New Lake Alma Trail and Disc Golf Map

IMG_1850rr

The following link will open a pdf of the Lake Alma Trail Map and Disc Golf Map, suitable for printing or using with your electronic device. We’ll eventually post this link on the City of Alma website. Hardcopies are being distributed through Arkansas Tourism Visitor Centers.

Alma Park Map 2017

  • Thank you to Western Arkansas Planning and Development Commission and Rep Charlotte Douglas for design grant.
  • Thank you Crawford County Advertising and Promotion Commission for printing grant.
  • Thanks to Mayor Keith Greene, the City of Alma staff, and Harry McWater, for technical assistance and support.
  • Thank you to Arkansas Master Naturalists for inspiring me to invest the time to write grants!
  • Thank you to Calvert McBride Printers in Fort Smith
  • Thank you to Kristian Underwood, for his commitment to producing beautiful and functional maps, whether for a city park or the Ozark Highlands Trail!

IMG_1848rr

A Father’s Influence Along Life’s Trail

R001-028rr

“Helping” my dad do some yard work a few years ago.

Happy Father’s Day –

I have some of my father’s traits and am thankful for those in every case. Sadly, I did not get his 6-pack abs or shiny dark hair, but I’m thankful to have inherited his legs and his enjoyment for walking our little planet. (Use link to read more….)

Source: A Father’s Influence Along Life’s Trail

New Map of Lake Alma Trail and Rec Areas

LAT Map 1

partial page 1

Coming soon! A beautiful map of the Lake Alma Trail, Disc Golf and recreation areas designed by Underwood Geographics.

  • Thank you to Western Arkansas Planning and Development Commission and Rep Charlotte Douglas for design grant.
  • Thank you Crawford County Advertising and Promotion Commission for printing grant.
  • Thanks to Mayor Keith Greene, the City of Alma staff, and Harry McWater, for technical assistance and support. 
  • Thank you to Arkansas Master Naturalists for inspiring me to invest the time to write grants!
  • Thank you to Calvert McBride Printers in Fort Smith
  • Thank you to Kristian Underwood, for his commitment to producing beautiful and functional maps, whether for a city park or the Ozark Highlands Trail!

We’ll be able to share this map/brochure in print and digital forms soon!

LAT Map 2

partial page 2

Hiking the Marinoni Scenic Area with Exploring Arkansas

IMG_1352rr

Chuck in the Marinoni Scenic Area

It’s always an honor to post on the Menasha Ridge Press Blog. Here’s a post about sharing the Marinoni Scenic Area with Chuck Dovish of Exploring Arkansas, a program from the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN).

Hiking the Marinoni Scenic Area with Exploring Arkansas

Below is an email I sent Chuck following our trip. It reflects my thoughts about the value of what he does. He has an authentic love for the natural areas of our state and helps us all celebrate their discovery and preservation. Chuck#2 was what we called the videographer during our hike.

Dovish

Chuck’s episode about the Lake Alma Trail begins 7 min. and 15 seconds into this Youtube link.

Evening Walk in the Marinoni

IMG_1270rrHiker-dog and I scouted a route into the Marinoni Scenic Area on Monday evening. Hiking late in the day offered views in a new light, but my concern was how long that light would last in this deep Ozark hollow. IMG_1268rrThe woods were alive with the sounds of flowing water. Briar Branch and the inlets on each side were flowing nicely. I recorded a few seconds of the waterfall as seen from the trail above.

I caught Hiker-dog in a rare pause at the base of one of my favorite bluffs. She was excited to see this area again and explore the ridges above and creek below the trail.IMG_1294rrA copperhead was enjoying the warmth next to a tall bluff. I wondered if this snake was alright at first because it was in an awkward pose, almost as if smelling the surroundings. It remained in this position while I took photos and then moved on. IMG_1264rrI enjoy seeing snakes in their natural environment, but I will admit that I watched my step a little more carefully after meeting my copperhead friend. Hiker-dog never came close to the snake. I’m sure they smelled each other’s presence. I’ve read that snakes will sometimes “dry bite” to defend themselves against mammals that aren’t a food source. Snakes prefer to save their venom for killing things that are good to eat, not dogs or people.IMG_1286rrrI set the camera on a rock in the middle of Briar Branch to record this view upstream as the sun drifted lower in the sky. We then explored the little cave next to the Paul Marinoni sign placed here many years ago by the Ozark Highlands Trail Association. IMG_1246rrWe scrambled uphill to have a close look at the Natural Bridge. During leaf-off, I’ve viewed this rock formation from the trail below, but it wasn’t visible with all of the spring growth. One of my favorite photos from an earlier hike caught the morning sun underneath the bridge. Today I realized the “bridge” was smaller than I thought. A unique little formation at the top of the bluff. IMG_1313rr

