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5/9/15
  Saturday morning at 2:00 a.m. the Cossatot River was at a reasonable level of 4.38 ft. My plan was to paddle the short 2 mile section from Ed Banks Rd to Sand Bar Campground. Typically my boat enters the water near sunrise and the river is all mine so the total natural experience can be appreciated. I paddled this river many times with groups of people in the late 80's and early 90's, but now the solitude of the flowing water is what is desired. This is a beautiful stretch and it gives me just enough challenge to go it alone. My fear was that more rain was coming and the river would rise and be too high. This is exactly what occurred. By 5:30 the level was 8.63 ft so the back-up plan was put into effect. The river would rise and fall many times over the next 2 days with a peak level of 16.55 ft on Monday at 3:30 a.m., which is 32,300 cfs...a might bit on the side of flood stage.
  My secondary plan was not really a plan, but to just do something else. Breakfast in Mena sounded great so it was in that direction I went. After a fine meal with the locals at the Skyline Cafe it was upward to the Talimena Scenic Drive that starts atop Rich Mountain. It rises to a altitude of 2,681 ft and is 2nd only to Mt magazine at 2,753 ft. The Lodge at Queen Wilhelmina State Park is still undergoing renovation and has been going on since 2012. It seems that the completion date keeps getting pushed forward and the latest estimate states early summer. This is exciting for this lodge and restaurant was pretty boring in the state it was in. The lodge will be added to the the fine list of state park lodges we have here in Arkansas including those at Petit Jean and Mt Magazine. DeGray is also pretty cool. Why not visit one today.
  The rain had stopped for a while as my vehicle motored westward well into Oklahoma. The mountains that extend into this state are quite beautiful. A southern direction was taken at Hwy 259 for a few miles before heading back to the Cossatot River State Park Area on Hwy 246. After messing around here it was time to go back towards Hot Springs...so I did. This was a disappointing outing in the respect that no kayaking was partaken of but the drive was nevertheless an enjoyable one.

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