Words and photos by Kevin Pieper
The White River in the Ozark Mountains is known worldwide for its exceptional trout fishery. Trophy rainbow and brown trout, up to 30 inches long, haunt the frigid, crystal-clear waters, often swirling in and out of sight, like apparitions in the night.
Trophies of the paddling kind also lurk in the deep in the river’s history.
Since 1966, the Boy Scouts of America have hosted the annual White River Canoe Race, where scouts from around the nation come to pull its waters and channel past paddlers for current bragging rights.
Starting beneath the cover of Bull Shoals Dam in northern Arkansas, which seems shrouded in perpetual mist, Venture and Explorer Scouts have, for 50 years, embarked on a three-day, 120-mile journey ending in the central plateau of the Natural State at Batesville.
Scouts, ages 14-21, are eligible to compete, but a special class, reserved for card-carrying AARP members, brings “Old Timers” to the White to recapture their younger selves.
I followed the scouts, both young and old, late this July during the first day of the 50th edition of the race. It was my 21st year covering the race. And yes, I had to show my AARP card.
— Scroll the photos in the gallery above and READ MORE about the White River Canoe Race