. We had to climb up to the level we where we camped and then there was another level about 10 feet above us. It was a pretty awesome campsite.

Once the fire was going we began drying our backpacks…

And Chris started trying to dry all of his clothes! 
We learned a few things while camped here. 
After a rain in the Ozark Mountains, the stars are about 10 times brighter than any you’ve ever seen.
Small backpacking stools that you are trying to dry by a fire will begin to melt if you aren’t careful.
So will the new pants that Chris had bought specifically for this trip.
Zatarains Red Beans and Rice and instant mashed potatoes are among the most delicious foods in the world when prepared at a campsite after a day like we had.
Clothes hung out to dry actually end up wetter if you leave them over night and a heavy fog sets in just before dawn.
Wet clothes are heavy.
Day 3 was a long day, but Ira was right, its already been filed away as a good memory. There were lots of other things that happened on this day, but its the nearly drowning and getting electrocuted parts that I remember most clearly.
The last thing I thought before drifting off to sleep was, “I wonder how much the river is going to rise tonight?”


Posted on April 13, 2009, in arkansas, Big Creek, buffalo river, camping, kayaking, trip. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. those pictures of the sky at Big Creek make it seem like I was making up the rain part…that’s how the weather was all week though. One minute its storming the next minute its beautiful…and then back again!My brother-in-law Robert (the one in the red sit-in kayak) posted a couple videos and a picture of us sitting under the rain fly that proves that it rained once anyway!

  2. I love “the things we learned” part!

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