Retracing Scenic Highway 7 in Do South Magazine

BarnLeadHillr

Barn near Lead Hill

Do South bylinesI’m always honored to publish in Do South MagazineIt was a treat to share a photo byline with Reese Kennedy, my mother’s older brother. Our drives up Scenic Highway 7 were separated by thirty-eight years, but I discovered some fascinating connections. Below is an excerpt from the article and link to the digital version of  the article.

 

At 5-years old, I approached my mother’s older brother. “Uncle Reese, would you draw me a Texas Longhorn?” He was a soft-spoken art teacher and politely put off my request. Finally, after two days of repeated appeals…

Buffalo R at Hwy 7_1r

Hwy 7 crosses the Buffalo River in Jasper

Camden OuachitaR_2r

Railroad north of Camden where Reese and I both stopped 38-years apart.

 

The Ozarks Always Astonish

“Pay attention, be astonished, write about it.” ~ Mary Oliver

When I walk into the Ozarks, I expect to see some beauty, but again and again, these woods astonish me. Whether walking a repeated trail or bushwhacking into a valley for the first time, the Ozarks always give more than I expect.

Today, Lindsey Hollow might fall into that typical pattern of exceeding expectations. Steve, Chris, and I each drove in separately and maintained our distance while hiking, which is easy to do. Hiking cures all that ails me during this challenging time of COVID-19 and “social distancing.”

By the end of our walk, my eyes were full of beautiful scenes, I felt zero stress, and my muscles achieved a pleasant level of exhaustion. Best of all, I was left with questions that entice me to return. These woods always leave me loaded with gifts!

What follows are a few photos in the sequence of our walk.

IMG_4500rr

Sure footed Hiker-dog

We crossed a couple of waterfalls pouring into Lindsey Hollow from surrounding streams.

IMG_4522rr

IMG_4538rr

Chris and Hiker-dog above a waterfall

IMG_4553rr

We saw large rock walls. I reached across one of the smaller sections and estimated it to be three-feet on top.

IMG_4564rr

Chris and Steve admiring the builders’ work

Lindsey Creek was a beautiful place to explore. We soon realized that we’d need return trips to give this place an honest look.

IMG_4589rr

IMG_4613rr

This close-up of one of the rocks we stepped on to cross the creek isn’t concrete as it first appears, but a conglomerate that includes a variety of pebbles and small fossils.

IMG_4630rr

Lindsey Creek disappeared underground for about twenty yards then emerged in the creek bed and a couple of adjacent “springs.” They appeared as springs, but the water was similar to the creek water, so I doubt that the underground flow was long. Still, they were intriguing.

IMG_4677rr

“Spring” next to Lindsey Creek

A massive rock wall ran alongside the creek. We didn’t see structure footings nearby as would be expected. We might find footings away from the creek to avoid flooding. That exploration would have to wait for another day.

IMG_4655rr

This piece of a wood-burning stove was leaning facedown against a flat rock in the creek bed. After taking photos, I placed the heavy piece of cast iron back where I found it.

IMG_4696rr

Piece of a stove with my shoe for scale.

I wondered if I might learn when it was made by the ornate patterns in the iron. Did it belong to those who built the rock wall next to this creek? Did it belong to another family upstream? This artifact left me with fun questions to ponder while huffing and puffing out of this hollow.

IMG_4709rr

Thanks for coming along on this Lindsey Hollow walk. If you have an idea about the date of that stove, please contact me, and I’ll update this post.

IMG_4715rr

Steve enjoying the view before the hike out.

Repeated Walks

IMG_4084rrWe should hike some trails over and over again, especially when they’re in our backyards. This little 4-mile trail is a 3-minute drive from my home. On this recent morning, I had the trail to myself.

IMG_4090rr

IMG_4101rr

IMG_4111rr

When you walk the same trail many times, you begin to notice the smaller things. Repeated walks on the same trail are never boring. They’re new every time!

