Advice for Littlerbugs

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View of Lake Alma from the dam

This cool rainy morning was perfect for picking up trash on the Lake Alma Trail. The sight of trash in the Ozarks sometimes interrupts my enjoyment of the walk. I try to contain my emotional response to seeing an abandoned cup because it confuses Hiker-dog. She’s always happy in the woods and worries if I’m not enjoying my time, too.

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I’ve wondered what folks are thinking when they toss trash on the trail, so I decided to Google it. Didn’t find any explanations of the litterbug’s inner thinking, but the Journal of Applied Social Psychology published a study that confirmed something I’ve long suspected: “The littering rate was…lowest in a clean environment.” I was surprised to learn that positive (“Pitch-In”), and negative (“Littering is Unlawful”) signs had the same minor effect on reducing litter. It’s sad to see anti-littering signs in natural areas.

Since they are not likely to stop, I decided to list a few pieces of advice for litterbugs. If you know anyone guilty of littering, please pass these along.

  1. Leave your trash on the trail rather than tossing it off of the path where it’s difficult for volunteers to retrieve in poison ivy and greenbriers.
  2. Leave the labels on your water bottles. When you tear off the label, volunteers then have two pieces of trash to pick up. This pisses off some volunteers, and we don’t want to see angry people on our hiking trails.
  3. If you are unable to resist the urge to take a dump right next to the trail, please pick up the book, How to Shit in the Woods and give it a read.
  4. Please leave contact information on your trash (or next to it in the case of human excrement), so we can fill your email inbox with words of thanks for practicing “courteous” littering and providing us with volunteer opportunities.
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Hiker-dog on top of the LAT Dam

We only saw a few pieces of trash on the trail this morning, but cooler temperatures reminded me that Arkansas’ hiking season is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to sharing Five Star Trails: The Ozarks at several fall events. I might even include a few Leave No Trace reminders just in case any litterbugs wander in by accident.

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Five pieces of trash were found on the trail with the remainder found in the picnic area.

My Morning Brew: Great Coffee on the Trail

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I love coffee! On the trail, even the most disgusting instant coffee tastes pretty good, but if we can have gourmet coffee while “roughing it,” why not?

I once felt guilty about my coffee obsession, but many nutritionists now say it’s a healthy drink, so I feel no shame when enjoying my morning shot of stimulant.

There are many instants and brewing techniques out there, but I’ve learned that less is best. Some cringe when they see my backpacking version of “cowboy coffee,” but this is similar to the way professional coffee tasters do their work, so it has some credibility. It also fits into the ultra-light approach because no special equipment is required.

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What you’ll need: A cup, spoon, boiling hot water, and espresso grind coffee. A coffee shop will do the espresso grind for you. I like a dark roast bean. The important thing is that this coffee is a powder-fine grind. Regular grinds result in a chewy brew with less flavor.

The brew:

  1. IMG_0127rrBoil creek water and pour into a cup.
  2. Add a rounded teaspoon of espresso grind coffee and let it sit on top of the water for a minute.
  3. Stir the coffee and let sit another minute or two.

Enjoy a great cup of coffee, but don’t drink the sludge at the bottom of your cup. It’s biodegradable, so there’s no mess and no fuss! 

Senyard Falls

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We hopped out of the truck and headed down the steep incline, slipping and sliding with excitement as we went. From far below we heard the soft roar of a creek. I wanted to approach the falls from downstream, so we followed the upper bench south until it met with a small drainage leading down to creek level. 

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Roy_10As last week’s August rains fell, I knew it was time to revisit Senyard Falls, named for a great person we lost last month. To learn a little about Roy Senyard, read Loss of a Friend.

Hiker-dog and I got started later than we’d planned but the drive up Hwy 23 (Pig Trail Scenic Byway) was beautiful underneath a cloud cover and occasional patches of fog.

IMG_9610After bushwhacking down to creek level, we began making our way upstream, stopping for a few photos along the way. Hiker-dog was excited and made many trips up to the rim of the hollow and back down for a reassuring pat on the back. She took several cooling dips in the water.

As we made our way upstream, I caught a hint of campfire smoke and thought someone must have camped on a bench above the hollow. It turns out the camper was a friendly guy named Robert who had hammock camped the night before over boulders next to the creek. We visited briefly then moved to the base of Senyard Falls.

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Robert and Hiker-dog

After a couple of quick photos, the sun came out from behind the clouds so we moved to another position and waited for better light. Waiting was a good decision. The light never got right for another photo, but sitting under the bluff of Senyard Falls for an hour gave my mind exactly what was needed. Hiker-dog sat quietly as if she understood the importance this time. Or, maybe she was worn out from all her ridge running.

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I finally used the sunny scene for a short video clip of the falls. Tim Ernst says that sitting next to a waterfall has healing qualities. Spending time next to Roy Senyard Falls today definitely had that effect.

My First Trail

This kind post from my Cousin Sue took me back in time.

