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Upper Buffalo Wilderness:
Pruitt Hollow to Adkins Creek
October 24-25, 2010
As I began walking downstream from Pruitt Hollow at mile 8.7, it felt great to finally be seeing new territory. The mouth of Pruitt Hollow is on the north side of the Buffalo River at the top of an upside-down U curve. Looking downstream beyond a 200-ft long hole of water, I could see a tall bluff of layered rock on river left. This was the tallest bluff yet on the river; I'm guessing it's around 80 feet tall.
I stopped to take a picture at the downstream end of a short, shaded pool just upstream of the bluff. The late afternoon sunlight was bouncing off bright yellow Witch-hazel leaves and the reflection in the shaded pool was really nice.
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The bluff is a major landmark for the whitewater crowd; when the water is high enough for floating, a small waterfall pours off a short ledge at the upstream end. They call the spot False Double Drop, named after a more ominous Double Drop just downstream. I couldn't help but spend some time beneath the tall bluff. It's one of the most scenic spots on the river. Against the backdrop of the layered bluff, the flat bedrock stream bed slopes gradually down. Small boulders line the stream on the left. On the opposite bank, huge old Beech trees inhabit a flat sandy area. At the downstream end of a shallow pool, all the colorful, recently-fallen leaves had slowly drifted with the current and were now jammed together.
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The stream curved southward away from the bluff and formed a narrow, blue hole of water lined with glossy green Alder bushes on river left, around mile 8.9. Below there the stream went through a tight, deep channel with a tall bank of stacked rocks on the left and big rocks and small boulders on the right. I love places like this. I could see Double Drop just below.
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I could understand how Double Drop would give the kayakers some problems. A group of four big boulders filled the width of the stream bed. Thick Witch-hazel bushes blocked the way on river right. In high water, I imagine kayaks would have to go to the left of the boulders and drop off of a multi-layered sandstone ledge there.
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The sun had set and all the clouds overhead were a soft pink. Down in the deep Buffalo River valley, light was fading fast. I went up into the Beech woods on river right about 50 feet and found a flat spot to camp. As soon as I got the tent up and the gear inside, I sat down and took off my wet boots. I set up the Trangia stove then realized I'd have to walk down to the river to pump water. "I'm just not up for it" I thought. I was tired, and I didn't want to put my boots back on.
I had just enough water in the drinking bottle to pour into my titanium mug and boil over the stove. I poured the water into a pouch of dehydrated Pasta Primavera, then sealed the pouch. While waiting for the food to rehydrate and cool, I organized my gear. It seems I had way too much stuff.
My energy returned enough that I walked barefoot to the river and filtered water for the morning. Back at the tent, the Pasta Primavera was really good. The lightweight pouch folded up to a thin rectangle and went in the trash bag.
I'd rigged a 2-gallon ziplock bag with a reinforced hole at the top for the purpose of hanging all my food up in a tree. I had a nifty little pouch containing twine for hanging food bags. The twine was tied to the pouch; I put a small rock in the pouch and threw it over a tree limb. The pouch with one end of the twine fell back down, then I tied the food bag to the loose end of the twine and pulled it up to hang a couple of feet from the limb. This all sounds so easy, but once again hanging food from a tree was a frustrating and time-consuming affair, mainly because I had to untangle the twine at the beginning of the process. I finally got to bed around 9. The thermometer on my alarm clock reported 64 degrees. I went to sleep to a noisy chorus of bugs.
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