Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ponca to Kyles Landing, Buffalo River -- Arkansas

The trip was planned for some time and as it got closer and closer I was sure that we would have to cancel it because of all the rain we've been having, but the rain Gods and Goddesses smiled on us. They gave us the only non rainy day in a string of ten or so to enjoy our outing on the Buffalo River. This particular section was new to me. Last year I paddled from Steel Creek to Buffalo City for a total of about 122 miles, but we missed this section due to low water last year, so I can now say I have paddled the full 131 miles of the Buffalo River.

We used the Lost Valley Canoe Outfitter in Ponca. The approach was a little different than usual. We drove to the put in point and they took the car and left it at Kyles Landing for us at the take out point. That makes it really easy when you are finished you can just get in the car and go. There is no waiting for a shuttle bus to bring you back to your car, pretty neat I thought.

We all opted for kayaks and I for one was surprised that Otters were as short as 6 feet; it made for a slightly more unstable float than I expected, but they are so easy to maneuver we didn't give it any more thought. The current in many places was stronger than I was used to and I found myself swamped once in deep and rushing water. I wasn't the only one to take a dunk, we all did at least once but there was no real danger. We were able to get to shore pretty quickly in most cases and we all appreciated the temperature of the water on a warm day!

Here is the group Cat, Tom and Jill enjoying the first pretty rock formation after starting our float trip

You never know where along the way you will find a pretty waterfall, this one went way back in the woods and was very pretty to look at from the river

Here is my friend Cat floating down a ripply rapid, it didn't take long for all of us to scope out the rapids and if all was well the paddle went up in a horizontal position for the others to see and enjoy their turn!

Here is Jill, she has found yet another waterfall.  The sounds were delightful!

We found our way to Kyles Landing a little later than I anticipated, but still plenty of daylight and were very happy to switch into dry clothes.  We all got in the car and headed out and that is when our perfect day began to unravel.  The road to Kyles Landing is very steep, dirt and because of all the recent rains was graded and graveled that day.   My little car was unable to negotiate the hill.  I got about halfway up and the car just stopped.  It was like driving in snow, that was absolutely no traction.  I tried backing down the hill, got a good head start and tried speeding up the hill, but still could not do it.

Stuck out there I really did not know what to do.  I had no cell signal so I could not call AAA. Others with 4 wheel drive could barely make it so it was not likely that anyone was going to give us a tow.  After about 45 minutes, the outfitter had returned after bringing the canoes and kayaks back to the office.  He had a friend with him that does mountain-climbing.  What a fortunate turn of events, he had plenty of rope (that does not stretch when tension is applied) so he threaded it three times through the two tow loops on the front of my car, and shaped it into a triangle, so the chain with a hook could be attached.  Then they and I drove up the hills.  It was pretty scary since I was only a couple of feet from the pickup truck

But it worked and in practically no time at all we were on our way for a well deserved dinner.
The very next day I read in the paper that this very road was going to be posted that 4 wheel drive vehicles only were to be allowed on it since the grading had made it so treacherous !
Those fellows from Lost Valley Canoe, sure saved my skin that day and I appreciate that they were able to help me out of that nasty predicament!


Linda Myers said...

Wonderful to see you've recovered and are enjoying new adventures.

Arlee Bird said...

Looks like a wonderful river trip, but the adventure that followed sounds a bit much. It gave you a good story to tell, I guess.

Tossing It Out