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Buffalo National River

My brother is getting married this fall, and instead of a traditional bachelor party, decided to go on a kayak trip in the Buffalo National River Park in the Ozarks of Arkansas

My brother is getting married this fall, and instead of a traditional bacchanalia bachelor party, he decided to go on a kayak trip in the Buffalo National River Park in the Ozarks of Arkansas. I flew in Thursday night, and we left at 6 am the next morning headed toward Gilbert, Arkansas, about ten hours from Austin. We spent the first night camped along the Buffalo River,  checked into a nice, cozy cabin for the next two nights, then drove back to Austin. I left for home the next afternoon, only having enough time to eat delicious brisket at Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, TX.

America’s First National River Established in 1972, Buffalo National River flows freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states. Once you arrive, prepare to journey from running rapids to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as you cruise through the Ozark Mountains down to the White River.

(click here to continue reading Buffalo National River – Buffalo National River.)

Here are a few photos I took – my camera (and phone) both got wet on the first day out on the river because I wasn’t careful enough. The camera turned out only to need a new battery, but my phone hasn’t yet recovered. 

Buffalo River
Buffalo River

Hipstamatic photo – the only iPhone photo I uploaded before my phone (accidentally) got wet. I meant to leave the phone behind in our cabin, but mistakenly put it in the wrong backpack. Doh! Didn’t notice it was soaked through until the next morning when I was looking for it to call home. Double Doh!

Andrew - Buffalo National River
Andrew – Buffalo National River

My brother convinced most of us to grow a mustache (66% compliance).

Loaded Up - Ready to Party
Loaded Up – Ready to Party

An inside joke: based on something said to Sean at Costco, this phrase became the unofficial theme of the trip.

Manville in the Early Morning
Manville in the Early Morning
Somewhere outside of Austin at the ungodly hour we left. I am not a morning person, thus don’t get many photos of sunrises. Manville was also an amusing coincidence – six dudes in a van, you know how that goes.

Rolling
Rolling

somewhere on the highway. Probably still in north Texas. I modified the photo to look more like a classic Kodachrome snapshot.

Buffalo River - Gilbert AR
Buffalo River – Gilbert AR

the site of our first night campground. A bit rocky, but I had a sleeping pad at least. Sean told us that in the Army, the pads were called “puss pads” which he claimed was not meant to be derogatory. But of course, this phrase also became fodder for jokes.

First Night's Camp Site - Buffalo River AR
First Night’s Camp Site – Buffalo River AR

Low Spot - Buffalo River AR
Low Spot – Buffalo River AR

Ready to Unload
Ready to Unload 

We parked a bit from our campsite as the ground was quite soft. The next morning, I got stuck for a moment, and everyone had to get out and push the van out of a rut.

Eked Out
Eked Out

Beer Me
Beer Me

a constant refrain. As a group, we probably went through a couple hundred beers over the entire weekend, even though I mostly drank wine out on the kayak. Hot wine, at that. We also brought some Knob Creek bourbon whiskey, and a couple bottles of “fighting” tequila1

Morning Coffee
Morning Coffee

swapping tales of who slept the best/worst. I actually ended up sleeping under the stars, on my “puss pad”, on a section of relatively soft sand. Marty also slept outside of a tent, but for some reason, decided to sleep on an incline. Sean slept in a tire rut, Andrew slept in between two large rocks, and so on. The stars were beautiful and bright once the moon set, and there were hardly any bugs feasting on my flesh.

Morning Sun in Gilbert AR
Morning Sun in Gilbert AR

the average temperature was near, or above 100º F.

Santa Fe Breakfast Corn Pudding by Packit Gourmet
Santa Fe Breakfast Corn Pudding by Packit Gourmet

Sean supplied the food for the trip, several delicious meals from PackitGourmet. He didn’t think he needed to bring utensils and plates for everyone though, on the first night and first morning, we had to share. Marty found him an “eating rock”, but we convinced him that the potential for giardia was more of a concern.

Drying Dew off the Tents (not a euphemism)
Drying Dew off the Tents (not a euphemism)

Buffalo River Sunlight
Buffalo River Sunlight

Gilbert AR
Gilbert AR

population 33. Unsurprisingly, everyone seemed to know each other.

Buffalo River Bluff
Buffalo River Bluff

Cabin Number 5 - Gilbert AR
Cabin Number 5 – Gilbert AR

We were able to check in to our cabin at around 8 AM. Quaint, with a decent shower, stove, even pots and pans. 4 beds and two couches.

Cabin 5 - Gilbert AR
Cabin 5 – Gilbert AR

Post Office Gilbert Ark
Post Office Gilbert Ark

General Store - Gilbert AR
General Store – Gilbert AR

the outfitter who owned the cabins. Lucas thought the owner resembled Dr. Phil. When Lucas went to check in, the owner said, “Wait, but how are you doing this mornin’?”

Life Preservers
Life Preservers

The outfitters dropped us off six miles upstream, supplied us with kayaks, life preservers, and an onion sack for trash. Nobody in our group used the life preservers as the river was so shallow. We talked to a native of the area later, and she said the river hadn’t been this low since the 1950’s.


“Ice” Harper

Marty - Buffalo National River
Marty – Buffalo National River

Did You See Me Jump From That Cliff?
Did You See Me Jump From That Cliff?

another inside joke – some kid asked Lucas, earnestly, “Hey, Mister Mustache, did you see me jump off that cliff? Fifteen feet!

Starbuck aka Mister Moustache
Starbuck aka Mister Moustache

Sean aka Chawn, Chawn
Sean aka Chawn, Chawn

Paddle Wars
Paddle Wars


“moist” brisket – Black’s

bonus, before my plane ride home…

Footnotes:
  1. another inside joke, of course []

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