Sports: Five Reasons for Cool Weather Floating in The Natural State
photographs courtesy Arkansas State Parks and Tourism
Most of us don’t think much about canoeing until the warmer months — if we think about it at all. We assume a float trip is strictly a late spring or summertime activity involving bathing suits and a chest of iced-down beverages. But as the oft-quoted American philosopher Willie Nelson says, “That ain’t necessarily so.”
The fact is, canoeing in cool weather can be an exhilarating experience for several reasons:
1 You can see the lay of the land so much better. With the dense summer foliage out of the way, floaters can spot ridgelines, waterfalls, rock shelters, caves and other interesting geologic features from their canoes. You might even discover an old home site or lichen-covered stone fence along a hillside.
2 You’re likely to observe more wildlife, especially migrating birds. Hawks and eagles often perch above the shoreline looking for a meal. Waterfowl should be plentiful, and don’t be surprised to encounter a great blue heron stalking its prey in the shallows.
3 There’s something special about the crispness of cool air that delights the senses. Sounds seem to carry much farther, and campfire smoke smells even better.
4 You may well have the entire creek or river to yourself. As you quietly drift past colorful gravel bars and beneath bluffs that reach halfway to the heavens, you can contemplate the serenity and beauty of The Natural State.
5 The exercise will be good for you. While everyone else is couch-bound and hypnotized with so-called reality television, you can be outside in the real world stretching those muscles, breathing fresh air and getting your vitamin D straight from the sun.
Before you go, keep a close eye on the weather forecast, and make sure your paddling skills are equal to the conditions. When the water is cold, hypothermia is a distinct possibility even on a sunny day. Remember to pack a change of clothes (in watertight containers) and to wear that life preserver. Water, food, and sunscreen are recommended — and maybe even a waterproof camera so you can document your adventure on Facebook for the wan and sluggish skeptics.
Finally, it’s a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when you’re expected to return home. If there’s an emergency, it makes the work of a search party much easier!
Spend some time in the “Outdoors” category on the website arkansas.com, where you’ll find helpful tips for enjoying the wonderful assortment of streams in The Natural State. You’ll be surprised at what you can see once you get on Arkansas’s creeks and rivers.