Hiker-dog on the 2017 Arkansas Literary Festival Poster

final_online_AR_Gems_PosterI was pleased when Tanya, with Menasha Ridge Press, contacted me several months ago to say that my book would be included on the 2017 Arkansas Gems List poster. I never dreamed the poster would be so beautiful!

It pleased me to see Hiker-dog resting on a high bluff over the Current River in Missouri. On that fall day as we hiked the Ozark Trail, I couldn’t have imagined that the work giving us such pleasure would someday be shared with a full room at the Arkansas Literary Festival. Having this book appear on The 2017 Arkansas Gems List was icing on the cake! final_online_AR_Gems_Poster zoom
final_online_AR_Gems_Poster small cropI’m looking forward to sharing slideshows and trail talks at the following events. Please spread the word!

Sunday, September 24 at 2 p.m.  Hobbs State Park in Rogers, Arkansas –  I’ll be sharing strategies for completing the John Muir Trail and packing hints as well as photos. I’ll also share an over view of Five Star Trails: The Ozarks complete with photos and a few stories along the way. Book signing will follow.

Friday, September 29 at 7:00 p.m.  Springfield Conservation Nature Center in Springfield, Missouri  – I’ll be sharing the John Muir Trail and The Ozarks in words and photos. Book signing will follow.

Saturday, October 21 time TBA  Backpacking Arkansas Gathering at Shady Lake Campground in the Ouachita Mountains – Sharing strategies for completing the John Muir Trail, packing hints, and High Sierras photos. I’ll also share an overview of Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. Hiker-dog will attend this event that includes a variety of sessions and some time on the trails. Lots of cool door prizes at this event! Make a weekend of it at the beautiful Shady Lake Campground.

100 Steps



Here are a few photos from an assignment I thought up during a morning hike on my home trail. I took a photo using my smartphone camera every 100 steps, allowing myself to move up to ten steps from each stopping point to locate a photo.

This little exercise had a couple of effects. One was the realization that 100 steps pass quickly on the trail. Another was that I paid closer attention to what I was seeing every step of the way. An added effect was I learned my cell phone memory fills up quickly and that I prefer the flexibility of my real camera. Nevertheless, it was a good experiment.

Imperfect Beauty

WordPress Photo Challenge: Structure – The arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex.  Beauty – a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.IMG_1982rrIn each of these objects from nature there is beautiful imperfection. A cone flower petal misplaced or the tip of a butterfly wing snipped off by a predator. Those slight irregularities in structure reveal the frailty and temporary nature of the beauty. Perhaps imperfections expand the qualities of beauty. IMG_2056rrIMG_2035rrThis ancient gnarly cedar clutches the edge of a mountain bluff, enduring random forces of winds, water, and ice as only its random structure could do. Beauty comes through deep wrinkles that speak of its tenacity and resilience from years lived so close to destruction.

The above photos were from a recent hike on Mount Magazine, Arkansas’ highest mountain.

Hardware Collage

WordPress Photo Challenge: Collage


I love a good hardware store, but never thought to pull the camera from my belt while visiting one! That is until I visited Walrod’s Hardware. This is a Fort Smith treasure and reminiscent of The Tool Room in South Arkansas that my dad and I often visited when I was a teenager.

On this day, I was driving my dad from a doctor’s appointment and commented that we needed to take a little field trip. What I found were collages that appeared random, but ask Jerry, the owner, for the most obscure of items, and you’ll see that there is a practical organization that works. With experienced eyes, he effortlessly points out the item on a busy shelf. 

I was overwhelmed by the choice of hammers!

I now have an appreciation for the beauty of screw-eyes and u-bolts!

IMG_2240rrThough this galvanized watering can seemed out of place atop the ratchet sets and next to the nuts-and-bolts isle, it stood out with an artistic flair.

Here are a few scenes from our hardware collage field trip.



Walrod’s Hardware
2113 Midland Blvd.
Fort Smith, Arkansas, 72904

Fiery Sky Over Lake Alma

Eric Scowden and I hiked to The Point well before dark and determined where to place our tripods. In the water was the best spot. As we prepared our cameras I asked, “Would this be a bad time to tell Tim Ernst’s cottonmouth story?”

Eric had been at Tim’s slideshow so we were both remembering it at the same time as we stood in grassy water close to shore. We were not waist-deep in water as Tim had been and there were no boulders for cottonmouths to get eye-to-eye with us.
The show began at 9 p.m. with color still in the sky but the brightness and sounds were still startling and beautiful.


Plant growth at the bottom of the frame where we stood in the water.

Delayed percussive booms traveled across Lake Alma with jarring impact. On the hike out, we heard continued fireworks provided by local residents, mixed with distant thunder provided by Mother Nature. I was glad that Hiker-dog was hunkered down at home since she doesn’t care for loud noises, though she may have been fascinated by the fiery skies over Lake Alma.

With lightning showing thorough the foliage in the distance, we spent some time experimenting with light painting and long exposures. Eric took a photo of me swinging my headlamp around to illuminate the scene.


Thanks to Eric for the photo coaching. His advice helped me capture some pleasing photos of our small town fireworks show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Follow this link to download a pdf of the Alma Park Map 2017.

Be sure to check out Tim Ernst’s website and journal for wilderness stories and photography.

Ozark Highlands Trail on The Trail Show Podcast

The Trail Show

Steven Parker, Maintenance Coordinator for the OHTA, gave an excellent discussion of the Ozark Highlands Trail on The Trail Show podcast. Seven’s interview begins 41 minutes into the podcast.

If you accidentally come in a couple of minutes early, don’t let the heavy metal-like “Back on the Trail” scare you. Just past this shocking sonic experience, you will be treated to a 20-minute discussion of the Ozark Highlands Trail.

Click on link to go to the podcast or paste address into your search window: http://thetrailshow.com/the-trail-show-60-the-oht/

Here’s an earlier blog post that includes some photos of Steven and other volunteers who keep the OHT open. In Praise of Trail Maintainers