Monday, October 30, 2006

North Canadian River Paddling

North Canadian River
North Canadian River,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.

We headed out looking for vivid displays of Fall color in the rapidly changing foliage in our area.

Saturday, we took a sunset paddling trip onto Okmulgee Lake, the trees are really bursting with color there now. Now that summer is over officially the traffic at the lake has really slowed down.

Sunday, we headed back to the Pierce, Oklahoma area to paddle the North Canadian River. The weather was glorious and the current was faster than our last trip here. The fall color is just starting to show on the sandy, willow-lined banks of this seldom paddled river.

We saw three beavers and several waterfowl very close up and had a close encounter with the ultimate anti-kayak. See my Flickr Photos for more details on the Anti-kayak.

Finding great fall color anywhere? Drop us a comment!

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Red Dirt Paddlers to Visit The Buffalo River

Randy Clemons of Oklahoma's own ACC branch - The Red Dirt Paddlers, emailed me that they may be planning their best canoe and kayaking trip yet.

If you missed their trip down the thrilling Mountain Fork River, don't miss out on their November 3rd - 5th trip down the Buffalo River. Dianne and I have apddled this river either two or three times, but certainly not enough to see it all or tire of this timeless beauty.

The Buffalo River is one of the most scenic rivers in the Ozarks and just a day trip from Oklahoma. For a fascinating book about the history and geology of the Buffalo National River, try Ken Smith's Buffalo River Handbook.

Take your camera if you every visit the Buffalo River, it is well worth the trip.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Deep Fork Bayou - Turtle Haven

Paddling Deep Fork Bayou
Today, I enjoyed about an hour of paddling around on Deep Fork Bayou. You can access this portion of the Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge via a small tank farm road right off Highway 75 South just south of Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

Paddling this tiny body of water is like paddling in a pond, but with more shade than most ponds offer. I saw countless turtles, some cranes and a few fish. The water is muddy, but not as red as the Deep Fork River. From Google Earth, Deep Fork Bayou looks comepletely circular, but you cannot paddling all the way around it at the current water level.

It makes a nice place to do some excercise paddling that is close to town for Okmulgee folks. I'll bet it will be lovely when the Fall colors light up the trees. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Access To Oklahoma's Inland Water Way

Boat Lifter 3
Boat Lifter 3,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.
At the confluence of the Arkansas, Verdigris and Grand Rivers is an area historically known as 'The Three Forks' since the 1700s.

Three Forks Harbor is immediately south of the east end of the U.S. Highway 62 bridge in Muskogee, Oklahoma. We stopped by on our way back from paddling in Tahlequah. It offers a marina, boat launch and large mobile boat lifter. This makes it a popular fueling and jump-off spot for northeastern Oklahoma recreational boaters to access the rest of the Mississippi River system and the inland water way.

Three Forks Harbor's marina has two floating docks with 58 covered slips accommodating vessels ranging from day cruisers to bass boats and houseboats. A 110-ton travel lift is available to move larger boats in and out of the water. The marina provides a 24-hour floating ships store and fuel dock with three pumps.

Monday, October 09, 2006

White River Kayak Race - Calico Rock, AR

Calico Rock Arkansas Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring its first Kayak Race Oct. 14. Calico Rock is about 254 miles west of Tulsa and lies right on the banks of the famous White River.

At 2 p.m. racers will leave from Lindsey’s Boat Dock on the White River, race downstream, and end at the Calico Rock Bridge. One race will be for individuals and a second for 2-person crews. Each race has a first prize of $250.

Spectators can watch the race from the Calico Rock Access, the River Road or the White River Bridge.

The entry fee is $30 for each kayak. For a race application or more information, call (870) 297-4129 or stop by the Chamber office on Main Street, Calico Rock Arkansas. Deadline for entry applications is Saturday.

The Kayak Race is part of the chamber’s Fall Festival which starts with a 5K race at 9 a.m. and continues with food, music, crafts, art show and other activities beginning at noon in Rand Park (Highways 5 and 56).

Our White River Kayaking Outfitters List.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Elephant Rock Nature Park - Illinois River Camping

What a great weekend! Dianne and I had a blast paddling the Illinois River and then enjoyed the night at cool new campground. Rod and Susan Foster invited us to Elephant Rock Nature Park, you can check out the pictures in my Elephant Rock Nature Park Flickr Set. I have passed their sign many times, but I never took the time to drive up the hill and see the place. We have been missing out on a great Illinois River resource for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Elephant Rock is one of the most widely recognized landmarks on the Illinois River. I think I got a pretty good picture of it. It looks like an elephant to me. What do you think?

Anyone who has read our blog for long, knows that Dianne and I love paddling the Illinois River. Spending the night in some of the Illinois River campgrounds has been a goal of ours for sometime now. Usually, we grab a cabin somewhere quietly hidden away from the summer Illinois River party scene. Elephant Rock Nature Park offered us something more exotic...a Yurt deep in the woods!

What's A Yurt

The Mongolian yurt is a round, usually portable, self-supporting structure designed for camping in comfort. Rather than relying on ropes or stakes to hold itself up, the walls, rafters, roof ring, and tensioning bands all work against each other to keep the structure standing. It is handy structure for camping because all of the interior space is useful living space with no space wasted on tent poles or low sides. The basic yurt collapses down into pieces no longer than 8 feet, so you can chuck it into the back of a truck.

The yurts at Elephant Rock have been highly customized to offer all of the comforts of home: refrigerator, stove, A/C, heat, toilet, shower, everything even the kitchen sink... literally. After our invigorating 14 mile paddle down the Illinois River (concluded with a dramatic backwards, toes-in-the-air, fall on my part while attempting to exit the kayak), we were grateful for a comfy night's sleep. Their yurt did not disappoint.

The Nature Park

The owners of Elephant Rock Nature Park do some volunteer wild animal rehab. We met two deer that they had taken in when they were too tiny to take care of themselves. Now the two deer, June and July, roam the yard at their house playing with guests and the family cat. I scratched a wild baby deer between the ears, it was quite an experience!

The park is a 120-acre hardwood and pine forest, right on the river, criss-crossed with well-marked nature trails and tent camping sites. This is over-night river lodging (no RV's) for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts that seems a million miles away from the pavement and parties, but in fact is a short drive to from the Tahlequah Wal-Mart. Best of all, Elephant Rock camp stays open all-year-long so you can enjoy the truly great outdoor seasons in Oklahoma: Spring and Fall.

The Illinois River

The water level was up just enough to make the journey from No Head Hollow to the Highway Bridge with only one portage. The one portage was a few steps on the gravel bar due to a downed tree in an area where the current wasn't very swift. With the water level this high, I'll bet you could make the whole trip from Chewey Bridge to the Highway Bridge in two days easily with little portaging. Better get on this water soon, before it is gone again!

Stop by sometime and meet Rod and Susan Foster at Elephant Rock Nature Park, whether you are looking for tent camping , yurts, canoes, kayaks or shuttling...they offer a uniquely, earth-friendly, family-friendly alternative to the familiar Illinois River camping scene.

Next time I get a free moment, I'll tell you about the side trip we made on the way the Port of Muskogee.