Sharing the Trails at Devil’s Den State Park

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Small falls upstream from Marinoni Falls on the OHT

I’m looking forward to sharing a thru-hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail in photos and stories on Saturday, February 25, at 3:45. The program will be in the pavilion at Devil’s Den State Park. I’ll also share some photos from Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. If you’re in the area, come out and make a day…or weekend of it. Great camping and trails at Devil’s Den!

Five Star Trails Poster 022517 Trail Symposium

Microsoft Word - 2017 Arkansas Trails Symposium Schedule

My Little Piece of the OHT

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Jack Creek at the east end of my adopted section.

Today we hiked about eight miles out and back to check my adopted section of the Ozark Highlands Trail. It runs four miles following the creek drainage from Dockery Gap Trailhead west to the campsite on Jack Creek.

img_9367rrI was surprised to see a brand new trailhead kiosk. At some time in the past, I emailed a request for a kiosk here since the Dockery Gap Trailhead served as the main entrance point during construction of the Lake Fort Smith State Park. I hope it lasts and is left alone.

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While we’re on the subject of signage, the new mile markers look good, showing miles from both directions. I like the OHT logo, too!

Temperatures were in the low 60s, unusual for this time of year. We (Hiker-dog and I) saw a total of 8 hikers during the day. I met a couple of backpackers from Oklahoma finishing up as we started out. They gave me a good report on trail conditions. Another backpacker crossed the road heading east as I arrived and three more hikers were coming out of the Jack Creek drainage as I was going down.

Close to the Jack Creek campsite, we met a couple from Michigan, hiking from Lake Fort Smith State Park to Big Piney. I enjoyed visiting with them, and they seemed to enjoy Hiker-dog’s enthusiastic attention. I was impressed that they traveled from Michigan specifically to do the OHT. They looked prepared and were hiking strong, so I have no doubt that they’ll have a good trip.

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Kyle and Mary from Michigan

Crossing one of the drainages I was reminded of the power of nature. A set of large boulders I’ve passed many times had been rearranged by flooded creeks sometime since my last visit.

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This lone patch of Daffodils hinted at earlier residents a short distance from the trail. I’d never noticed domesticated flowers on my section of the OHT before.

img_9379rrThe always-reliable, “Rusty Spring” was flowing as usual. Hiker-dog passed it by, so I followed her example and fought the urge to take a sip.

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Jack Creek at the west end of my adopted section.

As I filtered water from Jack Creek, Hiker-dog took a dip and then went upstream to introduce herself to the couple from Michigan. I came along later and met them.

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Ecstasy!

On this warm day, Hiker-dog went for water often. She takes great delight in lowering herself into a pool of water, shaking off and then dipping again.

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The shake.

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A cool dog…

After her cooling swim, Hiker is ready to run. I didn’t jump into the creek, but the water was refreshing to drink. I looked forward to walking the four miles back to the trailhead, enjoying a freshly cleared trail from our trip out. Far from being a chore, maintaining my little piece of the OHT is a joy!

If you’re in the area, come to the Arkansas Trails Symposium at Devil’s Den State Park on February 25. I’ll share my Ozark Highlands Trail thru-hike in photos and stories at 3:45 p.m. and have Five Star Trails: The Ozarks on hand for signing afterward.

Microsoft Word - 2017 Arkansas Trails Symposium Schedule

Scott’s Ozark Highlands Trail

I enjoyed viewing this 21-minute video by my friend, Scott Branyon. It’s a record of his hike from Lake Fort Smith State Park to Woolum. I was proud to be on Scott’s first backpacking trip on the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT). Recently, I witnessed his completion of the 165-miles.

Completing this trail creates a sense of ownership, so the OHT is now Scott’s trail. Congratulations to my friend on his accomplishment. Hiker-dog enjoyed accompanying Scott on a couple of his trips and hopes to complete her OHT soon.

