The River Journal Chapter 11 Rim Shoals to Buffalo City the worst is over ?


The worst is over. The sun is warming the air.  The fog had become intermittent. But the clash between the cold river water and hot air would continue to create fog off and on all day. According to my little map it was another seven and a half miles down to Buffalo City and the junction with the famed Buffalo River. At my average rate of travel that day I should be there in a little over an hour. 

The little mercury cranked up and looped me around toward the middle. The current caught the boat immediately and before I could get her turned around I was headed into a batch of willows. Normally they would have been well up on shore but with the water so high they were right in my way. She turned just in time to miss the trees. Whew ! Maybe I caught a little luck. 

Life looked much better without the rain, fog, lightening and thunder. The current was still there. So were the flooded banks. But overall things were becoming less concerning and the little motor more reassuring.

As the boat passed over Rim Shoals I thought, “Hey, I can do this”. It’s not near as bad as it was earlier. It’s boiling and bouncing a little but the little motor keeps me lined out. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was beginning to learn to read water again. I was starting to pick better lines in the shoals. Part of the reason was that I could see where I was going and I starting to concentrate on the water rather than other problems such as weather. 

If I learned one thing that day it was the other things don’t matter if you don’t handle your boat properly. The river will kill you for sure. The weather can kill you but only by chance and mistake. Watch your river first and foremost. The water is always the boss. 

I was making good time and the weather decided to send me another round of showers. This time it was only rain and fog without the lightning. The moisture came with a cold wave of air that stayed. I pulled on my rain jacket. Once again, I felt as if I was defying death by letting go of the tiller to change outerwear. I was reminded both my wife and my cousin had sternly warned me as to always wear a life jacket. I thought of the irony again. 

By this time it was approaching two o’clock. I felt I was making excellent time although I wasn’t getting my GPS work done nor was I getting any of the great scenery into the camera. I had basically given up achieving any of my goals and was content to get to Buffalo City alive. That was the effect of my first seven gate morning.

The ride didn’t call for much power from the little motor so I was running at about one fourth throttle.  The river was moving but it didn’t seem as violent as before. I watched my map and read the water. The traffic on the river remained quiet. The fog gradually lifted and the rain went away once again.  It was still a little chilly so I kept the jacket. 

I knew from the map I was going over shoals areas and I could see turbulence but not near as much as the morning. I was a happy camper. 

Before I knew it I was actually able to see some of the scenery. I even shot a couple of frames. In no time it seemed I reached Buffalo City Access and the magnificent Stair Bluff. 

Next up……The Boomer meets the Cub Scouts.

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