Absolutely still very proud of my cousin Jim Warnock on the publication of his book, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. I re-read Ms. Cantrell’s review and realized that I was one of those friends who shared Jim’s love of “the Cherokee Trail” at the back of his folks’ home on Calion Highway in south Arkansas. While I did not do any overnights on the trail, I can still smell the pines and hear their needles rustle in the wind. Magical memories! Thanks, Uncle Jimmy, for cutting the trail, and congrats again, Jim!

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1970s photo of “my trail” with my Kodak Instamatic

That little trail and adjacent woods were a palette that colored many childhood memories. There was time for climbing trees, swinging on vines, and looking at the sky in wonder. I once lay flat on my back in pine straw and gazed at a blue sky while strong winds bathed the swaying pines above. My heart felt light, and my mind soared with thoughts of a hopeful future.

Instamatic cameraAs it turned out, my teenage mind couldn’t comprehend how wonderful life would be and the undeserved gifts that would come my way. Hardships? Yes, but by comparison, they were cluttered corners in a large room filled with blessings.

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Walking the Ouachita Trail in 2018

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Giving thanks.

Loss of a Friend

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Roy Senyard on the OHT (photographer unknown)

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On July 28th, the trails of Arkansas and many hiking enthusiasts lost a good friend. Roy Senyard was deeply committed to maintaining the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) and served as Maintenance Coordinator for many years. Roy and his wife, Norma, also volunteered on trails in Colorado and other locations out west. 

In 2009, Roy encouraged me to adopt the section of trail west of Dockery Gap. That 4-mile section of trail has meant a great deal to my personal health and sense of ownership of the OHT. 

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L-R Roy Senyard and Duane Woltjen, two great builders of trail.

Roy was plain-speaking and didn’t have much patience with folks who talked but didn’t do. He got stuff done, but you had fun and laughed a lot in the process! He was an expert sawyer and made thousands of cuts to clear trails for others to walk.

During the Vietnam War, Roy served as a medic. He was a gutsy guy, not easily rattled while out on the trail. He knew how to get onto the OHT using obscure backroads known by few. There weren’t many forest roads in the Ozarks that he hasn’t driven to access a downed tree or washed out tread.

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Roy, on the distant right, taking a break from work on Hare Mountain. L-R Mike Lemaster, Bob Robinson, and Chris Adams.

We used to laugh when Roy gave maintenance reports to the Ozark Highlands Trail Association. He often began by saying there wasn’t much to report and then he’d launch into a lengthy summary of work recently completed and work needing to be done as Norma tried to signal him to wrap it up.

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Roy’s smoky cut

During a US Forest Service chainsaw training, Roy demonstrated a cut on a cedar log. His attention to safety and technique was impeccable, but he had inadvertently put a dull chain on his saw. This became evident to all as smoke engulfed him while making the cut. He was a little embarrassed and may have uttered an expletive or two, but we had a good laugh, knowing he was top-of-the-line when it came to anything related to trail maintenance.

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Roy and his wife, Norma, were a team. They both maintained and hiked trails. They thru-hiked the OHT and walked many miles in the Ozarks, Rocky Mountains, and other locations. They loved to bring the grandkids to Hare Mountain and let them experience hiking and nature.

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Roy and Norma on the OHT

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Preparing for a day hike at Tyler Bend

I’m going to miss Roy. He was the type of friend you might not see for a year, then run into as I did recently at Tyler Bend, and take up as if no time had passed. I’m thankful to have known Roy Senyard and will think and speak of him often, especially when walking the trails.

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Roy Senyard Falls, named by Tim Ernst in recognition of Roy’s commitment to the OHT. Thanks to Eric Scowden for the photo.

Whole Life Challenge: Taking Life Up a Notch

 

Sometimes we need a little motivational kick in the pants. That’s what I thought Whole Life Challenge might do, but it was a boost and much more.

By taking concrete steps to address 7 specific daily habits that are important to health, you move toward a better self physically, mentally, and spiritually. The seven habits include Nutrition, Exercise, Mobilize, Sleep, Hydrate, Well-being, and Reflect.

Exercise and hydration were the easiest habits for me, but being more consistent with workout times and prescribing the amount of water based on body weight made me more consistent in both areas.

Mobilize (stretching) and well-being (meditation) are two areas where I struggle. I learned that becoming mindful of my breathing and stride while walking helps me enter a form of meditation that meets the challenge and benefits me personally. I’ve come to enjoy stretching as never before, avoiding monotony by varying stretches each day. 

Sleep was an underrated habit in my thinking, but it has a significant impact. By increasing time and consistency of rest, I’m feeling better and more ready to exercise each morning. I feel awake throughout the day and can avoid bad snack choices resulting from fatigue.

The reason I was attracted to Whole Life Challenge was my struggle with nutrition. I’ve been surprised how easy making some changes has been and how much the loss of a point motivates me to make good decisions. Resources and readings provided have been helpful, with practical advice on which foods to choose and which to avoid.