Little-Known Arkansas Poet

john-allen-adams-poetryI worked in John Allen Adams’ bookstore while a student at Henderson State University. John was a remarkable man. He was quadriplegic from a high school football injury, but he built his own business and was a central figure of learning in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Dr. Charles Hughes has written his story in a wonderful book, A Fortune Teller’s Blessing.

I have a copy of John’s book of poems, I Walk Toward the Sound of My Days, first published in 1979. Dr. Hughes was instrumental in making this book available again. In rereading his poems, I’m struck by their continued relevance and timeless quality. Below is one poem that captures what motivates me to occasionally escape the frantic trappings of society and “give equal time to joy.”

Ten O’Clock News
by John Allen Adams

Must I keep tuned to the world’s ill?
Who condemned me to watch
the ten o’clock news for sixty years?
I know, I know – the world’s close-knit,
and a heart must be more than four fingers wide
to pump what the world needs;
but still, should I feel truant for a holiday?

What if I push the button and clamor
no longer rings through these vaults;
and then in the silence
still, small voices come healing the spirit –
cicadas, and crickets, and mockingbirds?
The mockingbird singing in a summer night –
this draft of joy would cheer even a Saul!

Tomorrow and tomorrow I shall be prompt,
tuned to the latest news;
but tonight I give equal time to joy.

Ambience: Comforting Light

WordPress Photo Challenge: Ambience 

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Smith Creek in the Buffalo National River region

I was immediately smitten on my first visit to Smith Creek Conservation Area. The ambience was soothing and inviting. Deep greens comforted my soul and I felt thankfulness while standing in the middle of this creek.

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Looking downstream on Smith Creek

Follow this link for more about Smith Creek.

Five Star Trails: The Ozarks includes map, trail description, and driving directions for Smith Creek Trail.

The Ozarks – feedback from readers

dyer-lfs-0117r“Enjoyed the great outdoors at Lake Fort Smith yesterday using our copy of Jim Warnock’s book, The Ozarks! We’re already planning future hikes with it too! 10/10 would recommend purchasing it! All we needed was our own Hiker-dog!”  – Trey, Delaney and Darian

Wish these kids could have seen the smile on my face when I receive their message and photo. My biggest kick comes from seeing my book on the trail. Knowing it’s relevant to these energetic young people is a bonus. Below are comments for The Ozarks posted on Amazon.com. I’m thankful that hikers are liking my two-year labor of love!

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Seeing The Ozarks at Pack Rat in Fayetteville was a thrill!

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am This is a very helpful book for anyone interested in hiking in the Ozarks. Whether you are a beginner or an avid hiker there is an Ozark trail here for you. We are especially interested in the Mulberry and Buffalo rivers and were happy to see that several of the trails are in those areas. Looking forward to seeing how many of these we can mark off our list in the upcoming year…

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am I enjoy hiking and found Jim Warnock’s guidebook an excellent source for planning and making decisions about trails in the Ozarks. I have hiked some of the trails he described, but the additional information is greatly appreciated. I plan to continue making great use of the book for future adventures. Mr. Warnock displays great insights into enjoyable hiking adventures and it is certainly very evident he speaks from vast experiences in the great outdoors. I certainly appreciate his work on this publication and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in the beauty of the outdoors.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am Invaluable resource for nature lovers who would like to experience the great beauty of the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks. Hikers will find the detailed information particularly helpful.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am Excellent read. Planning already.

Visit my author page on Amazon to see reviews and my book signing schedule.

Snowy Walk on Our Home Trail

 

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Hiker checking out the Hexagon House next to the trail

Hiker-dog and I had a wonderful hike yesterday morning on a snowy Lake Alma Trail. She loves the snow! We walked from home so no driving on icy roads was involved.

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View of the lake from a spot normally under water

 

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Hiker-dog searching for moles

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Ice at Mc Water Falls

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Hiker looking down the Mc Water Falls drainage 

It was tempting to sleep in on this 20-degree morning but we were richly rewarded for spending time on the trail.

