Let’s Go Whitewater
While there are several exciting whitewater runs in Arkansas, there are just a few available runs in Missouri.
In southwest Missouri, and only during times of high water, one can float three Taney County whitewater steams: Roark Creek in Branson, Bull Creek in Taney County, near Walnut Shade (US 160 Hwy.); and Swan Creek in Taney County, upstream from Shadow Rock Park, outside of Forsyth.
In eastern Missouri, there are a few more whitewater runs: upper East Fork of the Black River, below the old power dam built by Union Electric that failed during heavy early spring rains a few years ago and virtually destroying all man-made structures, moving several vehicle-sized boulders downstream at Johnson’s Shut-In State Park, (State Hwy. 49).
There is a nice brief shut-in run on the Little St. Francis River that flows southwest out of Fredericktown, Mo., and there is the beautiful high-water run of Marble Creek, a tributary of the mighty St. Francis River. There is a small shut-in run on Big Creek near Annapolis, Mo. And on the Francis itself, there is a technical upper shut-in float that is dangerous at high water because of numerous tight willow runs occurring at the river rapids.
However, there is but one true whitewater steam in the Ozarks and that is the St. Francis River.
In Arkansas, you have a delirious five-mile run on the Cossatot River, near De Queen, Ark., about 50 minutes from Texarkana. The Cossatot is a solid class IV, maybe V at high water.
It is not technically an Ozark stream but rather lies in an Arkansas uplift known as Ouachita Plateau. Like most Arkansas whitewater streams, willow trees grow across the rapids during long, hot summers, and then after heavy winter and spring rains, these “willow jungles” suddenly become dangerous river strainers. Remember whitewater for the most part pillows around mid-stream boulders but passes angrily through willow tangles usually located at sharp turns in the stream, and acting as a dangerous entangling strainer.
The main St. Francis run on this great river is located at a very beautiful spot in the Ozarks known as Tiemann Shut-Ins, located about 10 miles east of Fredericktown and about 10 miles west of Arcadia, Mo. Missouri Conservation Commission has carved out this shut-in area out of the surrounding Mark Twain National Forest, and named it Millstream Gardens, (State Hwy. 72).
In fact, the Francis is so popular with mid-western boaters that in mid-march each year, the Missouri Whitewater Association sets up a quarter-mile run with Olympic style upstream and downstream gates. And every four years, it alternates with the Wolf River or Wausau River in Wisconsin for the Midwest Whitewater Olympic regional trials.
This class III whitewater run, Class IV at high water levels, presents a short four-mile run which possesses a nice hiking trail along the east bank with easy viewing of whitewater rafters, canoeists and kayakers, as they negotiate famously named rapids such as First Drop, Big-Drop, six-plus feet; Cat’s Paw, containing a huge rock outcropping called “The Shark Fin,” with 4’- 6’ S-shaped route through a very demanding rapid. Then, there is Double Drop with the “Mouse-Hole,” 3-5 foot drop, followed by Rickety-Rak, an S-curve drop involving about a six-foot gradient drop.
For the normal four-mile run, the gradient or river drop in elevation is over 20 ft./mile. For the Tiemann Shut-Ins, which lasts for a long quarter-mile, the drop is 50 feet, for an average drop of 200 ft./mile.
This is an unheard of gradient for most whitewater streams. It floats through narrow pink and purple colored defiles of resistant granite rock called “shut-ins”, and it runs in an almost straight north to south route with no meandering turns in its course.
As far as I can tell, there are no river boating whitewater deaths on this four-mile run, but you don’t want to be the first. Right! In very high water the most dangerous rapid on the river is a 4-5-foot drop contained in the eight-foot breach in the old stone Silver Mine Dam, located about one-mile upstream of United States Forest Service Silver Mine Riverside Campsite (Hwy. D).
Smart and alert boaters portage around this dangerous hydraulic at the higher water levels. Yet I have observed over my 40 plus years running of the Francis a good number of clueless fools that attempt this demanding stretch of river without benefit of a helmet, a life jacket, a suitable craft or any means of self-rescue. And all made it through, somehow. Although some had to walk out after their craft was wrapped around some ominous rocks. Well, you know-what the old saying is: those fools were either plain lucky or protected by some higher being.
Four class VI Rivers immediately come to mind if you have a lot of adrenalin stored in your body. Some boaters have run them successfully – and some haven’t. The first one, I think of, is the Niagara River Gorge, below Niagara Falls, now off-limits.
