Sunday, June 21, 2009
Our Upper Mountain Fork River Trip
River Ranch Cabin is nestled in the Oklahoma 'mountains'. Southeastern Oklahoma is more mountainous and forested than any other part of the state. The roads that lead to Smithville, Oklahoma reminded me on the switchback-laden three lane highways of Colorado. You have to watch out for logging trucks, but it is well worth it to see the amazing vistas of the Ouachita National Forest and the Kiamichi mountains.
The single one-bedroom cabin at River Ranch Cabin sits on over a hundred acres of solitude fronted by a half mile section of the Upper Mountain Fork River. This river resort offers the most exclusive luxuries on market: solitude and comfort amongst breathtaking natural beauty. I'm sure it was the spacious indoor Jacuzzi that attracted Dianne's attention to this cabin. That gal is drawn to hot tubs, like a moth to the flame! However, we both knew she would end up spending very little time in the Jacuzzi as soon as we saw the 'swimming hole' at River Ranch Cabin.
The Upper Mt. Fork River is quite different from the Lower Mt. Fork River we are accustomed to kayaking in. The water in the Upper Mt. Fork River is much warmer than in the lower river. In my opinion, the Lower Mountain Fork River is almost too cold for swimming. The rocky, pool and drop descents of the two rivers are similar, but we didn't see the Cypress trees and Spanish Moss that we normally see on the lower river.
Swimming at the private gravel bar 'swimming hole' at River Ranch Cabin means you see no one else. We swam about five hours a day all weekend and we never saw a hiker, boater, fisherman...anyone! The crystal clear waters are teaming with fish, deer are plentiful and the grounds are well mowed. The spacious 'swimming hole' is actually quite long, but since it is a narrow bit of river you can always find some shady water to take a break from the sun. A gas grill stands nearby so you don't even have to return to the cabin for lunch. The gravel bar also makes an excellent place to launch kayaks from.
Once it gets dark, Dianne and I were willing to return to what was easily the nicest cabin we have ever stayed in. The first thing I noticed when we entered the cabin was a lovely homemade cake resting under glass. The lady made cake for us! Dianne was impressed by how new everything was in the cabin and rushed in straight to see the tub. It is a beauty and elegantly placed in the large bathroom. My attention was captured by the truly world-class cooling system. Heat pump, digital thermostat and more ceiling fans than I have ever seen a single home, much less a one bedroom cabin! I counted two in the living room, two in the kitchen, one in the bedroom and two on the back porch for goodness sakes!
Everything about the cabin was perfect from the location right down to the smallest details. Although American Whitewater will tell you that the river is only runnable after local rains, we enjoyed paddling for quite a ways around the cabin even late in June. However, I must confess that the heat of the summer had us much more focused on swimming than we were on kayaking during our visit to River Ranch Cabin in Smithville, OK.
Looking for a kayaking shirt to beat the summer heat? This weekend I tried Under Armour Heatgear and it really works! I wore this black shirt in the blazing heat and sun and found it to be wonderfully cool. try one yourself sometime: Under Armour Heatgear.