IMG_4121rrHere’s a short video message I shared with students while Arkansas schools are closed due to the spread of COVID-19. I wanted to share a local trail and remind students that their vision for the future can have an impact on our community. Enjoy your trails, especially your home trails.

 

Somewhere in the Ozarks

IMG_4013rrA simple long walk in the woods can heal the spirit, and it doesn’t hurt our physical side either. The photos in this post were taken on a Monday walk in the Ozarks, but not on any particular trail. It was a treat to hike with Steve and Chris, both trail enthusiasts and maintainers. I’ll describe our location simply as somewhere in the Ozarks.

Hiker-dog made a full day of it. She must have run twenty miles to our eight walked. I’ve only seen her chew wood out of a log one other time. Must have been something good hiding in there!

I never get tired of looking at rocks. That’s a good thing because we see quite a few in the Ozarks.

IMG_3749rr

Ten-foot tall boulder sitting alone next to a bluff.

IMG_4000rr

Redbuds showed their color down below the tree canopy and this long bluff.

IMG_3910rr

We often see rock walls and old footings from historic structures built by earlier residents.

IMG_3775rr

IMG_4065rr

Old homesite footings

We saw some tall trees during our walk.

IMG_3821rr

Water adds another layer of beauty in the Ozarks. This creek was flowing strong enough that we studied it for a few minutes before crossing.

IMG_3965rr

Water flowing over rock is always special! As we crossed a small drainage, I paused for a photo using a log for my tripod.

IMG_3971rr

The soft gurgling of water made for pleasant hiking next to this stream. My hot feet thanked me for spending a few minutes with this small cascade.

IMG_4040rr

If you’ve ever heard the roar of a waterfall inside a hollow in the Ozarks, you understand how it draws you toward the sound, wondering what you’ll find. These falls looked to be about ten feet high. Nice spot for a break.

IMG_4052rr

Hiker-dog was thrilled to spend a full day exploring the Ozarks, and she appreciated all of the positive attention.

IMG_3976rr

Watching her grooming made me long for a hot shower. After a tough climb, we made it out of the woods and I got my wish.

IMG_3919rr

I completed the day feeling good and thankful for my health.

Rock, wood, and water. How amazing that these elements combine to form such beauty for us to enjoy! When in doubt, get out there somewhere in the Ozarks.

Stronger Than We Know (guest post)

The following was so relevant to our current situation, I asked permission to share. Wisdom born of experience! – Ozarkmountainhiker

Rick Spicer0320

By Rick Spicer, Guest Author

A few words on taking control of your own mind. Each of us as individuals are the sum of our life experiences, and of the relationships we’ve built with those close to us.  For my part, I can only weigh in based on my own challenges and those certainly seem insignificant to me in light of our current issues which I evaluate not based on what our media tells me I should think, but rather what friends in other places around the world are living with as I write this.
IMG_4371rrAs I look back on my life, there are moments that stand out like a distant campfire in the darkness.  Each of those moments required me to make a choice and in that moment there is an opportunity to accept responsibility for my actions.  Having spent much of my life traveling to remote places, I’m reminded of my recent time in a swamp and the mantra that my brother @jasonleesurvival and I would repeat to each other.  “We just have to do today.”

As time went on and food supplies ran low, I felt lighter and heavier at the same time.  Lighter due to the twenty pounds I had lost, and heavier from the weight of uncertainty.   I learned that sometimes small changes in your efforts can lead to positive changes in your situation.

I hand-wove a fish trap from willow twigs and reeds and baited this trap with leftover alligator meat.  We moved the trap around for days but had no luck catching anything.  Eventually Jason killed a cottonmouth which we ate and then used the fresh entrails as bait in the trap.  I realized that it wasn’t a problem with my trap but rather what we were using for bait. I suppose the point here is that seemingly small decisions can have big consequences.  

We will look back on this moment in time and I believe it too will stand out.  What small decisions will we make in the coming days, weeks, months that will have larger than expected results?  I’m reluctant to offer advice, except to say go forward gently.  Be mindful of others and if you find yourself in the dark, know that even the smallest ember is capable of kindling a flame that can light the way.  We are all stronger than we know. Be well. 


