Ozark Highlands Trail Inside Bella Vista

The title of this post is a little misleading. The Ozark Highlands Trail write-up is inside the magazine, Inside Bella Vista. I’m pleased to have a couple of photos and quotes in Lisa Florey’s article about the OHT. She did a excellent job telling this beautiful trail’s story. Begins on page 18 of the online publication.

OHT-Lisa-Florey_1

This waterfall on Shepherd Spring Loop Trail is from my book, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks.

I’m looking forward to sharing the first 160 miles of the Ouachita Trail on Sunday, February 11th at 6 p.m. The Ozark Highlands Trail Association meeting is free and open to the public.

Location: Washington County Extension Office at 2536 McConnell Rd. in Fayetteville, Arkansas. To get there from I-540 take Exit 66 south on AR 112 (Garland Ave), turn west at Drake Street stop light to reach McConnell Rd, turn south to WCES near the fair grounds. For gps users: 36.098 latitude 94.180 longitude

Ouachita Trail 0-160 Miles with More to Come

Take a five-minute photo tour of our first 160 miles of the Ouachita Trail. We’re looking forward to adding the final 60 miles soon!

On Sunday, February 11, at 6 p.m., I’ll share preparation, packing light strategies, and a visual tour of the first 160 miles of the Ouachita Trail. This free event is open to the public. There is a time of fellowship, so bring some snacks to share.

Who?: Ozark Highlands Trail Association and guests

What?: The Ouachita (Wash’-i-taw) Trail: Preparation, packing to travel light, and a photo tour of the first 160 miles. Bonus – Children’s book, Gift From the Ozarks, telling Hiker-dog’s story.

When?: Sunday, February 11, at 6 p.m.

Where?: Washington County Extension Office at 2536 McConnell Rd. in Fayetteville, Arkansas. To get there from I-540 take Exit 66 south on AR 112 (Garland Ave), turn west at Drake Street stop light to reach McConnell Rd, turn south to WCES near the fair grounds. For gps users: 36.098 latitude 94.180 longitude

A Painted Walk

LAT013018_3This evening’s walk brought the magic of color. I’d carried only my smartphone camera, but it captured the color I was seeing.

LAT013018_2

Light show at the shore

I hurried to the water’s edge when I realized the potential light show I would find. Hiker-dog was excited for another reason and strode proudly into the water for her evening bath.

LAT013018_5

The places closest to us often surprise and amaze if we’re paying attention. This evening’s painted walk was no exception.

LAT013018_1

What We Drop on a Quiet Trail

IMG_5933rr

Crossing Little Frog Bayou

Hiker-dog and I both needed the trail this evening! The trappings of life and full schedules had left us both tight and in need of a hike.

At the end of our 3-minute drive, I was surprised to see an empty parking lot. We walked the whole 4-mile loop without seeing another person. Part of the reason might have been recent rains that made Little Frog Bayou a wet crossing.

After watching Hiker cross, I paused and sat down for a photo of the creek. A minute later I realized she was sitting quietly at my back. Stealthy little dog!

IMG_5941rr

Slightly wet crossing at Little Frog Bayou

We continued at a brisk pace since light was fading. At one point Hiker-dog paused and took that familiar backward glance as if to say, “So, are you coming?”

IMG_5942rr

Hiker’s backward glance

As the day drew to a close, I realized that my feelings of anxiety and stress had passed down through my legs and into the trail. What a gift to have this beautiful path sitting quietly in our own backyard!

IMG_5944rr

End of the day over Lake Alma

Talking Trails at Hobbs State Park

Hobbs 012118_2

Sharing the joys of down layering

The next best thing to walking the trails is talking the trails. I had a great time with the Friends of Hobbs State Park on Sunday sharing my thru-hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail and Hiker-dog’s story. A young man from the audience assisted me by unpacking my pack as I described changes that resulted in a lighter load. I let him try my down vest, but he shed it pretty quickly due to its warmth.

After sharing my children’s book intended for second graders, Hiker-dog entered the room at the end. She enjoyed some petting and then curling up on the floor as the program continued.

Hobbs 012118_3

Jim Flickinger assisted with Hiker-dog

Just under ninety were in the audience. They were responsive, asking good questions and sharing their enthusiasm. The hour flew by!

IMG_5699rr

Almost 90 in attendance!

Steve Chyrchel, Hobbs State Park Interpreter, does a great job promoting programs and sets the schedule far in advance. He’s already scheduled me for March 3, 2019!

IMG_5697rr

Sallyann making announcements

Sallyann Brown, a fly casing instructor, heads up the Friends of Hobbs programs and always makes folks feel comfortable. When I presented the John Muir Trail in September, she made me promise to bring Hiker-dog if I returned.

Hiker-dog enjoyed the attention. I enjoyed signing copies of my book, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks, and talking trails with folks after the program.

Below you’ll find the Friends of Hobbs Speaker Series for 2018.

Hobbs schedule 1

Hobbs schedule 2

Variations on an Icy Theme

WordPress Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme

IMG_5449rr

I captured these images next to the Lake Alma Trail on a recent morning. They’re variations of the same theme from the same scene.

