Friday, November 24, 2006

Caddo River Trip Report

This Thanksgiving Holiday won't include any paddling for our family due to the unexpected arrival of Cold & Flu season. I started sneezing about 3 days ago and now the whole family is down with the sickness.

Thankfully Al from OKC, one of our loyal blog readers, was kind enough to send in a paddling trip report from nearby Caddo Gap, Arkansas.

Hi Thomas:
Donna and I made a quick run over to Caddo Gap, Arkansas a couple of weeks ago and I thought I'd drop you a line about it in case you hadn't been there yet. It's pretty easy to get to... just an hour and a half straight south of Van Buren. The river was a bit boney at this time of year but still kayakable (a solid class 2 with lots of short shallow rapids).

I had never experienced willow strainers like they have there and it was quite different. We covered about 5 miles or a bit more on the river and probably dealt with about 15 strainers. As we approached each one, we'd have to listen and look carefully to see which way the river diverted (right or left). With a little practice, we got pretty good atreading the water flow after determining that the ONLY way around each strainer was to take the path of least resistance and fastest flow.

Each set of rapids involved a short burst of about 50-75 yards always on asharp curve and mild drop in elevation followed by a stretch of flat water to reorient the kayak and relax for a while. I imagine the rapids would be a bit easier with spring rains as there wouldn't be quite as many large rocks to hang up on. Even so, it was a pretty nice experience and provided us somewhere different to go although not quite as scenic as Lower Mountain Fork.

The one major drawback was a lack of really nice lodging. We rented a pleasant and clean but fairly old cabin right on the river bank and across the road from an outfitter in Caddo Gap (Caddo River Cottage). I will say it was convenient being able to chain the kayak to a tree at the rivers edge and not load and unload it a lot.

The outfitter across the road will portage you upstream ($10) with your kayak or canoe for a short 1 mile float home or will lead you to his pick-up on the river in Henderson (I think that's the right town name) a few miles down river to park your vehicle and bring you back to put in at the cabin (20). We did both over the two days. Overall, it was a pretty good weekend away and the river was a new challenge for building our skills.

By the way, although the air temp was about 70 at the time, the waterwas about 50 so I was glad we brought dry-suits. Even with that, we were a bit chilled by the end of the long run. As a result, I just got Donna a full body front zip wet suit and scuba boots to keep her warm and dry through fall kayaking.

Well, that's it for this report. Might hit the Canadian by Overholser this weekend for some exercise now that we had a little rain. Can't wait til spring or for a really nice weekend. We'd like to go run part of the Buffalo River in Ark. if we can. Looks like a really scenic area. Unfortunately, all the really nice cabins on the Buffalo were full last time so we chose the Caddo instead.

I'm looking into another visit to Puerto Rico for March and there's supposed to be one really scenic river over there. We've already kayaked a luminescent lagoon and bay in Fajardo, PR. and it was a total blast. -- Al

Wow, Puerto Rico...that sounds fantastic Al! I'll be stuck at home until my family manages to get healthy enough to paddle again, but you can bet I'll only have one thing on my mind until then!

Kayaking Girl - Women's Tank Top
Kayaking Girl Tank Top

Got a great Oklahoma area paddling trip report you would like to share? Send me an email or leave a comment on the blog.

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