Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Need of an Adventure

I'm in desperate need of some kind of adventure.  Been way too long since I was able to get out and face some kind of outdoor challenge.  Other than an occasional day outing or maybe hiking across Oklahoma's Tallgrass Prairie on a photo safari, the last real adventure of any length I had was a multi day float / camp / fishing trip down Arkansas's Buffalo River about three years ago.  I love that place.  It's one of the few places in that area where you can experience a near wilderness adventure...at least for a few days anyway.

Arkansas's Buffalo River is one of the few rivers that remains intact from its source, the Boston Mountains in the Ozarks, to its end, the White River toward the north central part of the state.  Over one hundred and fifty miles of scenic splendor like 500 foot bluffs, clear water, magnificent night skies, wildlife, and heavily wooded Ozark country side   On the upper end you'll encounter faster moving currents and some pretty good rapids along the way especially if the river is running at optimal levels.  Over the course of its length, the river's personality changes and the current further down is characterized by slower moving currents and longer pools.

The fishing is usually pretty good with lots of smallmouth bass, Kentucky bass, and assorted other creek related swimming critters.  The closer you get to the White River, you might even tie into a rainbow trout as the White is one of the best trout fisheries in the country and they tend to migrate a few miles up the Buffalo.

Over the years, some of my hunting and fishing buddies and I have made numerous trips down the Buffalo.  We pack all our gear into our canoes...spot a vehicle at the takeout...and shove off.  Most of our trips run about three days or so, but we've made trips up to five days on the river.  It's a great adventure.

Sometimes the weather doesn't co-operate and we've been caught several times on the river during an Ozark thunderstorm and downpour.  Sure makes for an interesting adventure when that happens.  I've rarely been able to capture the Buffalo photographically at least in the way I know is possible.  Mostly because of time and weather not always coordinating with each other.  But, I never fail to at least make the attempt for there is no shortage of opportunity...it's just a matter of combining the opportunity with the right kind of light.

One of my favorite places on the river is the area called Skull Bluff.  Actually its an area that extends several miles upriver from Woolum, to Skull Bluff, to the Nar's.  The Nar's is a unique geological formation where two separate river systems, Richland Creek and the Buffalo, have eroded both sides of a ridge to where a narrow slit or wall of rock maybe 150 feet high separates the two sides.  If you're brave enough, you can climb up the ridge from down stream and work your way over to the narrow wall and walk out on to it.  I've done it a time or two, but will probably never do it again as I'm not as brave as I was in my younger years...or maybe I've gotten a bit wiser...in either case...I've had thrill enough of standing on that four foot wide ledge and seeing nothing but air straight to the bottom broken by a few tree limbs.  I did catch the largest smallmouth I've ever caught at the base of the Nar's.  A nice, deep, pool swirls around where the rock wall climbs skyward from the water, and grandaddy smallmouth bass tend to prowl around in its depths.

Of the friends I've floated the Buffalo with, two of them are gone now.  Although they are no longer able to make those floats, the memories of the times we had still pleasantly linger.  Those stories are told over and over again when the rest of us do manage to regroup, and share a few days of adventure...I think I'll give them a call soon and see what kind of adventure we can conjure up...like I said...It's been way to long.

(Would love hear about your adventures...)

Keith Bridgman

1 comment:

David Fields said...

Keith,
Been there, done that as well...down the White and Norfork as well...several years ago. I too have some very fond memories etched away of a friend "gone home." All the best...great work.

David