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Spring River Beginners Trip - May 13-15

Submitted by Mary Hugo

 The weekend of May 13-15, 2016 found 8 of us headed to Hardy, Arkansas and the Spring River for a chance to practice basic kayaking skills.  Jimmy Burkeen and Mike Watson did a great job leading us through a variety of skills including different strokes and tips for reading the river.   We camped at Riverside Resort.  Chris Hugo got us permission to use the lake at Mammoth Springs Saturday morning.  We started with a few tips lakeside and then had the perfect place to practice the basic strokes and eddy turns before moving to the river in the afternoon. 


After a picnic lunch by the lake we shuttled up to Dam 3 and had great weather as we paddled down to our campsite.  The Spring River has a number of turns with swift water and small falls so it is a great place to practice.  Sunday morning we paddled from the campsite to the Spring River Oaks take out, trying out our skills on Saddler Falls and Dead Man’s Curve.  We spotted one boat submerged at the bottom of one of the falls, wedged in a hole and another wrapped around a rock in fast moving water.  A somber reminder how important it is to watch for obstacles and scout your path as you move down the river. 


One of the best parts about this type of trip was to be able to go down the river slowly, stopping before each rapid or waterfall. Jimmy and Mike would explain what to look for as you decide what route to take.  The pace also allowed us to stop occasionally to practice those eddy turns and the strokes needed to move forward, back, left, right and across (ferrying) when needed. 


We discussed logistics (front end and back end shuttles), safety tips such as what you should have with you on the river and practiced a bit with throw ropes.   We found out which of us had boats that did well when hitting higher waves and which of us are now eager to buy a skirt for their kayaks!


The weather cooperated beautifully both days by the time we were on the water.  The low was 43 Saturday night and initially had a threat of rain on Sunday.  We were entertained with a bald eagle sighting along with muskrats, 3 snakes, several groundhogs and the usual collection of beautiful Great Blue Herons.  All in all a very successful BCCC trip focused on improving members’ skills on the water!


Paddlers were:  Jimmy Burkeen, Mike Watson, Beth Hoople, Ross Mead, Kelly Sziraky, September Young, Chris & Mary Hugo

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