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Christine's Trip Report: Buffalo River, Arkansas for the Eclipse

Christine's Trip Report: Buffalo River, Arkansas for the Eclipse

Two years ago, a friend had mentioned plans to do a float trip down the Buffalo River in Arkansas during the solar eclipse. I was all in, not that I really knew much about solar eclipses, but I'm always up for a good river trip down a new stretch of water. Time flies and, in the past few months, the reality set in as we prepped for a big 6-day river trip down the Buffalo River, a National Scenic River, that stretches through the hills of the Ozarks in NE Arkansas.


Our yard and house were covered with bags and piles of gear as we packed and repacked, or rigged as we call it in the rafting world, and outfitted our raft. With an April river trip, I was planning for the likelihood of cold wet weather which meant all the gear was coming out: dry suits, Xtratuff boats, down coats, rain coats, thermals, and more.


We ended up being blessed with gorgeous conditions, blue skies and warm temps for the majority of our time. With small kids in tow and while avoiding forecasted tornadoes along our route, it took about 3 days to make the 15 hour drive to Bentonville, Arkansas where we circled up our group of rafters to finalize the menu, pack coolers, and enjoy some world class mountain biking. We also got to make a pit stop into the LIVSN home shop, one of our newest brands here at 3ROC, in Bentonville to meet their team and try on our new favorite overalls and pants.


 We had a group of 11 people, 2 kids, and 3 dogs on 4 rafts setup as oar rigs, and 1 stand-up paddleboard. While you could do a trip like this as if you were backpacking and be very minimalist, that was not the intention of this trip. With 13 and 16 ft oar rigs we have the space and hauling capacity to set up camp in style. That means we bring our Kelty couches, our own groover (wilderness toilet system), dutch ovens, bocce, and LOTS of food. 


I had the pleasure, or challenge, of planning the menu for the entire crew for all 6 days and I'm proud to say we ate well. Camp cooking is a favorite pastime and I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to serve up delicious meals in the backcountry, not just the simple basics. We served up brownies, upside down pineapple cake, and even tried a camp-style tiramisu for desserts. For dinner, we had marinated grilled chicken with thyme roasted sweet potatoes, and stir fried beef sirloin ramen with peanut sauce to name a few. A new fan favorite for breakfast was Dutch oven French toast. I probably ate better, more delicious meals the 6 days on the river than I do at home most weeks. If you nerd out over spreadsheets like I do, just ask and I'll happily share my Google Doc with you that outlines the menu and shopping list for a 6 day menu for 11 people.


The prepping and packing for a trip like this definitely had its moments where I asked myself, "why am I not going to some easy resort vacation," but once you are floating down river thru the isolated canyon with a great group of friends it all becomes worth it. The hard work and late nights prepping slip away into a distant memory in just a few short miles as the multi-colored cliff rock walls come into view, the first sight of an eagle soars overhead, or you get lost counting how many turtles you've seen basking in the sun.


Getting to experience a total solar eclipse on an isolated riverbank in the middle of the Ozarks was just icing on top. The river gods delivered us a beautifully clear blue sky day for the eclipse and the two days that followed we had expected torrential downpours and storms turned into mildly overcast instead. We were truly blessed, the storms and downpours held off until we had departed the river and had our vehicles packed for the 2-3 day drive back.


Now we're home and spring is in full swing. It's time to jump back into planning a fun summer of events at 3ROC & the Outpost and daydream about where the next float trip will be. If you ever want to chat about river float trips stop in and chat to myself or Eli, he was the one all packed up floating downriver with his dog and all his gear on the SUP board!

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