Intro and Opinions Requested...

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Flatliner
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Name: Robert Wittwer

Intro and Opinions Requested...

Post by Flatliner » Mon Dec 07, 2020 1:13 pm

Hi All,

I am a long time canoeist from Nebraska who has mostly adventured in the BWCA. For the FIRST time, my non-outdoorsy wife and our 6 y/o grandaughter have agreed to join me on a spring trip. I REALLY want this to go well so I am thinking about a first Buffalo River trip since:

- It's 4 hours closer
- Spring in the BWCA is a weather crap-shoot and Arkansas will certainly be warmer
- You can't reserve camping spots in the BWCA but can't camp in a non-designated spot.
- Portages suck

My wife is a planner and will need to know details well in advance. I have led group trips annually for a decade so the equipment planning is easy. Date and specific location planning on the other hand I don't really have a frame of reference for. If you were doing an earlier season 3 day/2-night trip where you were taking two totally inexperienced canoeists that you wanted to be sure had a good time, what 2ish week window would you target and what section of the river would you want to tentatively plan on (with the final decision on exact spots being at the time of put in)?

Thanks for the advice.

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rouble
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Re: Intro and Opinions Requested...

Post by rouble » Wed Dec 09, 2020 7:51 pm

This is a common question on the forum. The major downside to planning a trip to the Buffalo compared to BWCA is that the water levels are entirely unpredictable more than a couple weeks in advance due to it being entirely dependent rain. You'll typically have the most options in the spring (March-May) and fall/winter (Oct-Dec) with November on average being the wettest month of the year. I'd highly recommend calling one of the outfitters to help you plan the trip as they'll have the most reliable info.

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Gordon Kumpuris
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Re: Intro and Opinions Requested...

Post by Gordon Kumpuris » Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:36 am

The 2 or 3 weeks before and after Easter are pretty good bets. The lower Buffalo is ideal for what you describe. launch at Tyler Bend and camp on the river. Lots of options. Take out at Rush. Have a plan B however in case of high water. (Low water should not be a problem at that time of year) Often if the Buffalo is too high, other streams will be just fine. The Mulberry River, Kings River, Illinois River and further south the Caddo or Ouachita rivers might be good options. I recommend Crocketts General Store in Harriot as a good outfitter to take care of rentals and shuttles.
Skoboten!

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Gordon Kumpuris
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Re: Intro and Opinions Requested...

Post by Gordon Kumpuris » Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:39 am

By the way..... The last time I used Crocketts I paid with a credit card over the phone and arranged all shuttle details over the phone. I drove straight to the put-in, hid a key at a predetermined spot and my vehicle was waiting for me at the takeout 3 days later. I never laid eyes on anyone from Crocketts. Super easy!
Skoboten!

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Cowper
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Re: Intro and Opinions Requested...

Post by Cowper » Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:51 pm

Planning that far in advance, I'd suggest having a "primary" plan, and a secondary plan. For example, a trip on the lower river (which will almost certainly have enough water), but with an option to switch to the middle or upper river if water is more favorable. There are beautiful bluffs along the way where ever you end up, so it's really not a huge deal one way or another, especially for a first trip. A couple of general tips - DON'T just go to the most upstream point that is floatable that week; if you do, you'll find yourself sharing the river with crowds that are "chasing the good water". By going to the Middle or Lower river IN SPITE OF the fact that the upper river is running, you will greatly reduce the number of people you have to share the river with. Secondly, choosing your campsite requires a little more care, because the river can rise rapidly following rains, possibly even rains upstream when it only drizzled or didn't rain at all where you are camped. The river can rise several feet in an hour, and can rise much further than many would guess. If the weather and forecast say "all clear", you can camp on a low lying gravel bar and have a great experience, not carrying your tent more than a few feet from your boat. But if there is any doubt, then choose a site that backs up to higher ground, and drag your canoe to a point on the gravel bar higher than your tent. This prevents you from joining a rather large group of people who have woken up AFTER their canoe had been swept away, and then barely escaping with their lives as they scrambled for higher ground. How probable is this? Well, looking at the Pruitt gage for the last 365 days, I see seven times when the river rose more than 5 feet relatively rapidly, two of those times it rose more than 10 feet, and one of those times it rose about 20 feet. A river rise of even 10 vertical feet will cover most gravel bars. If one of these rises hits you at night, you'll have a story that you'll tell and retell for the rest of your life (assuming you chose your campsite wisely).
Trash: Get a little every time you go!

Flatliner
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Name: Robert Wittwer

Re: Intro and Opinions Requested...

Post by Flatliner » Sat Jan 23, 2021 10:19 am

Thanks all, Great advice. I will heed all of it and can't wait to experience the Buffalo. After discussion with family it looks like there are TWO spring trips in the offing. The one I mentioned and then one a touch later with my son and two son in laws.

Robert

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