IMG_5483rr

Endless variations in texture…

IMG_5457rr

IMG_5479rr

IMG_5413rr

Various perspectives on the same ice…

IMG_5396rr

Frozen McWater Falls on the Lake Alma Trail

Icy bonus shots: These are not from the same location, but do fit with variations on the theme. Frost Flowers on the Ouachita (Wash’-i-taw) Trail a few weeks ago.

IMG_5193rr

IMG_5160rr

IMG_5181rr

IMG_5171rr

The Lake Alma Trail and 42 more of the best trails in the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri can be found in my book, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks.

Silent and Pensive Hiker-Dog

WordPress Photo Challenge: Silence

Current River Owls Bend Vista 1

Relaxing above the Current River in Missouri

When I read the photo challenge for this week, I immediately thought of Hiker-dog. A trait I like is that she is always silent through the night, whether at home or in the Ozark Forests. Sometimes she sits silently looking awestruck by the beauty of the Ozarks.

img_8431rr

Hurricane Creek

Even though she’s a dog, it seems like she expresses a worshipful gratitude for natural places. I sometimes wonder if her near-death experience on the Ozark Highlands Trail where we first met four years ago accounts for her sense of appreciation. Or, maybe she’s just intently looking for a squirrel. Regardless, she’s a silent trail partner until it’s time to eat.

img_6994rr

Mulberry River

IMG_6363rr

Camping close to the Salt Fork River on the Ozark Highlands Trail

IMG_1499rr

Hiker-dog in awe of nature…or is that a squirrel up there?

IMG_3481rrr

Hiker taking a break on the Redding Loop Trail

………

We’ll be sharing the Ozark Highlands Trail thru-hike on Sunday, January 21, at 2 p.m. at Hobbs State Park’s Visitor Center in Arkansas.  It’s a beautiful venue and Hiker-dog will be there, too! Five Star Trails Poster 012118 Hobbs State Park

The Urge For Going

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Do them now.”  ~Paulo Coelho

IMG_2885rr

John Muir Trail

Yesterday a friend sent me a couple of links for the Rae Lakes Loop in the High Sierras of California. In a short conversation two weeks earlier we’d hatched the idea of hiking this area again. The thought lingered in both of our minds.

IMG_3454rr

John Muir Trail

As I remembered our John Muir Trail experiences, I felt deep thankfulness for that nagging, troubling, and sometimes inspiring “urge for going.” I also felt thankful that I can go, and admonished by the reminder that I have no guarantees of time and strength in my future. All is a gift. Let the planning begin!


I’m looking forward to sharing the Ozark Highlands Trail thru-hike on Sunday, January 21, at 2 p.m. Hobbs State Park’s Visitor Center is a beautiful venue. Hiker-dog will be there, too! Five Star Trails Poster 012118 Hobbs State Park

Music We Hear On the Trails

There’s a rhythm to the trail. Sometimes it develops over time in patterns of the day. When I get deeply submerged in the hiking experience, songs come to mind and they’ll live on in my thoughts as I walk along, spurring me onward.

Below are a few reoccurring songs that I love to hear as I walk. I rarely hike with an iPod and never backpack with one. The songs are in my head, playing all the time….

When I’m feeling strong, “Mountain Dance” runs through my mind. Thank you to Dave Grusin for writing this!

For some reason, Sweet Baby James comes to mine often. It is one of the few songs I’ll sing word for word as I walk along. “Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose, won’t you let me go down in my dreams.” Lots of relaxing words for walking.

Another regular song is “Country Road,” by James Taylor. I think about this one when the trails follow old forest roads. I guess old James Taylor has been a big part of my life’s soundtrack. He has remained creative for the long haul!

This song by Peter Mayer comes to mind when I’m feeling a sense of awe while walking through the woods.

Sometimes I think about change, good and bad. Family memories, loss, and blessings come to mind as Carrie Newcomer’s short song, “Leaves Don’t Drop They Just Let Go” sings in my thoughts.

When I feel the urge to get away, I’ll hear lines from “My Brother Wind”. “Made up my mind to go somewhere so far away, I headed west.”

I am curious if others have favorite songs that accompany them on the trails. Music is an essential part of my life and I’m thankful for musicians who provide a venue for my thoughts while hiking along.

Icy Home Trail

IMG_5413rr

Years ago we asked my youngest daughter about vacation ideas. This young lady is now more widely traveled than her father, but at that time she named several options that we’d already visited. When asked why she liked these places, she said, “Because we’ve been there.”

After 160 new miles on the Ouachita Trail, I understood my daughter’s feelings and looked forward to a walk on my “home trail.” The familiar Lake Alma Trail is comfortable, but continues to provide new sights or sounds. Today was no exception.

IMG_5396rr

McWater Falls

With temperatures in the low 30s, ice remained from the previous days of temperatures dipping into the teens.

IMG_5411rr.jpg

McWater Falls

IMG_5483rr

Ice patterns at the edge of Little Frog Bayou fascinated me. I ended up spending some time along the shore while Hiker-dog enjoyed some leash-free time. IMG_5466rrI’m thankful for the comfort of a familiar trail and my little hiking partner’s energy. Below are a few ice patterns I noticed while on our home trail walk. 

I’m looking forward to sharing the Ozark Highlands Trail and others at Hobbs State Park on Sunday, January 21st at 2 p.m.