When I was in junior high or high school and was in the boy scouts our troop, #382, took a float trip on the Buffalo River. This was our second 50 mile experience, a few years earlier we hike from Little Rock to Hot Springs along the Old Hot Springs Highway.
I forget exactly where we put in, but the plan was to float from there on down to where the Buffalo met the White River and then on down the White River somewhere below Calico Rock – always loved the name of that town.
Anyway, it was a nice summer day when we put our canoes in the water on a very calm part of the river. Mike Wood was my partner in the bow of the canoe.
Just a short float from putting in we hit our first rapid. The river split into two channels, separating around an old railroad trestle. Mike and I stuck to the right and barely missed the trestle. After we made it through the rapid the water was not nearly so swift. But, it was fast enough for stuff to float by, and soon it did. First, a pack and then a sleeping bag! Yep, someone had swamped. We started to collect the stuff and look for little heads sticking out of life jackets. We didn’t see any so we beached the canoe and hiked up stream.
There we encountered a fiberglass canoe that was broken in half stuck near the trestle and an aluminum canoe wrapped around the concrete pillar like a candy wrapper.
Seemed that Frank Hart and his partner didn’t make it far enough to the right!
The other event of the trip was a rain storm on the White River just below Calico Rock. In those days our sleeping bags were filled with polyester stuffing and flannel lined. Most of them were red or plaid on the inside and green cotton on the outside. They were practically useless in the rain. The other downside was the next morning the troop woke up with an outbreak of the “red man” disease. Seems all the red linings had stained our bare chests and legs red after they got wet.
Right after that rain storm all kinds of things were floating down the river. Bentley, who was addicted to Coca Cola and had not had one for a week saw a Coke box floating down the river. He ed permission to fetch it. Mr. Tenney told him to put his life jacket off and in he went. Of course he and the Coke disappeared around the bend. We hopped in the flat bottom with the motor, the bonehead (Mr.Tenney and his nickname for us scouts) craft and headed down river to fetch Bentley. We found him, but the Coke box had been empty when he found it.
We also crossed the river and went caving. There were hundreds of bats on the ceiling of the opening and when we left the cave they starting swarming, what adventure.
All things considered it was a great trip and the first of many float trips to follow.