I’m not receiving any financial incentive from Whole Life Challenge. The only benefits to me are health and wellness. It’s an excellent motivational tool for anyone wishing to establish healthier habits.

Twitter: @wholelife

Website: Whole Life Challenge

Hiker-dog Jim

Hiker-dog, my personal trainer for daily walks and longer weekend treks.

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Hiking in the Ozarks for exercise and mental health! Photo from Five Star Trails: The Ozarks

Humidity, Blackberries, and Pierce Pettis

Ozarks heat, humidity, and a few fresh blackberries on the Lake Alma Trail helped heal my soul yesterday evening. While walking, I listened to several songs written by Pierce Pettis in the 1990s and was stuck that his lyrics are relevant today. “Everyday you see ’em / Live from the lap of luxury / It’s the lions of the colosseum / With politicians, millionaires / You won’t see Mother Teresa there.” 

Lions of the Colosseum

By Pierce Pettis

Upon this rock let us build our church
Said the lions of the colosseum
And as the Christians wander in
We can lock the doors and eat ’em
Drink the blood of the saints
Roll the poor for pocket change
Then on our knees we will give thanks
Said the lions of the colosseum

I saw Dorothy Day on the barricades
She was hanging with comrade Jesus
But the lions did not see a thing
They were rendering unto Caesar
Roman soldiers did their best
To silence those who would protest
They had a warrant out for Dorothy’s arrest
From the lions of the colosseum

In chains of ancient history
The church is a museum
Cobwebs hang like rosaries
Inside a mausoleum
Whose surfaces are clean and white
While inside rotting corpses lie
And so they like to keep the lid on tight
Those lions of the colosseum

Let us build a tower to the sky
And let it reach to heaven
We shall be as gods, we shall not die
And our reign shall be forever
So the lions built from age to age
Til they made a Babel of the faith
And tore the body in a thousand different ways
Like in the colosseum

Now on the satellite TV
Everyday you see ’em
Live from the lap of luxury
It’s the lions of the colosseum
With politicians, millionaires
You won’t see Mother Teresa there
Just the holy rollers with the manes of hair
Lions of the colosseum

But there’s rebel graffiti on the walls
Inside the colosseum
Down below in the catacombs
The defiant ones are meeting
Hiding in the underground
Blood brothers pass the cup around
And they pay no heed to the roaring sound
Of the lions of the colosseum

A little more Pierce Pettis along with his daughter, Grace, and Jonathan Kingham. I tend to like song writers who include coffee as a topic.

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View along the Lake Alma Trail

Chapters on Main, a Refuge for Learning

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My love for local bookstores was solidified during college when I worked at Adams Bookstore in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Mr. Adams was like a mentor to me during that time. I wrote about his influence during those crucial years in another post.

In 2016, I learned of a bookstore with character and good coffee right down the road in Van Buren. Walking into Chapters on Main is like stepping into a private refuge filled with books and the pleasant smell of coffee. You’ll often see young customers sipping coffee while exploring the shelves, using the wireless, or participating in book study groups. Marla Cantrell beautifully tells this bookstore’s story in Do South Magazine, The Best Chapter Yet.

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Young people enjoying coffee in the reading room

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I was pleased to do my first book signing at Chapters on Main, and they’ve continued to carry Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. It makes me proud to see my book in the company of other Arkansas authors in a locally owned bookstore that provides a wonderful learning hub for our community.

I have another book signing on Saturday, July 21, from 12:00-2:00 p.m. Ride the train, then pick up your guidebook and let’s talk about trails. Fall is just around the corner!


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The coffee shop is usually busy. I recommend the double shot espresso!

IMG_9034rrExcellent shopping is found all along the street next to Chapters on Main. The train depot and veterans park are located across the street.

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Train depot viewed from Chapters on Main

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Little Taste of Tennessee

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Taylor taking in the view next to Falling Water River

On our first visit to my daughter and her husband’s new home in Cookeville, Tennessee, my son-in-law offered to take me on a short hike along Falling Water River.  I jumped at the chance, knowing the next day would be filled by a 500-mile drive back to the Ozarks.

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I liked the sound of the river’s name, and Taylor said waterfalls were on the menu. After a 20-minute drive, we were walking along the river’s edge wading out on the pitted Mississippian limestone shore.

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A “smaller” set of falls located upriver from Big Falls

The water flow was greater than I anticipated on this popular stretch of river. Several waterfalls were formed as the main riverbed eroded and fell away over time.

The trail comes to Big Falls Overlook before switching back down to the upper deck of Big Falls. Metal stairs leading to the base of the falls were closed due to past flood damage. My only regret on this beautiful day was that we didn’t have more time to explore. 

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Two of many hikers next to “Big Falls” on this sunny day.

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The appropriately named “Big Falls” where a powerhouse was once located down below.

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Fern growing in the moist rocky bluffs above the river.

Here’s a link to the Burgess Falls State Park Brochure

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One lost “soul” along the trail.