Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ready . . . Float


        Clear sky and warmth from the sun encouraged us out of the tent. Chunky peanut butter spread over half a cinnamon-raisin bagel constituted our breakfast before we packed our gear into the car and went in search of Tennessee's low point from the Mississippi side of the border.

         We referred to Dr. Bobo's computer program of downloaded local topography and GPS device to find our way to the river levee south of the border. A gate blocked the access road onto the levee, so we walked the gravel road on the levee three-quarters mile north towards Tennessee.
          "The border's about here," Dr. Bobo said.

          Several small yellow posts stood next to the levee road about thirty feet beyond.

          "I bet that's the official border right there." I walked closer for a better look, saw no distinguishing information on them.

          "Let's head west to the water," Dr. Bobo said. He pushed through the tall, wet grass down the levee's slope, towards the woods sixty feet away.

          We threaded our way west through the woods until we came to water, then turned north.

          "We're too far south," Dr. Bobo proclaimed.

          TROMP, TROMP. I avoided suspicious looking plants, believed some to be poison ivy. Mosquitoes hovered. I slapped one on my arm.

          "Well, this is good enough," Dr. Bobo said. "Touch the water here."
Primate Looks for TN Low Point.

           We took photos, Dr. Bobo marked our position with his GPS device, we called that the TN low point, official elevation of 178 feet.

           An employee of the Mississippi-Yazoo River Levee District -- "Bobby," he later told us -- greeted me on the levee road, offered us a ride to our car and provided us history of the levee system. He said, "The recent water level came two-thirds the way to the top of the levee."

           South, we headed, past the casinos of Tunic, past Alligator, past Boyle, before we veered west towards Arkansas.
           Previous low points a problem due to flooding on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, we held low expectations of reaching the low point of Arkansas on the Ouachita River.

          "We'll see what it looks like," Dr. Bobo said.

          Our final approach on gravel road proved no problem. What about the last mile and a half on foot?

          We set out doubtful, but willing to go as far as the water would allow, bushwhacked through light underbrush in woods. The soil proved firm under the leaf litter, the mud neither sticky nor deep.
Not only did we reach the Arkansas border with Louisiana at the Ouachita River, the gentle, sloped bank allowed us to touch water without mishap and without use of Dr. Bobo's rope he carried. We got our photos, tromped our way back to the car, surprised and thankful of our good fortune with the water level.
Connard at AR Low Point.
Ready to Float.

         On to Louisiana's high point.
         Mt. Driskell required our sweat equity to reach the 535-foot summit, nine-tenths mile from our parked car in the cool air, but we walked the gravel and dirt-packed road at a rapid pace. More photos.
         We proceeded to Shreveport, where we could have long, hot showers in a motel room and enjoy LA seafood.

          Distance driven today totaled 440 miles. Distance hiked included 2.5 miles around, through brush, mosquitoes and mud.

          Low points - fifteen; high points - ten.

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