Rainy days call for treks to waterfalls

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March 28, 2017 Comments Off on Too much rain doesn’t float paddlers’ boat Latest, On The Water

Too much rain doesn’t float paddlers’ boat

Three days of rain was a welcome event for nearly everyone during a dry spell one spring a few years back. Gardeners smiled. So did river runners who enjoy floating our mountain streams.

There was water, water everywhere, from the Elk River to the Mulberry, and all streams in between. Sometimes, those showers can bring too much of a good thing. Like the time we drove 300 miles and didn’t get to float,thanks to the magic powers of my pickup and canoe.

Drought on the horizon? Never fear. Call me and the moment I lash the canoe to the truck, the sky will darken. Rain may fall for 40 days and nights.

It was many moons ago when my neighbor, Matthew, and I planned a trip to the Ouachita River near Hot Springs. It had been on our calendars for weeks. The Ouachita was uncharted waters for both of us. We’d heard the smallmouth bass fishing was superb. It’s a long haul to the river, about 150 miles. We planned a three-day trip.

On departure day, the sky grew darker the farther south we traveled. The first raindrops hit the windshield about West Fork. The closer we got to Hot Springs, the harder it poured.

When we hit Waldron, we wished we had an ark on the truck instead of a canoe. Roadside ditches were so full we could have pulled over anywhere and started a float trip.

The deluge reminded Matthew that he’d forgot to pack his rubber boots. We hydroplaned into a farm store at Waldron, and Matthew spent a 20 on a shiny pair of black rubber boots.

At Y City it was raining cats, dogs and assorted other pets. Thirty miles later, we splashed into the little town of Pencil Bluff to meet an outfitter we’d called weeks earlier to help with our shuttle. Racks of rental canoes lined the driveway of the business, but the sign said “closed.”

I climbed out of the truck, dashed through the rain to the porch and knocked on the door. Sure enough a woman answered and said, yes, she was the owner.

“Great,” I piped. “I’m the guy who called you last month about a shuttle.”

“Ha. No way I’m putting you out on that river. It’s fixing to flood big time,” she countered. “Sorry you drove all this way, but there’s nothing I can do.”

When I told Matthew the news, he flashed a wide grin to hide his sadness that we wouldn’t be floating for three days in the rain. There was nothing to do but go home. First, we took a look at the Ouachita.

Matthew and I parked under a highway bridge and toasted the Ouachita River river that was rising fast.

“Here’s to a 300 mile trip,” I sighed. “And no float.”

That’s life when you enjoy weather-sensitive pastimes. Sometimes you float, sometimes you don’t.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fputthoff@nwadg.com on on Twitter @NWAFlip

Sports on 03/28/2017