At Buffalo Point the river slows down, and the water gets very shallow. As we walked downstream from the deep spot where we waded in, the water got shallower and shallower until there was barely and ankle's worth flowing over the rounded river rocks.
Here, near the far bank, large rocks had been lined up to hold a little water back, making a dam of sorts. The dam was V-shaped, suggesting that it was put there as a chute for canoes coming downstream. Without it, no canoes could have floated over the shallows.
Trudy found a spot where she could lie in the shallow water on the downstream side of the dam. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and we were tired from driving and setting up camp. She found a smoothish rock, used it as a pillow, and closed her eyes, lulled into dreamland by the gurgling of the water running thru the the rocks only an inch away from her ears.
Ben chose to lie in the deeper water of the chute. Here the water was deeper and faster. Unlike Trudy, who was motionless with her closed eyes facing skyward, Ben was face-down in the water, climbing upstream. Where the chute was narrowest and the flow swiftest, he found himself unable to hold his ground as the water pushed him downstream along with any rocks he tried to hold on to. He would crawl a few feet and then be pushed back to where he started.
I went on a rock hunt and found an orange-ish souvenir that had the face of a cartoon dinosaur and a white, gnarly rock that simply caught my fancy. They each fit into one pocket of my shorts, albeit with a little coaxing, and with them safely stashed, I floated and paddled in circles in a downstream swimming hole, watching three boys throw stones at me from the bluff.
Later, we saw that bad karma took revenge on the three stone-throwing boys on the hill, as they left their Coleman lantern behind when they packed up and left.
I guess it's a good thing that Trudy shamed me into tossing my souvenir rocks back into the river. Otherwise, who knows what the consequences might have been?
Buffalo National River, NW Arkansas
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