Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Trails and Travel: The Saline In August

Denver, Rob Reep's German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy, enjoys a cool dip in the Saline River.
Small round pebbles pressed upon my bare feet as I stepped ever-so-slowly, making sure my footing was solid and that no sudden drop-off was awaiting me as the water rushed around my body.  With my standing reassured I said, "Come Denver!"  With an excited smile on his face, my German Shorthaired Pointer bounced like the Winnie the Poo character Tigger into the flowing water, creating a massive splash.  The splashes stopped when his feet could no longer touch the bottom, at which time his webbed paws took over and he started churning water just like a steamboat that once roamed these waters of the Saline River.  Within seconds he was with me standing in some shallow water in the middle of the river just north of the Highway 63 Bridge north of Warren.

Denver turned 18 weeks-old just days earlier, and with his vaccinations complete, it was time to give this waterdog his first introduction to wild water.  As the only free-flowing river in the Ouachita Basin, Bradley County's Saline River is most definitely wild water.

The day was a resounding success.  Denver certainly loves water, which means many days of enjoyment coming for our family in nature.  From hikes in Arkansas State Parks to mountain climbing in Colorado, we've got a great family companion ready for almost any adventure.

This past weekend on the Saline got me thinking about how rare our river is.  We take it for granted far too often.  So I'm starting what I hope will be a longterm column that will celebrate, introduce, and from time to time remind us of what opportunities for adventures await us here at home.  This week let's take a gander at the very geographic feature that this website is named after, the Saline River.

Jessi Reep awaits Denver's retrieve of a bumper.
As I mentioned earlier, the Saline River is the last free-flowing river in the Ouachita Basin, meaning there are no man-made dams or obstructions throughout its entire length.  This wild nature of the Saline makes it very special.

Of course, most of us know it's a wonderful place to fish.  Even now in August, some boaters are still able to hit the water.  Bream, catfish, and bass swim its waters, which has led to a rich tradition of fish fries over the last hundred years.  This past weekend, as my wife and I, along with Denver relaxed on the sandbar, there were even fishermen wading in the swift water and waiting on the next big one.

For portions of the year the Saline is high and its waters murky at best.  This time of the year gives most of us the impression of a swamp-like river, not desirable for swimming.  However, as this past weekend reminded me, the Saline does at times present itself as a true stream, with its gravel bed very noticeable through the clear shallow waters of August.  There are several favorite swimming holes up and down the Saline's banks.  Those include Ozment's Bluff, Godfrey Place, just north of Melton's Landing, Camp Mansfield, and many more.

These clear waters, while not considered whitewater, are still perfect for those who like to canoe or kayak.  Canoers particularly must be careful parts of the year, as the river level can drop to such a point that you might find yourself dragging your boat for a good chunk of the trip from bridge to bridge.  Kayakers, however, were in full force this past weekend, drifting high in the rather warm water flowing to the south.

Rob Reep and his GSP Denver wade in the Saline in early August 2019.
The Saline River has such a rich history to boot.  It's been the home of pioneers and before that Native American groups such as the Caddo and Quapaw.  If you would like more information on the history of the Saline River, please check out my documentary on the subject that has been out for several years, "The Saline."

So the next time you're looking for a quick beach vacation, why not enjoy a gravel beach vacay on the Saline.  It's close, you can fish, you can float, and it's clean and clear!

Till next time, get outside and enjoy the outdoors. But stay cool!

1 comment:

  1. Land along the Saline is leased. Enjoy the river, take out what you take in. The roads & trails are not for your joy riding so stay out