I used to do a lot of canoeing and kayaking in my younger years but once I got married and started having kids, it got shuffled off to the side though it has always lurked in the back of the mind. With one child aged nine and the other three, we decided it was time to get back on the water. Since neither my wife or kids had ever been on an overnight canoe trip, we opted to do a gentle low mileage trip on the Buffalo River in NW Arkansas along with my mother-in-law (also new to boating) and parents.
We put the two kids in the middle of my parents boat and the MIL in the middle of the boat paddled by myself and my wife. To increase the enjoyment of the trip, we taught my wife some of the fundamental steering strokes for paddling at the front of a canoe the night before.
Day one went well. By the time we drove to the area of the river we wanted to float, did our own vehicle shuttle and loaded up the canoes, it was late morning before we set out but it was a nice sunny, albeit a bit windy day. We stopped for lunch and then a bit later at the confluence of the Little Buffalo and Buffalo Rivers. The picture at the top of this post shows the confluence. It is beautiful country for sure.
The river is spring and rain fed and because it has been dry of late, it was shallow in most areas and we definitely scraped quite a bit especially at the heads of the shallow rapids we encountered. Because we only opted to go 11 miles over two days, we were looking for a campsite by early afternoon and above we had beached our canoes to check out this large gravel and sandbar on the inside of a river curve. We decided it was a go and unloaded the boats.
Between all of us, we had two self supporting dome tents and one little flashlight tent seen above which isn't self supporting. In other words, it relies on stakes to maintain tension to keep it upright. The two domes tents were set up but due to the wind, required weight in them to stay put. I tried setting up the flashlight tent in the sand but there just wasn't enough support for the stakes to keep it in place. After trying various things, I moved it to gravel closer to the river and made piles of gravel over the stakes to hold it in place. That worked better but all afternoon, I would occasionally have to go restake part of it that had come unstaked in the a high gust of wind. The girls and my parents all crammed into the two larger domed tents leaving me all by my lonesome in the flashlight tent as we bedded down for the night. As it turned out, that was for the best but more on that in another post.