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Notes From Hunter Creek 5.12.2016

River Classifications

Spring rains have arrived; the grass is greening, and Hawthorns and Wild Plums have been blooming, soon to be followed by the beautiful Red Buds and then Dogwood blooms in the woods. The Eagles are long gone from Hunter Creek valley, replaced by the Red-tail hawk and several hundred turkey vultures.

As more people are getting prepared for spring floating, this would be a good opportunity to discuss “river classifications.” These classifications were first defined by the American Whitewater Assn., and are now incorporated by the American Canoe Association and American Red Cross.

Still, it is important to remember that the majority of recorded river boating fatalities do not occur on whitewater steams, but rather involve floats on Class I rivers at high levels. And often, lifejackets are lacking.

Class I – Easy, slow to medium current and few if any river course obstructions. Example: lower runs on North Fork of White, Bryant Creek, Beaver Creek, Current River, Black River, lower St. Francis River, Buffalo National River (Ark.), at lower levels.

Class II – Medium in difficulty. Frequent but unobstructed rapids. River course is easily recognized. Not suitable for the novice canoeist. Example: in spring the upper Jack’s Fork River, Eleven Point River, Spring River (Ark.); upper runs on the North Fork, Bryant, and Beaver; and Buffalo River at higher levels.

Class III – Only suitable for intermediate level and advanced level canoeists. Maneuvering in rapids is necessary with small falls and numerous rapids. The river course is not always easily recognized. Helmets recommended. Example: St. Francis Shut-in runs at lower levels, Wolf River (Wisc.), in Penn. The Casselman and upper Youghiogheny Rivers, Sec.  II-Earl’s Ford Run of the Chattooga River (Ga/Sc.), Nantahala Gorge, above Wesser Falls (NC.), most Arkansas whitewater streams at high levels: Piney Creek, Mulberry River, Frog Bayou, Illinois Bayou, Lee’s Creek, Little Missouri River.

Class IV – Very difficult with long stretches of numerous rapids with irregular waves; boulders in mid-course. Can involve tricky, rapid strewn routes through willow thickets on the southern streams and tree jams on the northern streams. River course is difficult to recognize, and eddies are hard to catch.  Should only be attempted by advanced to expert boaters. Example: Marble and Grand Canyon at moderate levels (AZ.), Westwater Canyon and Glen Canyon runs on the Colorado (Utah), higher levels on the Yampa and Green River (Dinosaur Park, Colorado, Utah), Wesser Falls Run on Nantahala River (NC), Sec III at higher levels and Sec IV at lower levels of the Chattooga River (Georgia/SC), moderate levels of the Gauley River (W.VA), New River Gorge (W.VA), upper Hudson River Gorge (NY), Youghiogheny River (lower section, Penn).

Class V – Exceedingly difficult and should only be attempted by experts. Long, descending rapids, tree jams, vigorous cross-currents, eddies hard to catch with large unbroken irregular waves exceeding eight feet or more. Frequent river scouting necessary and danger to the boat and those in the boat. Example: Grand Canyon at high levels, New River Gorge and Gauley River at high levels (W. VA), Meadow River (W. VA), Savage River at high levels (MD), Little Falls Run of the Potomac (VA/DC).  Yes, that’s right, there are Class V rapids in Washington, D.C., Little Falls.

Class VI – limit of navigability. Forget it! Multiply all of the above dangers. Can only be attempted at favorable levels with pre-placed rescue people, and then, only with the risk of life.

Several rivers immediately come to mind.  Most boaters have run them successfully – but some have not.  Example: Niagara River Gorge, at higher levels (below Niagara Falls and now off-limits!).  Shoshone Dam Run-off (Colorado River, Colo.), along I-70 between Dot Zero and Glenwood Canyon. This two-mile stretch is normally dewatered due to a diversionary tunnel in the canyon wall to a hydroelectric plant.

Great Falls of the Potomac (VA/MD) above Mather Gorge, about eight miles north of the D.C. line. Several boating deaths here, and probably the result of the run being so close to a major metropolitan area.

And then, there are the three great Northern Rivers that normally run at a class V level, but are usually elevated to class VI because of their frigid water temps and remoteness. Stikine River – western B.C., Canada. Susitna River – east of Denali in Alaska, and Alsek River in Southern Alaska,  which flows out of the Kluane Mountains in the Yukon.

Seriously, if you feel lucky and your life insurance premiums are current, and you have executed your last will and testament, go for it!

Note: The power of the presidency with the deaths of chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice William O. Douglas, and resignation of Justice Hugo Black, and ascension of the Republican Party to the Presidency, the era of the liberal “Warren Court” (1953-1969) was over.  This era was followed by the Conservative (Chief Justice) “Burger Court” (1969-1986) which was followed by an even more conservative (Chief Justice) “Rehnquist Court” (1986-2005), and now we are in what most legal scholars describe as a middle of the road (Chief Justice) “Roberts Court.”

These Chief Justices are significant because they often lead and guide the Supreme Court for a generation. Just think, only four of them since 1953.

That is why Presidential Elections are so important.

A sitting president has three main powers as to his agenda. He can use his “bully pulpit” to energize the nation or Congress in support of a program (i.e. Obama hoping to support the Affordable Health Care Act in his first term.)

No. 2 –– the president is the Commander-in-Chief and holds considerable powers over Congress when it comes to the enactment of foreign policy.  Just look at what is happening with Cuba today.

And finally and significantly –– the president appoints all Federal U.S. Attorneys, and all Federal trial and Appellate Judges, and fills all vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court, with the “advice and consent” of the Senate, a check and balance written into the U.S. Constitution by James Madison.

President Obama has been able to appoint two liberal – leaning female justices and would like to have the Senate confirm at least one more before he leaves office.

I read an interesting book authored by James Carville a few years ago. Carville was Bill Clinton’s campaign whiz-kid who insisted in 1992 that Clinton stay on message, “It’s the economy, stupid.” And it worked.

Of course Carville’s wife Mary Matalin, a respected Republican strategist has always said that Bill Clinton should erect a statue of Ross Perot outside his presidential library in Little Rock. Perot ran as a third party candidate in 1992 and hurt the Republican chances of Bush Sr. by grabbing around 19% of the popular vote.

About six months following Clinton’s Inauguration, Carville met with the President who seemed very depressed. He asked Bill Clinton what was wrong, and Clinton said, it’s more like: “what is right.” Hillary’s health care offerings were proving unpopular and Clinton had zero power over the creation of jobs and the U.S. economy in general.

Carville was amazed at Clinton’s naiveté when it came to the power of the presidency. Carville told Clinton that in today’s global economy, the Federal Reserve Board’s control over interest rates and the resulting bond and stock markets is basically what controls the economy.

Yeah, that “It’s the economy, stupid” made for a good campaign mantra in 1992, but it was basically bull, as far as a president having any control over it.

Now, get up and go enjoy our beautiful Ozark outdoors!