IMG_9846rr

Natural Bridge during a winter hike

Today’s hike was special because of the cool temperatures, flowing water, evening light, and good company provided by Hiker-dog and my calm copperhead. I didn’t need my headlamp but was glad to have it in my pack. Darkness came as we drove back toward home, thinking about all the beauty we’d seen on this trail.

Going With the Flow on Our “Home Trail”

IMG_1190rrI woke at midnight to a lightning show and intense rain. I pulled back the window curtains to get a better look then went back to sleep anticipating this morning’s walk on my “home trail,” alive with flowing water.IMG_1213rrBluffs rained down along my approach to Mc Water Falls. This was a good sign and meant I was in for a treat.IMG_1204rrMcWater Falls ran strong and the water almost seemed to generate its own breeze in the hollow below the falls.IMG_1219rrSometimes you catch yourself entranced as you look down a trail. Colors seem deeper and filled with contrast after a storm.IMG_1220rrWe heard Little Frog Bayou long before arriving at the bridge. I exclaimed to Hiker-dog, “This is how you fill up a lake!” The bridge had held strong, so we crossed but not without sitting in the middle for a few minutes to appreciate the roar.

I enjoy seeing, hearing and even feeling water when hiking in the Ozarks. The best hikes tend to be the ones where you get your feet wet. Today was no exception!

A Shiny Chain – Mother’s Day Poem

I wrote the following poem as a thank you note to my mother. She’s an amazing lady and continues to inspire.

A Shiny Chain

R001-018rThis one who chose to give us life
Now sits with quiet kind eyes.
She wishes for strength
To serve others as in her past
Unaware that her gentle presence
Now serves all who stand within her gaze.

Surrounded by friends and borrowed flowers
She and my young father were married.
They shared their vows as he left for war
Loving through letters and cold nights apart.
Upon his return, they had a son and daughter
And then they did the most remarkable thing!

In a world filled with dread and strife
They did right things again and again
Making of their lives a shiny chain,
Each link tempered in courage and goodness.

Many have touched this lengthy chain
And felt its strength of love and promise.
These links connect us all to their love’s beginning
Sharing sweet stories polished smooth from our remembering.

Jim Elsie Jimmy

IMG_1287rr

Arkansas Master Naturalists: Pausing to Learn

Ark Master Nat logoSince January I’ve been involved in training with Arkansas Master Naturalists (AMN), putting a crimp in my hiking plans but with great rewards. It’s easy to plow ever forward almost mindlessly from one outdoor adventure to another without appreciating the gifts to be found along the trails.

Becoming a Master Naturalist required completing 40 hours of formal training on Saturdays, so I sacrificed some trail time, but I met a great group of diverse people with many talents and areas of expertise. This training served as a beginning point for future learning and helped me realize how little I know about our natural world. The AMN encourages participants to follow their interests in learning and volunteer efforts.

At the graduation program while listening to others discuss our path to this point, I decided to draw a visual aid to show how the training lays a foundation for future learning and service to our environment. My favorite part of this visual is the two arrows up and out indicating future work and continued learning. Master Naturalist graphic0517.001My formal pause for learning is coming to an end, but I’ll be sure to slow down and look more carefully as I hike along the trails. I also look forward to meeting my classmates as we volunteer in service to our natural areas.

Now, my mind is buzzing with ideas for future trips. So many trails and so little time!

DSCN0379rr

A few of the graduates of the Naturalists in Training

DSCN0383rr

Tom was my mentor and encourager