Our day kicked off with water analysis as the alligator gar fed in the shallows near our boat.  The river has dropped significantly as our canoe, the Cricket, sits landlocked on the shore.  Yesterday the dam was generating electricity which raised the water level sending the fish and waterfowl into a feeding frenzy. Today the flow has slowed and the river is pristine and peaceful.

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Warming up for the day ahead. Photo by Braxton Barden.

We eat a quick breakfast and head downstream. The first meander of the river gives a view most only experience on television. There were four immature bald eagles and fish crow standing on the sandbar enjoying a meal together. Their meal, a Smallmouth Buffalo, was stranded by the dropping river.   With the abundance of wildlife sighted, the Arkansas River is a rich fishery able to sustain a variety of animals.

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Sandbar Treasures. Photo by John Ruskey.

We continue on into a headwind enjoying the diverse habitat, as we paddle through sloughs and bayous getting out of the canoe to explore occasionally.  The river meanders continue to change giving us a different element around every bend. Our canoe is starting to fill up with skeletons of animals that we continue to find while exploring. We have skeletons of all types-catfish, deer, turtles, and feral hogs.

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A slight return to Buck Island. Photo by John Ruskey.

We end the day with a water analysis and a hearty stew to replenish the vitamins and minerals depleted during the paddle. The fire feels good to my soul as I drink ginger tea and fill my belly with great food, but my sleeping bag calls my name and I’m off to bed. Mark River

 

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