Venture Scouts, both girls and boys, move water during the beginning of the 50th Annual White River Canoe Race just below the Bull Shoals Dam in Arkansas. The Boy Scout of America event is a three-day, 120-mile race from the dam to Batesville, Ark.
A young girl walks though White River mist before scouts arrive for the 50th Annual White River Canoe Race. The icy cold water released from Bull Shoals Dam often keeps the river downstream shrouded in mist.
Jim Short of Springfield, Mo., gives last minute instructions before the start of the 50th Annual White River Canoe Race on Thursday, July 28, 2016. The event is one of the longest running Scouting events in the nation,
Max Dungan, 11, of Bentonville, Ark., fishes the White River at Cotter, Ark., on Thursday, July 28, 2016, while a stringer of his freshly-caught rainbow trout sit nearby, The White River boosts a world-class trout fishery, which is becoming more popular with kayak anglers.
Venture Scouts wait for teammates to arrive at Cotter, Ark., on Thursday, July 28, 2016, during the 50th Annual White River Canoe Race. The 120-mile, three-day race often brings back
Family and friends cheer Venture Scouts at the start of the 50th Annual White River Canoe Race on Thursday, July 28, 2016, in Arkansas.
Old Timers Stephen Lynn and Dale Burris paddle into the shadow of a towering limestone bluff at Buffalo City access during the race.
WRCR Coed team
Venture Scouts listen to last minute instructions Thursday, July 28, 2016, before the BSA 50th Annual White River Canoe Race at Bull Shoals Dam in Arkansas. Venture Crews from four states competed in the event.
WRCR LA team
WRCR hard paddling
Venture Scouts from four states wait for the start of the 50th Annual White River Canoe Race on Thursday, July 28, 2016 at Bull Shoals Dam in Arkansas. The 120-mile race is one of the longest running events hosted by the Boy Scouts of America.
WRCR camera dad
Scouts from Venture Crew 313 of Bogalusa, La.,  Rory Breland, from left, Roo Breland, Branna Crosby and Colby Spears trade out during a changeover at Cotter, Ark., on Thursday, July 28, 2016 during the 50th Annual White River Canoe Race. The 120-mile, three-day race is the longest running Boy Scouts of America event.
Venture scouts pass under a train bridge at Cotter, Ark., while competing in the 50th Annual White RIver Canoe Race on Thursday, Juy 28, 2016. Fourteen teams from four states competed in the three-day, 120-mile race.
WRCR Old Timers
Venture Scouts grab water at the beginning of the 50th Annual White River Canoe Race on Thursday, July 28, 2016, at Bull Shoals Dam in northern Arkansas.

Time Traveling on the White River

Scouts uphold a 50-year-old tradition at the 2016 White River Canoe Race

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