Share |

Article Added on Wednesday, January 19, 2000
Taming the Possum
Story & photos contributed by Lance Jones

Read the Possum Walk Creek Description, also by Lance Jones.

Destination: Possum Walk Creek, Arkansas
This first descent took place on Friday, January 22, 1999.

In the small town of Drasco, in Cleburne County Arkansas. Eight paddlers, Lance Jones, Randall Gammill, Chris Anderson, Cowper Chadbourn, Bill Herring, Steve Robertson, Zach Smith and Billy Williams, gathered at the Texaco station in preparation for some good ol' Ozark creekin'.

Billy Williams
Billy Williams entering the top of 'Playing Possum'
Possum Walk Creek is located just a couple miles North to the put-in bridge they went, the locals in the store in disbelief. They said things like "You're gonna die!", "We ain't calling the Sheriff to rescue you." and "That can't be done, others have tried and come crawling out." Stares from the locals at the put-in and a friendly greeting from a couple of good ole boys which consisted mainly of "Ain't that water cold?" and "You're gonna freeze!" With grins on their faces, you could tell they wanted to say "You boys are crazy if you're going down there!"

Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson at the bottom of 'Warm-up' rapid
Temps were very comfortable 50's - 60's with mostly cloudy skies with the rain ended shortly after arrival at the put-in. They looked at the creek, maybe 150-200 cfs, and then looked at Randall and Lance, the ones who hiked it dry, and asked "Is it a go?" Unsure, they responded "Maybe. Let's go. There is another fork with just a few hundred yards down so hopefully there's enough water." The warm up consisted of 0.5 miles of flat water and riffles, followed by a couple of actual small rapids. Then the first one. A little straight forward slide over some smooth boulders. Seeing the rocks padded well, they knew they had enough water. Now the real rapids began.

Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson in the 'Possum Pinch'
The first was a short one that pinched into a slot just a few inches wider than the boats. Next, was a short complex drop of about 12-15 feet, which ended in a nasty slot. The boaters' choice was to portage over the right ledge and run the 'sneak' to the bottom on the right. Followed closely by a tight slot with tight turn to the right with two possible pin rocks in it. Randall squeaked through in his Micro 230, the rest walked entirely or portaged the two pin areas and ran the bottom part. Just below this drop was a huge boulder with some nasty undercutness clearly visible. A hard turn to the right around the boulder and off a steep 6 ft drop.

Randall Gammill
Randall Gammill emerging from the "Possum Hole"
Immediately below was a long complex rapid that was portaged due to a large tree across the creek. (This would have been the best rapid on the run - long, difficult but not as nasty as the others) This drop fed the last big one. Large boulders blocking the path. The left line was through a pyramid shaped hole, just big enough for Randall to fit through. The right line required a hard 90 degree turn to the left in front of a killer undercut slot. (This is one of the worst slots, this boater has ever seen) All others opted to portage the first part through another pyramid shaped hole then run the rest.

The creek continued its intensity with some nice rock jumbles, slides, ledges and one last complex drop (boof-slide, straighten, line up, over the 6ft narrow drop, avoid the tree and rock partially blocking the outflow).

Lance Jones
Here's me hitting the boof at the top of 'Possum Pie'
The gradient continued to level off until the confluence with Raccoon Creek (~2 miles from put-in). Good volume here, some good surf waves and decent current in the pools. After about 1.5 miles, Raccoon Creek met the Beech Fork. Lots of volume now, big waves, big pools and one monster hole near the end. After about 3 miles of Beech Fork and 1 mile across the NE corner of Greers Ferry Lake to the Highway 263 bridge, they were done. The first known 'successful' descent of Possum Walk Creek was complete.

All paddlers thoroughly exhausted, loaded up and headed for food and a good nights sleep. Maybe tomorrow will be just as great!

Possum Walk Creek is definitely a class IV+ run with class V and VI consequences in places. It has gradient in the 200-300 ft/mile range and is extremely beautiful. It runs entirely through private land, so future visitors should act respectfully. One of the land owners is Jerry, who owns the Texaco (now Citgo) in Drasco, he and all the others encountered so far have been very nice and informative. This boater will definitely be going back!

Possum Walk Creek is a real gem! This one is located just North of the small town of Drasco, AR. between Heber Springs and Batesville. It is real unique in the fact that is has a substantial watershed for a steep Ozark Creek (~ 9 square miles) before plunging into a small gorge. The gorge is about 1.5 miles long with several tough drops. The put-in actually on a paved county road 1.75 miles off of Highway 5/25, you don't find that very often in the Ozarks! The creek runs through private land the entire length so please be respectful to the landowners.

WVOutside would like to thank Lance Jones for letting us share his paddling tale with you. Be sure to check out his paddling page at Lance's Whitewater Page