Big Island is a spectacular deep-delta haven for writers, photographers and other creative-types concerning paddling the Lower Mississippi River!

Today is a a special day, we will see the confluence of the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers . We rise from our tents in good spirits well rested from the evening of storms and high winds for our last day on the Arkansas River. The day is pristine as everything looks as if been washed clean by the storm.

Our campsite is full of water, except the mounds of sand where our tents were pitched. Taking a moment I observe our campsite and marvel at the absorption properties of sand. There are two reasons that I feel such a connection with this area of the river, it’s covered on three sides by driftwood and has a panoramic view of the Arkansas River. With the surrounding natural beauty and the historical significance of being the home to the Quapaw, I named it Quapaninsula. The Quapaws called the Mississippi River valley between the St. Francis and Arkansas River home.

 

Quapaninsula Camp Photo by Braxton Barden

Quapaninsula Camp Photo by Braxton Barden

Everyone takes off for a day of exploring as the sun peaks above the trees. I sit in the piles of driftwood looking at fine pieces of art throughout the asymmetrical pilings, occasionally changing my seating arrangement to view the piles at a different angle. My imagination takes over as I scan over the pile, images of animals and people flash through my mind as my imagination runs wild. I start to think about how this mysterious place was formed. The scarred standing willows worn by driftwood colliding against them as they floated around the bend. The sand mounds, which we camped upon, were formed by an eddy created between the trees slowing the water down and dropping silt. Ten months of the year, this site is flooded and mosquito ridden. Beaver scat covered the swampy areas and the dead fish picked clean by the scavengers. Fifteen to twenty feet in the air, you can see where the beavers stood to feed on the willows, letting me know this area is underwater most of the year.

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Mark River Fun. Photo by Braxton Barden

 

 

The team slowly makes their way back to the camp as we start breakfast. We hear great news as our plight with the Mississippi Tax Commission has moved on from the House and Senate and is headed for the Governor’s desk. We celebrate as the sun’s rays make the willows steam creating a fog throughout the forest. The rain last night has triggered the leaves of the willows to green. The forest seems to grow before my eyes. My emotions fly high and I tear up knowing we spent our last night under the umbrella of the Creator at a sacred Quapaw site. We spend extra time sitting on the bluff processing the great news before we pack and move on. The team, minus myself, takes a celebratory swim in the frigid waters and we head for the Mississippi River! Mark River

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One Response to “Arkansas River – Big Island – Day 4”

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