A new section of the OHT for Hiker-dog: Hurricane Creek Wilderness

img_8431rrDecember 29: This trek through the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area would bring Hiker-dog closer to completing the Ozark Highlands Trail. It was also the final section needed for one of our group to finish the traditional 165-miles of the OHT. img_8371rrOne vehicle approached the bridge as we crossed, but the driver stopped and gave us a friendly wave as we continued across the one-lane bridge.img_8390rrThe winter woods were open and clear under sunny skies. img_8405rrEric and Hiker-dog paused to take in the views at the slow running Hurricane Creek. The water was as clear and the bottom of the creek was as slippery as I remembered. Even Hiker-dog’s four paws slipped a time or two. img_8433rrBob and Eric did some rock hopping to cross dry. Scott, Hiker-dog, and I all chose to wade the creek. img_8442rrIt looked like Scott found a deep spot in the creek, but we all made it across dry and ready to move on up the trail.  img_8475rrWinter leaf-off is a good time to view Natural Bridge perched at the top of bluffs on the west side of Hurricane Creek. img_8493rrThanks to Eric for noticing the color reflecting upstream. We took turns photographing the scene with my camera since Eric’s camera batteries were drained. img_8507rrHiker seemed to enjoy showing off by hopping rocks as the sun continued to move lower in the sky. img_8512rrWe were in our tents by 7 p.m., lulled to sleep by the gentle sounds of Hurricane Creek below our campsite. Coyotes let loose a chorus of howls late in the night, but I find their distant cries relaxing and part of the beauty of nighttime in the Ozarks. Temperatures got down to the mid-20s.

img_8594rrAround midnight, I answered nature’s call and enjoyed looking at the starry sky for a moment before returning to my tent. I discovered Hiker-dog curled up on my down blanket rather than her Thermarest sleeping pad. When she felt my feet under the quilt, she moved back to her bed, sorry that I didn’t see the need for her to have a down bed.

December 30: After passing through beautiful woods along the Hurricane Creek (and doing some pretty intense climbing) we dropped back down to creek level and a favorite historical chimney. img_8560rrAfter the east crossing of Hurricane Creek, we passed the Highwater Bypass and continued toward Chancel and our campsite at a small creek that eventually feeds into Buck Brn Creek.

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no-name creek

This little creek without a name is imprinted on my memory. On one of my early hikes through the Hurricane Creek area, a friend ran out of water after we passed this creek and suffered heat exhaustion. He made it out but was pretty sick for a couple of days. I always check my water carefully when passing this creek just prior to mile 115.

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Scott filtering water at our second campsite

We found excellent water at our second campsite located between mile 119 and 120. Another nameless creek, it always seems to have water.

All meals seemed to taste better on that second night, maybe because of the more than nine hilly miles we’d hiked. Bob commented that Hiker was an 8-mile dog because she slept soundly as we ate. She bounced back strong the next morning.

December 31: The next morning we walked through beautiful boulder fields making our way toward Chancel junction.

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Using Hiker to put the size of boulders in perspective

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Chancel junction

Coming down into the Buck Brn Creek was a treat visually, but it meant a lot of climbing on the other side as we made our way toward Fairview Trailhead. img_8647rrBob reminded me of the arched shape of the bridge below Forest Road 1209A. I dropped down for a few pictures before rejoining the group on the trail and the big climb toward Fairview. img_8650rrimg_8656rrAfter lots of huffing and puffing, we arrived at the trip’s end. Celebrations were in order as this was the last section Scott needed to complete 165-mile of the OHT. We were proud of his accomplishment.

We’re also looking forward to Hiker-dog’s completion of the OHT. I think the thru-hike patch will look good on her pack, but the real reward is good times spent with good people exploring the Ozarks!img_8420rr

If you’d like to read the story of how Hiker-dog first joined us on the trail in 2014: Walk, Eat, Sleep, Repeat – Fairview to Tyler Bend and a New Hiking Partner