Rick is a part owner of Pack Rat Outdoor Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He teaches bushcraft outdoor skills and applies those skills on his personal travels. Follow his adventures on Instagram @packratbushcraft

Mount Magazine Trail to Lift the Spirits

IMG_3408rr

It had been too long since I walked the Mount Magazine Trail from Cove Lake to the top of the mountain.  Saturday’s day hike was a great chance to practice “social distancing” in the woods.  With the concerns over CORVID-19, a hiking trail is the perfect place to get some exercise and safe conversation with others.  We only encountered one couple hiking on the trail.

Becca and I camped at Cove Lake in the truck.  All was quiet in the campground, and temperatures were cool, perfect for sleeping.  I fired up the small propane heater for a few minutes on Saturday morning while preparing eggs, bacon, and potatoes for breakfast.  I wanted plenty of energy on this 10-mile hike that would test the progress of my right knee.

Becca drove the truck to the top of the mountain to meet me in about seven hours.  Steve, Roger, and I began what would be a demanding climb but in perfect weather conditions.  Water wasn’t going to be a concern. Every intermittent stream was flowing.

IMG_3385rr

IMG_3430rr

We saw several big pine trees next to the trail. Steve slowed down so I could get a photo showing the size of this tree.

IMG_3451

When we arrive at Rock Creek, we spent a few minutes finding places to cross safely. I sat next to the creek and then tromped through in my hiking shoes. The cold water felt good!

IMG_3466rr

I spent a few minutes after lunch enjoying the large canopy of a pine as bright sunshine warmed my skin. Crisp air and sunlight poured new energy into my body as I sat staring at the sky.

IMG_3528rrSmall flashes of color whispered that we’re on the front end of spring.

Reflections on a wildlife pond caught my attention.IMG_3587rr

IMG_3596rr

IMG_3661rrSometimes little things next to the trail remind you of the complexity and symmetry in nature.

The final three miles of this hike to Cameron Bluff is one of the great climbs in Arkansas. When you get to the stone steps, you know you’re close to the top!

IMG_3665rr

As the minutes go by, you begin to wonder if someone’s adding more steps on the far end. It’s a heart-pounding climb!

IMG_3695rr

IMG_3699rrr

Top of the steps

Finally, the stairs twist and lead to the road that follows Cameron Bluff. An overlook is nearby and well worth a few extra steps. A short, and thankfully, level walk brings you to the campground. From the campground, it’s a quick trip to the high point of Arkansas at 2,753 feet. I include the Signal Hill (Highpoint) Trail and others in Five Star Trails: The Ozarks.

I always enjoy seeing the historic water fountain at the campground. The fountain is no longer in use, but reminds me of earlier camping trips before the mountain became a state park.

IMG_3727rr

I need to do this Cove Lake to Mount Magazine hike again soon. It gives a great physical workout while lifting the spirits, too!

Edgar Whitney’s Challenge

Edgar Whitney quote1 Hunt's Loop Tr.001

Pre-dawn hike on Hunt’s Loop (Ouachita Trail)

When I met Edgar Whitney over thirty years ago, I was immediately captured by his passion for life and art.  Later I found a copy of his book, revisiting it many times over the years.  The words of Edgar Whitney apply to other crafts like photography, drumming, writing, and even walking.

After twenty-five years as a commercial artist, Edgar Whitney told his boss he was going to pursue watercolor painting.  With the boss’s laughter ringing in his ears, he worked and studied, eventually becoming a leader in the watercolor world.

This morning I felt strength in my careful pace while walking in darkmess on Hunt’s Loop Trail in the Ouachita Mountains.  Edgar Whitney’s words came to mind and challenged me again as I realized my time on trails had led me to new thoughts and much more than increased skill.

Each step now holds a depth and richness that my once mindless and hurried trudging through the woods lacked.  I’m thankful that my concerns today are not “precisely what they were five years ago.”

