So my most recent excursion was not to any destination in Oklahoma, but close enough.
Actually, my most recent trip doesn’t count. Good times at Grand Lake for the Fourth hardly counts. So we’ll backpeddle a bit and I’ll share a note on a float trip a friend and I took down the Buffalo River in Arkansas.
We were set to do the last 25 miles of the Buffalo, so we left early on a Friday morning and drove about 4 hours from Tulsa to Yellville, AR and then a few miles south to our put in spot. We used Wild Bill’s Outfitters for our canoe rental.
We got a late start, but were on the river by late afternoon. Not a mile downstream the first grumbling of a chasing storm was heard. Mike pleaded to shore and camp, but I encouraged us to push on. We paddled at a more feverish pace. Mike was a bit weary of the nearing lightning, bolts seen, but not yet heard. I knew the the worst of the storm was still a good distance away and we could continue on. It was quite entertaining to see the panic in Mike. My not being concerned bothered him deeply.
For the first four or five miles, we saw nobody and as he paddled, I snuck a cast hear or there. The first smallmouth bass I caught angered Mike, for he prides himself on being the first. He was equally angry that we were being hunted by a thundering storm and I was more concerned with fishing.
Finally I gave in and we shored, began setting up camp. Our timing turned out to be impeccable. We got all our dry gear bags, coolers and fishing gear in our tent just in time. There was no way the group we had just passed – the first people we saw on the river – had camp readied in time for the downpour that kept us in our own tent for an hour or more laughing over a beer.
The rain stopped and we got out onto the sandy beach we had chosen. The peace was unmatched. The sounds of traffic, phones, etc., were gone. Only audible was the distant rumbling of thunder and the churning of a small river chute about 100 yards away. The sound of the river’s casual descent toward the Mississippi River was hypnotic.
The next morning we were on the river an hour after the sun broke through the fog blanketed river bluffs. Just a sidenote, but what is remarkable about the Buffalo River is that it is a national river, so you can camp anywhere you want along the river. Our spot was prime.
Anyway, we paddled at a slow clip, occasionally putting down the paddle to wet a line. At every chute, we would run it, then get out and cast up stream. This was where most smallies were caught. But we also played, wrestled like youngsters in the water or just floated. A sound piece of advice? Take a pair of goggles.
The river was our playground.
At the end of day two, we again set up camp right along the river. Both Mike and I were done for and asleep early. We still had a good half day of paddling ahead of us, the last 6 miles of the river before it dumps into the chilly White River.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip. The peace of mind was unmatched and the scenery at times hard to believe was so close to home. I’ve been to the Natural State on many excursions, but this was by far the best.
I think the next on my list is going to be in southeast Oklahoma. Do share.
Until next time,
p.s. Mike and I sang “Take Me to the River” by Talking Heads the entire trip down the river.