Put In: Wolf Pen Access
Take Out: Redding Campground
River Conditions: ~ 600 CFS
Put In: Redding Campground
Take Out: Campbell’s Cemetery
River Conditions: ~ 1200 CFS
Put In: Campbell’s Cemetery
Take Out: Mill Creek
River Conditions: ~900 CFS
Gage at Mulberry:
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/uv/?s ... 0065,00060
Along on this trip: Earl, Amy, Jacob, & Zachary Atnip and 20 other members of the DDRC
This is an annual Easter weekend trip I make with the DDRC to the Mulberry River in Arkansas. This time of year the dogwoods are just starting to bloom and temps starting to warm. This year Easter was a little early so the dogwoods were not in bloom and the temps a little cooler. The group camps at the Redding campground and does just day trips on various sections of the river each day.
I arrived very early Thursday AM after some heavy rains in the area and got a couple hours of sleep before the group decided to make the trip from Wolf Pen access back down to the campground, about a 12 mile paddle. The rains had brought the river up a bit so there was some nice flow. This is a fun section of river with mostly class I with maybe one class II but some nice twists and turns. I brought my play boat for this stretch and left my camera at camp. We were all on the water by 11 and off by 3:30 with a short stop for lunch. I made me some pasta for dinner and my wife and the twins showed up about 8pm. The record floods from Dec 2015 made some changes in the river cleaning up and replenishing many gravel bars and also depositing some logs.
The night temps dropped into the upper 20s to low 30s so people were slow to get moving. I had pre-maid about 26 breakfast burritos so breakfast was just heat and serve. The day was partly cloudy but expecting full sun later with much warmer temps. Our stretch of river for the day would be to put in where we were camped at Redding and paddle down to Campbell’s Cemetery about 15 miles downriver. Since my wife would be joining me I used my 16 ft. inflatable SOAR canoe. I wanted her to be able to sit back and relax and enjoy the ride and take some pictures. After we got the shuttles run we got on the water about 11am. First thing my wife noticed was the camera was not working. I put in what I thought were fresh batteries but that was not the case as I forgot to throw out the last set of dead ones. Then on the very first ripple “rapid” I changed plans and turned the boat to avoid a rock and instead hit the rock sideways. Plop out went my wife into the river. It was only 8 inches deep so she did not get totally wet but she did brace her fall with her hand and broke some nails which I continued to hear about for the day and one finger swelled up. Okay, so first 5 minutes I have failed both primary goals for the day, pictures and relaxing trip for my wife.
The river had a good pace to it and we got on past the Hwy 23 bridge then pulled over on river left for some lunch. After lunch we made our way down to a place where the river takes a hard right then a hard left and in years past has always been a challenge as it is swift and the turns usually catch some logs. Well, this year was no different. The recent floods had pushed two root balls into the turns and they are hard to see until you enter the first turn. When we arrived we could see boats pulled out and arms’ waving so we knew something was up. One member of our group had hit one of the root balls and pinned her boat. She managed to wet exit and had did not get pinned herself. Several of us reviewed the situation and decided that getting a rope on the boat was going to be very difficult as the boat was submerged and there was no safe way to get to the root ball as it was in the middle of the river and very deep and swift. After reviewing it I noticed the root ball was fluttering a bit in the current and proposed lassoing the top of the root ball then see if we could use that leverage to roll that root ball and free the boat. After standing precariously on a pile of loose deadwood in the river and making several attempts at lassoing I gave up and handed the rope to someone else. A few minutes later they got the rope on and several began pulling and the root ball rotated enough and the kayak popped out of there and floated on down river. My wife and I gave her a ride down river to intercept her boat and she got in and paddle the rest of the day, a bit shaken but not deterred.
A few more rapids and some fun on the river and we arrived at Campbell’s about 5pm. After we got all 22 boats loaded up we were on our way back to camp to start our potluck dinner and relax. I made Dutch oven lasagna with salad and garlic bread. There were many other dishes and plenty of food.
This days run is from Campbell’s Cemetery down to Mill creek near I40. In order to do this run you have to start early as the shuttle is 1.5hrs but the trip is worth it as the rapids are a real hoot. With the water being up I felt pretty sure we would have some swimmers especially in the rapid called “wrecking rock”. My boat of choice for the day was my Ocean Kayak Trident so I could race downriver pull out and get set up in the rapids for some great photos and action shots. We pulled out of Campbell’s about 11:30am. I pulled out in one rapid with some good wave trains and got pictures of our fist swimmer. Even a good very experience friend of mine got sideways in this rapid and over she went and saw her attempting flip back several times then she had to do a wet exit.
After a few good rapids it was time for lunch then on to wrecking rock. I got down and set up and was not disappointed we had 3 swimmers and some great shots. The rapid is not that difficult you just have to be on your game and know that the big obvious rock is just a distraction as there is another rock that is just about a boat length past it which is just under the surface and waiting on you. The current will push you straight to it and on top of it unless you are actively working ahead to avoid it. The rest of the trip was a lot of fun with no more swimmers for the day. I saw a bald eagle and got some shots on some very pretty stretches of river.
Everyone was off the river by 5pm and back to camp for another pot luck dinner. I cooked a Dutch oven King Ranch Chicken casserole and a Dutch oven apple snicker doodle. After dinner we collected everyone photos and videos and sat around a fire with a projector on a sheet and had a hoot going through all the action from the past two days. Great people, great times, great river, and great food.
Here is a large sample of the 301 pictures I took in one day.
Jake and Zach back at camp eating as they always do
Getting ready for the day
Jake coming through first one
Where is the boat and paddler?
Zach on the first one
First on a series, keep watching
Well that was nice
Over she goes
Gavin popping wheelies
Jake going for a swim
Randy going around the tree
Todd paddling Randy’s boat
Anita making a nice recovery
Austin inspecting wrecking rock
Allen approaches wrecking rock
And he found it
Todd missed the rock
Nadiene watch out for that
And the flush
Getting some help
Go back Susan, you missed the rock
Randy is so smoooooth on a river
I am proud of Todd
And Todd is proud too
All lined up
In she goes
A bald on the river
Anita catching me
Gavin popping one
He recovers for a moment
Then spins a move
https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... sp=sharing
Our tracks down the river for last two days