IMG_3302r

Early morning stream on Hunt’s Loop

A few of Edgar Whitney’s words:

“There are certainly differences in students’ potentialities, but the differences are very rarely because some can and some cannot; more often they are because some do and some do not.”

“Thoughtful production and sincerity will put qualities into your work which trained eyes can recognize.”

“No talent can survive the blight of neglect.”

“There are no gimmicks in the learning process. You sweat, digging deeper, or your knowledge is superficial.” 

“The artist practicing his craft sometimes understands the most profound truth of all: results are unimportant.  The value is in the activity.  Are these things the craftsman learns worth knowing?”

The answer “none” to the question “What words have I been thinking with?” means you are making a thoughtless painting.”

Smackover, Arkansas – Historic Jail

This isn’t a hiking post, but it does involve some exploring in the southern part of our state where my father grew up. A couple of years ago, my dad and I made a visit to his hometown, Smackover, Arkansas. Since my dad died last year, the memory of that short visit to Smackover has increased in importance.

The photos I found most interesting were of the old jail. Daddy remembered the location but never had to make a visit there himself. He said it was conveniently located close to the busy downtown area where men often got into trouble during the oil boom of the 1920s. The concrete jail is on the back ally of South Broadway Street. South Broadway Street has one of the only pedestal traffic lights in our state. It is pictured here with the public library in the background. IMG_9039rr

When my dad said there used to be a jail close by, I was eager to see. We walked to the ally behind the commercial buildings on South Broadway and looked around. I was fascinated when I saw the old concrete structure that looked like a cooler at first glance.

IMG_9071rr

The lock on the door was the only evidence of anything “new.” My dad said if a guy started misbehaving from consuming too much alcohol back during the oil boom, he could easily be thrown into the jail to sleep it off.

IMG_9072rr

IMG_9048rr

IMG_9068rrThe windows were reinforced with rebar and expanded metal.

IMG_9058rr

After our visit to the jail, we drove past the little house where I spent many weekends with my grandparents. Each evening my grandfather and I would stand on the front porch while he cleaned his pipe. We’d watch steam from a sawmill in the distance before going back inside to watch The Lawrence Welk Show followed by James Arness in Gunsmoke. A TV antenna on the side of the house brought the signal from one of two channels back in the 1960s.

IMG_9038rr

On Sunday morning, we’d load up Grampie’s black ’57 Chevy and head to church. As Grampie was shaking hands after a service, the pastor smiled and said, “Arch, it really hurts my feelings when you doze off during my sermon.”  Grampie said, “Well preacher, it just proves I trust ya.”

IMG_9080rr

Warnock Arch Sudie Jimmy

In this old photo, my father and grandfather are on the upper right. My grandmother is on the far bottom right.

 

Backpackers’ Hot Chocolate Recipe

IMG_1827

I haven’t been happy with the weight or flavor of packaged hot chocolate. After a little experimenting, I settled on the following recipe. Just as with my coffee recipe, this might not be for everyone, but if you want a healthy hot beverage to sleep on, this is the ticket!

Mix the following ingredients in a bowl and measure into ziplock bags for the trail. Pictured above are three servings in the ziplock. Weight is less than 1.5 oz. 

Pour a small amount of hot water in the cup and stir in 2 rounded teaspoons of the mix. My titanium cup is small (8 oz.), so adjust your mix to taste. After stirring thoroughly, add remaining water. Disclaimer: I like my drinks dry, so you might prefer that second cup of powdered sugar if you like a more traditional flavor. I find that the coconut milk powder mixes well and I like the flavor.

In the photo above, I used a Wendy’s spoon, similar to the one I found in a Ouachita Trail shelter several years ago. There’s a story behind this spoon I now carry in addition to my titanium spoon for good luck. It reminds me that the trails provide. I hope you enjoy your Backpackers’ Hot Chocolate! Let me know if you find good variations that I might want to try.

IMG_4381rr