It was a chilly January morning...

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in 1996 when it all started.  Low temperatures in the 20s with highs in the 30s-40s predicted.  Not the best camping weather, but not cold enough to discourage Charlie Newland or Roger Sullins from accomplishing their goal of traveling down the White River to the Mississippi!  A 400 mile river trek that would be an adventure not soon forgotten.  With their Jon boat packed with warm clothes, sleeping bags, blankets, food, and of course their fishing equipment, Charles and Roger began their adventure.  Two miles down from Bull Shoals Dam they put in, next stop Batesville, AR, to the old locks that still remain from an era long past.  101 river miles to the first of three.  They slept on the banks of the river in their tents and wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags to stay warm.  They ate from cans and carried beef bouillon to drink. 

"Everything was good for a couple...

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of days, and then the wind got up real strong.  Our boat was loaded heavy, and we didn't have that much of the boat sticking out of the water.  A couple of times the wind got up hard and caused some pretty stout waves that got us a little nervous," says Roger Sullins.   "From Wildcat Shoals to the Buffalo River the water was deadlow, and we had to traverse the river carefully. It was the toughest part of our navigation," said Charles Newland.  Once past the locks in Batesville it was on towards the flatlands where the land eventually becomes swampland, wetlands...duck country!  They were soon distracted from fishing by the ducks and geese.  "I'd never seen ducks congregate anywhere in these kinds of numbers.  It was phenomenal," says Sullins. 

It was the peace at night...

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that they loved.  Sullins wrote in his diary of the trip, "I sat by the fire, and all you can see are stars.  No lights.  No sign of man nowhere outside of camp.  We heard owls and geese two nights. A few coyotes.  We saw three turtles.  A tugboat pushing a barge.  And a big paddlewheel boat.  Very few signs of beaver.  Above Batesville they were eating the world up..."  Charlie and Roger didn't talk much during the trip because of the noise of their motor.  "It sounds as if we didn't get along worth a spit," Sullins said, "but that wasn't it. Our conversations pretty much were based around, 'Did you see that?' and 'Look at that!'"  "It was something that neither of us had ever seen before and, even though we were out there together, it was like we were two individuals alone out there," said Charles. 

Traveling at about 15 miles an hour...

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for most of the trip and being in awe of where they were, what they had seen, and what they were actually doing, Charles and Roger said that they had never thought of the trip in a commercial sense that it may be developed as something Newland's could offer to its customers. Since they've been back, though, it has been mentioned as a possibility in the future.  What Charles and Roger experienced on this trip can never be replaced.  What Roger remembers most about the land of the bayous and catfish, mud and reeds, wide rivers and geese, still shows in his clear sky-blue eyes.  The trip is over now; the 400 mile trek complete.  Their friendship even closer now because of the experience - the experience of a lifetime. -- Reprinted From Baxter Bulletin Newspaper, 13 Mar 96.     Read more about the White River Basin.

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