As I sit here at my computer this evening, I’m totally gassed. So is Deb, and we’re both sore — arms, legs and core. She’d never been canoeing before, and although I was an avid canoeist in my youth, that was 35 years ago.
Today, joined by the boys, their ladies and the younger’s dog Calvin, we canoed the Buffalo National River. We left Ernie and Mercy behind at the campground, piled into our rented SUV and traveled 40 miles southeast to make arrangements with a reputable outfitter. Once situated, we drove down-mountain to a nearby access point, loaded our canoes and put in.
It was a near-flawless autumn day, very windy but unseasonably warm, and we had the river to ourselves. The reach we chose was a 5.4-mile stretch from Tyler Bend to Gilbert — a short and relatively placid run with a few patches of silver (not white) water. Because the river was low, occasionally we skidded across the rocky bottom, and once (because we chose the wrong course through the shallows) Deb and I had to get out and drag our canoe across a gravel bar.
We stopped a few times on shoals to rest, refresh and absorb our surroundings. This river is a true treasure, crystal-clear and wild, bounded in many places by bluffs and cliffs and caves. The hardwoods on the hillsides today were beginning to show their fall colors. Every bend of the Buffalo was a postcard.
We had a ball. As much as we’ve come to love this river, admiring it from the banks, Deb and I can testify that nothing compares to being on the water. With effort and a little patience, that canoe took us places we couldn’t go any other way. It showed us things we wouldn’t’ve seen otherwise.
It brought us face-to-face with wonder.
There’s something useful to take from that, I think. The reward was definitely worth the work.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.