The plan on the middle Duck would have worked perfectly as far as bridge access and distances, but the gravel bars were already going to be scarce on that section. Even though the gauges say we are getting closer to normal river levels, I don't think we can risk arriving to find out that our target campsites are underwater since we need to be in specific places in order to meet our ever-changing crew. And a 3-nighter makes it that much more likely we would be camping in some muddy field at least once. The reality is, that section is meant for a fall trip and I was trying too hard to make it work in the spring.
You might think, then, it would make sense to do one of those really attractive spring rivers that are so fun when the water is high, like the Piney or Yellow Creek. But ironically, a 3-night trip basically eliminates those as well. There's just not enough distance on the smaller rivers for four days of paddling.
So, like Big Daddy watching us fool around with the latest pretty kitchen toys, the Buffalo River has been waiting patiently for us with its easy current, blue-green water, and big clean gravel bars year-round and doesn't care that our eyes wandered to other rivers for awhile.
I had a visit to pay. A man who had been decent to me a couple of times, and whom I liked, farmed a stretch of the right bank in that neighborhood. I'd met him in a warm October that had turned suddenly cold, catching me under-equipped; I'd passed him where he was fishing from the rocks below his house, and after we'd talked a little he'd said: "Boy, you're gonna freeze. You pull out at my picnic ground down there and shoot you some squirrels and build you a far."
His wife came out. I hadn't met her before. She was around fifty, in gingham, with black hair pulled back on the sides of her head, and sun-narrowed eyes - the big-framed, gaunt breed of woman that farmers and ranchers so often pick to mother their sons after they've finished with the pinch-faced pretties of the honkytonks. Sometimes at town gatherings of people I have looked around and wondered what happened to that physical type in the process of urbanization, and then have seen them maybe along the wall, standing round-backed, dressed to deprecate their bulk among the slim-waisted twinkling blondes with Empire hairdos. In the country they still stand straight, and are prized.
Goodbye to a River, pp. 100-01.
I will post details about the schedule, river accesses, and the rest of the menu tomorrow. But for planning purposes, if you're coming from out of town or meeting us at the put-in it will be on the Buffalo River near Hohenwald, TN. Hopefully still in range of Predators radio.