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Arkansas Chapter of the CoHT . . .

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Canoe Trek

by Bryant McIguire

Cadron Creek Blockhouse Camp and float was one of the most enjoyable events I have been to in some time. In attendance were CoHT members Marty Kayter, Mark Grigg, Larry Layne, Tim Richardson, Karen Keating, my wife Kathy and myself. Also Mark Thurman, Karen’s friend, and the caretaker of the blockhouse.

Mark Grigg, Kathy and I arrived on Friday afternoon to find Karen sitting on the front step of the blockhouse enjoying some quite time. Mark Thurman returned soon after from a trip to the settlement for supplies. Getting our bedding and gear stowed on the second floor of the blockhouse we relaxed after a long trip and got caught up on times missed with friends. Marty Kayter was the next to arrive with the canoes in tow. We showed Marty around and he got his gear put in a likely place. Soon it was time to think about eating and Mark Thurman is to be lauded for not only supplying our first nights meal but for one of the best tasting meals cooked over a fire I have enjoyed in a long time! That was worth the trip in itself. We sat around the fireplace talking and ribbing each other and feeling well satisfied and full long into the evening. Finally the need for sleep over came one and all an up stairs we went each to their own bed. A fire was kindled in the upstairs fireplace to keep the early March chill at bay and we slept well. Morning arrived and I was awakened to the sound of wood being chopped so I rolled out of bed and went to see.

Mark Grigg in his Native American attire was making kindling to get the morning fire going. We chatted and tended to the fire until everyone else got up to greet the day. As we waited for the last members of our canoe float to arrive we talked and relaxed, ate some of the leftovers from the night before. Soon Tim and Larry arrived and got their gear into the blockhouse. Then it was time to head to the put in at the river. Before long there were 3 canoes on the water one with Larry and Tim, one with Mark and I, and one that Marty brave soul that he is took himself. Cadron Creek from that point to the Arkansas is a pretty tame slip of water and this was a relaxing and enjoyable time. I know that the canoes were of modern design and there were a few signs of present day commerce on the river but I have found that it is possible to let those things slip your mind and imagine that maybe you are some of the first whites to see this place.

There were many exploring stops made along the way and then there it was, the Arkansas River. I have stood on the banks of the Arkansas many times and watched it roll by but I never had an idea of the power of that river until we made a stop about one hundred yards from where Cadron Creek pours itself into the Arkansas. We sat in our canoes enjoying each others company and soon noticed that we were floating back up stream. The Cadron trying to force itself into the Arkansas was creating a backwater strong enough to move us the way we had just come. Into the Arkansas river we went in canoes. I have never been on a river of that size in a canoe before and I will admit that it made me feel small and very mortal. But not wanting our adventure to end too soon Marty in his canoe and Mark and I decided to paddle out into the Arkansas to explore one of the many islands. Tim and Larry being wise chose to keep to the bank and return to the blockhouse. Again I was amazed at the power of the river as we had to paddle toward a point directly across stream to reach an island about a quarter mile down stream. And my admiration for Marty grew as it was difficult for Mark Grigg and I to do this together he did it alone. We reached the little sand hill in the water with its trees and brush and many geese and all that goes with them. I suggested that we name this Goose Shit island. We were scolded the whole time we were there by the regular residents, the geese, who had evacuated as soon as we neared.

We found signs of a predator probably a cat using the island as a well stocked banquet. Now rested and ready to brave the current of the Arkansas again we shoved out from the island to attempt our return to the blockhouse. Again we had to make for a spot almost across from us to compensate for the current and arrive at the blockhouse without being carried down stream. Safe back with my wife and friends we stowed the canoes and rested from our water travels. But soon the call of the woods just behind the blockhouse got to me and Mark Grigg and I made a scout. I showed him one of the pioneer grave sites and a place I like to go to watch the river and enjoy some solitude. But that was not to be this day, the nice weather had brought out denizens of the 21st century to enjoy the park. We heard them long before they saw us and tried to move on and avoid contact with these hostiles. But they kept coming and soon we decided to try to hide from them.

I made it into a thicket but Mark thinking that his red shirt would give us both away stood his ground. I kept cover and was ready to defend my brother if needed. Fortunately for us and them they were not hostile at all. A family of a Mother and several children were walking the trails and making much noise. When the lead child walked up where he could see Mark with his war paint and Indian appearance he froze as did each of the others until the whole group stood gaping at this visage from the past. Mark engaged them in friendly dialog as I watched from cover. My old legs getting tired from kneeling in the thicket I stood and walked toward this group keeping cover between us. I made it to about 15 yards from them and stood listening and watching with only Mark aware of my presence. We made it safely back to the blockhouse and enjoyed what was left of the day with friends and curious visitors. The second nights meal was a pot luck and many wonderful and different pots were provided. Luckily there was much good food in the pots.

Sunday morning arrived and time to return to the 21st century, I hate this part of any event. But that just makes it so good to think about the next one.


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