The previous four years I had written...

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about my River trips: 1) from Newlands to the Mississippi  River, 2) from the start of the White, down to Newlands, 3) from the mouth of the Mississippi River on  down to New Orleans, and, 4) from the start of Buffalo River to the mouth of White River.  That made about 1530  miles total.  Then I thought-where do I go next?  The obvious choice was 76 miles of Crooked Creek.   While I had done most of the stretches of this beautiful stream in different increments at different times, I never made one continuous float.  So, in the spring of 2000, that's what I did.  The Creek is very special to me.   It starts close to HARRISON, in northcentral Arkansas.  My first remembrance was the 1961 flood (I was 11 years old then), and we went to purchase water damaged clothes that resulted from the aftermath.   A house had actually been washed down stream and had lodged under the town bridge resulting in water overflowing its banks. 

It was in sight of this bridge where I...

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started my trip, with my jonboat loaded with provisions-and two "chainsaws".  Why chainsaws, you ask?? Well, the Creek is quite remote...not many people float it.  And trees and logjams will actually block the channel. And one literally has to "saw his way" through sometimes. I continued on downstream to PYATT, a small town along the Creek. My father loved to fish the Creek. My next memory was when he would take me with him on float-fishing trips. Then he let me run the jonboat. I guess he was subjecting me to my baptism of navigating a boat. I don't think he was too pleased when I sank the boat. I'll never forget rounding that fast bend and seeing that tree out in the Creek. I bet my eyes were big as saucers. That little 5 1/2 hp motor was straining for all it was worth, but I still hit it. My father said nothing but his expression spoke volumes as I'm sure he pondered, "...just how much patience can I endure with this boy?" But I got more proficient at running a boat, and even became a pretty good fish-catcher. A few years after the boat sinking incident, I had caught a real nice stringer of Smallmouth Bass.  Daddy had picked me up from the Creek and then went straight to the Yellville barber shop, where his buddies were hanging out, to show off this stringer.

His "beaming" expression was very...

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different this time-and I felt I had redeemed myself.  Below Pyatt, I camped for the night at the mouth of "Clear Creek", a major tributary to the Creek. The better fishing starts in this area, and continues downstream to Yellville. The plentiful water coming out of Clear Creek was just the right "color" and I knew the next day would be a great fishing day-and it was. My arm was tired from catching fish.Finally, on down to YELLVILLE, and further yet below FLIPPIN for my camp. What nice thoughts and memories.

But on downstream I knew...

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the Creek would have less water, this being contradictory to most streams having more water the further one goes down. But I had no idea I would actually "run out".  I guess the water (over the distance of several miles) soaks into underground tunnels. As the previous day was wonderful, the next day was much more challenging. Not only did I have to saw through logjams, but also deal with less and less water. I was literally moving rocks around trying to make channels to achieve enough water to get the boat through.   This was getting "a lot like work!!!"  Finally, after reaching the point of near exhaustion, I conceded to Mother Nature's victory, and walked out and called my trusty aid, Alvin, to come after me.

Then within a week we had...

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a good rain, bringing the Creek back up and allowing me to start where I left off and continue on to where the Creek empties into White River, a few miles downstream from COTTER. Later, when I was relating my experiences to a friend, she said, "...why in the world would you want to do all that work when you have so much beauty and convenience right in your own back yard-at Newlands?" The fact was I had a personal goal to traverse all the waterways with local origins, as far as they would lead. I guess just to see what is there. And now I have done so, gathering memories, and conquering personal challenges along the way.--Charles Newland

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