The second is the Shoshone Dam run-off along I-70 upstream from Glenwood Canyon. This 2-mile stretch is normally hydroelectrically dewatered through a tunnel in the canyon wall. But in extreme high-water runoffs, it can be run — if you’re lucky.
Third is Great Falls Section of the Potomac River located above Mather Gorge about 8 miles north of the District of Columbia and State of Virginia/Maryland line. Many deaths have occurred here probably because it is so close to a major metropolitan area.
If you are a novice whitewater boater, you can float the St. Francis at the lower levels. There is a good river gauge at the eastern side of the old Silvermine Bridge at the Silvermine Campsite. From minus eight inches to plus eight inches is a suitable level for novices properly equipped. From 8” to 24”, the level is okay for intermediate boaters.
Over 24”, leave the Francis for the advanced or expert boater. At a level of around 30-32 inches, the river begins to flow over the old bridge at Silvermine. And beware, the rapid upstream at the Silvermine Dam breach is now noted as dangerous and most experienced, knowledgeable boaters portage around it on river left.
One other note about this area –– While near the St. Francis, you can visit the highest point in Missouri at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, at 1772 feet, and climb the old US Forest tower for a tremendous photo. And then, on the way home coming down H Hwy. from Route 103, turn at NN Hwy. and go about four miles east to Rocky Falls.
This 30-foot drop is a spectacular sight and the closest shut-in located to near our area. Again the narrow purple and pink hard granite mini-canyons are a delight to picnic by or to hike up and around. Rocky Falls is located about 11 miles north of Winona, Mo, and well worth the visit.
(Rafting photos by Roger Wall)
Note: The third, and possibly the most famous, pro se habeas case decided by the US Supreme Court is now known to every television crime show watcher. And, almost every cop carries a business card with the Miranda warnings printed on it: “You have the right to remain silent”. No undue deference can be attributed to your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a Court of law. You may stop questioning by the police at any time by requesting the presence of a lawyer. You may request the assistance of a lawyer, and if you cannot afford one, a lawyer will be provided to you at no cost.”
More or less, these are the famous warnings, which are given in most cases when an accused is in custody. Right before, “Book Him!”
President Dwight Eisenhower, a poor farm boy from Abilene, Kansas, and eventually, Allied Force Commander of all troops in Europe during World War II, was a decent man and elected to two successive terms in virtual landslides over his democratic opponents.
At the beginning of his second term, Ike was looking to fill an important vacancy on the US Supreme Court, that of Chief Justice, a lifetime appointment. After receiving several pieces of legal and political advice from friends he chose Earl Warren, a former tough-as-nails Californian ex-prosecutor. Eisenhower wanted to balance a liberal-appearing Court into a more conservative one. Unfortunately for Ike, that is not what he got.
Earl Warren was a tough former prosecutor, but because of several abuses he had witnessed in the criminal judicial system, he became a big fan of the Bill of Rights. He also believed, as did several other Constitutional jurists, that the Bill of Rights not only applied to federal law but could and should be applied to State law, compliments of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.
And, he believed these cases could be brought before the Court by an inmate filing a simple pro se federal writ of habeas corpus, without the aid of an attorney.
This was unheard of at the time.
In 1963, there was Gideon v. Wainright, which established that an accused indigent person could be granted the right to a free attorney, appointed by the court to represent him.
Then in 1964 there was Escobido v. Illinois in which a lawyer could not be declined to a suspect undergoing police questioning. And then in 1966, Chief Justice Earl Warren incorporated Escobido in announcing far-reaching ramifications of Miranda v. Arizona, another pro se federal habeas case involving not only the Fifth Amendment but also the Sixth Amendment.
While there have been several strong attempts to dilute Miranda, for a half-century, it has withstood old father time.
I know I have, and I am sure there are many defense attorneys around, who have been quarried by a defendant’s family member. “But he was arrested and jailed without being read his rights!”
Yep folks. That’s right. The police only have to “Mirandize” a suspect who is in police custody, and they can still use his statements from an investigatory standpoint.
It is true that if the suspect was not Mirandized, then and only then, will his statement be ruled inadmissible in Court.
However, there is one important caveat. A suspect who makes an incriminating admission during police questioning in violation of Miranda will not be allowed to get up and testify in Court otherwise without consequence. At that time his statement taken in contra to Miranda can then be used to impeach the Defendant. This is just a good common sense ruling ordered later by a Supreme Court decision.
Now, get up and go enjoy the beautiful Ozark outdoors!