Our friend, John, and I have talked every year about floating the Buffalo River, and particularly the “Ponca to Kyle’s Landing” segment. John and Sandy came to their bluff house from Memphis on Wednesday, and John and I made plans to paddle the Buffalo pending amenable river stages. A quick check of the internet showed river stages at an optimum level, and we both began collecting and organizing our paddling gear—no small feat.
The timing worked out great for me as Kay left Friday to babysit new grandson, Ridge, through Sunday. She enjoys spending time with him immensely, and I bet she’s an awesome grandmother! She says he has a great disposition, is very alert, and enjoys all the sights and sounds around him. She posts pictures on Facebook on a regular basis.
I picked John up just after 7 AM on Friday morning, we arrived at Ponca about 9:30 AM, and we made arrangements for a shuttle to Kyle’s Landing. We dumped John’s whitewater canoe at the low water bridge at Steele Creek, and were on the river by 10 AM. I began in the stern with John in the bow, but our paddling techniques are different, and we switched after our first few riffles resulting in a much better combination. We really enjoyed the blooming dogwood trees, and the few remaining redbud trees still in blossom. The long, high bluffs along the river were awesome, and the occasional waterfall was spectacular.
Surprisingly, we observed few other canoes and kayaks on the river, even though optimum river levels and great temperatures prevailed. Despite stopping frequently, we made great time, and looked forward to Hemmed-In Hollow, and the 200-foot waterfall.
As we neared where we thought the trailhead was supposed to be, we noticed the remains of a cabin on the left descending bluff, realizing we had gone a half mile too far.
We paddled upstream, attempting to go through the rapids, but were unable to maneuver the canoes over the shallow shoal, and opted to give up on seeing Hemmed-In Hollow.
We debated and reversed our decision and once again paddled upstream, disembarking to walk the canoe through the shoal, and continued to paddle upstream to the next rapids where we decided to walk the river bank and gravel bar to find the trailhead. Fortunately, it was only about 50 yards upstream, and easily accessible.
We hiked into Hemmed-In Hollow, a moderate hike of about a half mile, stopping frequently for to take pictures of wildflowers, shown at the bottom of this blog entry. We saw several small waterfalls along the way. At the end of the canyon, we were awarded with the tallest waterfall between the Smoky Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. The photo shows John in the lower right center. We lingered at the falls for several minutes and made our way back down the trail to the canoe, again stopping to take photos along the way. We were both glad we opted to return upstream to see the falls. The rest of the trip was anticlimactic, though we did enjoy paddling through a couple of Class III rapids. We took out at Kyle’s Landing, loaded the canoe, and made our way back home. The Buffalo River is truly one of God’s many gifts to us, and we’re fortunate to be close enough to enjoy it. Wow, what a way to end the week.
Back at home, a message from Kay indicated that Home Depot had cypress mulch on sale for the unprecedented price of $1.27 per bag. Her phone call was a slight nudge for me to hightail it to town and buy mulch. Guess we know what’s in store for tomorrow.