Low Water Mayem on the Arkansas

After a leisurely breakfast and some logistically challenging car shuttling, we put in to the Arkansas River in a 14′ raft and a kayak. Pete, Jess, and David have all spent a lot of time on the Arkansas, and the water is as low as anyone has seen it. ‘Bony’ seems to be the word of the day.

We bounce and scrape along, paddling like mad, now and then getting wedged or pinned on a big rock. Pete regularly jumps out and hauls the boat out of a jam. The freaky moment of the day comes at such a time. I’m jumping up and down to help break us free when I hear Pete yell, “Shit! Dave is under the boat!” Dave has flipped upside-down in his kayak and is trapped beneath us. We’re all stunned for a second, then double our effort to break free. Just as drastic measures are occurring to us, Dave emerges beside us and Ann and Pete pull him in. His body looks limp and scary for a second, but soon he’s animated and yelling, “I’m OK!” Jess hands him a paddle and puts him behind me, his daughter Alex in the middle. With Jess barking out commands we run the rest of the rapid with the kayak under us. At the end it pops out and we pull it into the boat, then run another rapid.

At last we get some flat water to rest in and process the event. No one has experienced anything like it before, and we’re all incredibly relieved it came out OK. We pile up behind some stuck tour boats and portage the kayak past a section where the raft has to be tugged over the rocks on a line. After that David has recovered and gets back into the kayak. We have to line the raft once more, but the rest of the ride is easy by comparison. When we take out it’s almost 7 pm and we’re all smiles, talking about when we can do it again (presumably in higher water).

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5 thoughts on “Low Water Mayem on the Arkansas

  1. the Kern River was at 5231 cfs on Friday. HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE. it’s getting bigger too.

    i still can’t believe you/ann never went up there and rafted with joe. F_U_N. and my flask fits under my life vest so nicely.

    the “under the boat” scenario is a BAD ONE for sure. remember: rocks will hurt you, trees will kill you.

  2. The water got suddenly big here this weekend too. Three people died rafting, though not officially due to higher water volumes.

    We hiked up into the mountains on Sunday, and on the way down a previously dry footbridge was under water.

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