2013: Truth in Numbers

We’re a little late to this 2013 paddle log thread but here are the digits for we three Sig’s. I think I counted everything correctly as the year went on.

2013 Family Activity Log

2013 saw each of us paddling for over 32 days this year on 15-18 different streams streams for 113-170 miles. We continued to try out lots of boats this year which means some of us paddled 10 different boats. Some were open boats and I’ve since made the switch to paddling canoes. This, of course, upped all of our swim counts compared to the year before though Mandy still has the fewest (duh!).

Last year also saw us camping out 23-38 nights last year and hiking 40-108 miles. Hiking has taken a backseat to paddling but Mandy got her numbers up by spending three weeks rambling around the western US.

Even our dog Hayduke managed to hike 31 miles and camp out 11 nights which is more than many folks. He really is a luck dog.

All in all, it was another great year and a lot of that credit goes to the community of paddlers that makeup the Arkansas Canoe Club … those folks have taken us in to safely show us the ropes. SYOTR!

How boats are made

Ever wonder how modern canoes and kayaks are made? We did, so we went in search of a few videos and figured we’d share them here.

It seems like most kayaks are made by rotomolding though one or two companies blowmold them… most canoes are made of Royalex and are made by vacuum forming but this material won’t be manufactured after spring 2014… SOME canoes (mainly the more modern/short whitewater canoes like those made by Blackfly and Esquif), are made by rotomolding… and Mohawk Canoes is working on a blowmolding process for their new whitewater canoe.

How to make a kayak – rotomolding (Liquidlogic)

How to make a kayak – rotomolding (Jackson)

How to make a kayak – blowmolding (Prijon)

Royalex vacuum molding – (Novacraft)

Lower Big Piney

Once upon a time, a bunch of friends wanted to go paddling. They scoured the land for a river that was not too dull for the skilled paddlers in the group and not too difficult for the rank newcomers. They found themselves beset by many obstacles. Many of the potential paddlers did not have the gear for the journey, and those who had gear to loan lacked space for it in or on their trusty Subaru steed. One of their number fell by the wayside, while others joined the expedition at the last-minute. Despite the challenges the group faced, through careful planning and preparation, they managed to get to their destination – the Lower Piney – unscathed.

Our group convened at a handy McDonald’s in Conway. All together we had our family, Mitch and Rachel, Chris, and Cole in two vehicles when we left lunch. Yes, lunch. A late float is often a better float. Continue reading “Lower Big Piney”

Rec School 2013

Last year, our trip to the ACC’s School of Recreational Kayaking was our first real instruction in boating. Mandy was out of town, so she missed it, but Bryan and I spent the weekend in our first kayaks, the LiquidLogic XPs, and we learned a lot. This year, we approached the school in a much different way. We’ve all become much better paddlers in the last year, but there’s still a tremendous amount to learn. Bryan pitched in as a ‘safety boater’ for one of the basic kayak classes; I borrowed a whitewater canoe and enrolled in the canoe class.


Mandy’s back kept us from making a decision about what she’d do for the weekend. At the last minute, she got the blessing of her new orthopedic doctor. He had some concerns about the body position required by a kayak – her hamstrings are very tight, which puts her lower back in a strained position – so he suggested a little time in a canoe. On very short notice, she borrowed a Spanish Fly from our friend Cole. She had a great weekend getting to know a new boat. Continue reading “Rec School 2013”

Ice Water School


We’ve been looking forward to Whitewater School since we started paddling with the Arkansas Canoe Club. As the class got closer and closer, we got more and more excited. Camping! In May! On the Mulberry River! With friends! It sounded like a great weekend. We like to paddle, and we like to learn stuff, and that was just going to make it better.

But then it was the week before class, and we couldn’t help but notice that the forecast predicted lows in the thirties for the weekend. And rain. Camping and paddling started sounding somewhat less appealing. Continue reading “Ice Water School”

Inlaw Inspection 2010

Bryan’s mom is off work for Spring Break, and his dad took a week’s vacation to match. They came up to visit for part of the week, and asked for a good long weekend of camping near the Buffalo River.

On Saturday, on the way to Jasper, we showed them some of our favorite near-the-road waterfalls. At Falling Water Falls we got an extra treat — kayakers dropping off the falls into the water below.

Kayakers going off Falling Water Fall

Due to recent local rain, the water was up in Falling Water Creek. Six Finger Falls was flowing hard. We’ve spent lots of time in the creek here, playing in the clear water and sitting in the little hot-tub pockets that form at the edges of the six fingers, and downstream from here. Not today, though; the water’s rushing so hard I’m not sure we could even have waded across, much less relaxed in a quiet pool.

We tried to camp at Kyle’s Landing but the sign said it was full so we headed down the road to Steel Creek and set up camp for the night.

HDR photo of Six Finger Falls

On Sunday we rented canoes from Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, AR and floated the Buffalo, from Steel Creek to Kyle’s Landing. Bryan and I are in a canoe together exactly often enough to be bad at it, so we always take a few minutes to remember how to pilot the thing. This time, though, we didn’t get that chance. Within ten feet of starting our trip, we went off some sort of stupid ledge and tipped our canoe RIGHT IN FRONT OF about ten other people who hadn’t pushed into the water yet. It was completely ridiculous. We were soaked all day, and I never warmed up.

Apart from that, the day was great. As a surprise for Mandy, Bryan rented her a kayak, and she adores having her own kayak. She happily paddled along with us most of the time, and traded spots with me only when her arms tired out. Bryan’s parents declined the trip up Big Bluff but did take the short hike to see Hemmed-In-Hollow waterfall (his dad is staring up at the 200+ foot waterfall in the photo below). We ate supper at the Ozark Cafe for the second night in a row, and Mandy and I headed back to Little Rock.

Bryan stayed another night at Steel Creek with his parents, and on Monday they went to see the Pedestal Rocks. His dad can’t hike a lot because of issues with his feet, so this trail was my pick for them — short and easy, with a great payoff.

I love the Pedestal Rocks. They don’t look like something that should be in Arkansas; they belong out west, or in Mexico, or as part of some alien landscape. And underneath, they’re like caves that aren’t.

HDR image of the underside of a pedestal