WordPress Photo Challenge: Favorite Place
Quenching thirst on this morning’s walk.
Daily walks with my friend are important to both of us physically and mentally. If I skip a day, my four-legged friend lets me hear about it.
This morning we strayed from the main trail to have a look at this historic well. It was probably built in the early 1900s by the same folks who laid rock walls to mark their property lines.
View into the well
When water’s flowing, we take a short spur and enjoy the sound of McWater Falls, named for the man who initiated the work to build a trail around Lake Alma.
I’m thankful for this favorite place and my little favorite trail friend.
For the Lake Alma Trail backstory and driving directions, read Lake Alma Trail: A Trail for All Reasons
For more about Hiker-dog, check out her resume.
The little 4-mile trail close to my home is the source of endless enjoyment and health. Daily walks always reveal something special in sight or sound. This morning, little splashes of summer color greeted me along the trail while temperatures hinted at the coming fall.
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.
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.
The goal of this morning’s hike on the Lake Alma Trail was to pick up a couple of trashy spots I’d noticed on my last couple of walks. I never expected to be greeted by a bald eagle as Hiker-dog and I began at the west end of the dam.
I rarely attempt photos of birds, especially in flight, but I couldn’t resist. Watching this bird was an early morning thrill.
Even my “home trail” holds surprises and visual treasure if I pay attention and watch for the beauty.
Harry McWater receiving a book and map from Jim Warnock
How often do you get to share a new trail for the first time in a Five Star Trails Guide and present one of the first copies printed to the man who had the vision for the trail? Menasha Ridge Press gave me permission to print enlargements of the book’s map of the Lake Alma Trail for display in the trailhead kiosk. I couldn’t resist printing an extra copy to present to Harry McWater to thank him for making this beautiful trail possible.
Here’s information about three book signings in the next two weeks. Please come by and grab a few copies of Five Star Trails: The Ozarks.
Chapters on Main in Van Buren, Arkansas book signing with author, Jim Warnock
- Thursday, November 10, from 5-8 p.m. Businesses in historic downtown remain open late for Living Local, so this is a good chance to do some Christmas shopping.
- Saturday, November 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The first 100 books signed at each session will include a bookmark with Hiker-dog’s photo and paw print.
Chapters on Main, 816 Main Street, Historic Downtown Van Buren, AR 479-471-9315
South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC) in El Dorado, Arkansas book signing
- Tuesday, November 15, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Book signing with author, Jim Warnock, in the lobby from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with one 20-minute trail discussion and slideshow at 6:30 inside the theater. The first 100 books signed will include a bookmark with Hiker-dog’s photo and signature. A $1 donation for every book sold will go to Union County Animal Protection Society.
SAAC, 110 E. 5th Street, El Dorado, AR, United States 71730 Phone: 870-862-5474
Hiker-dog on a small Lake Alma Trail bluff
Reflections from sunset over Lake Alma
We had more than six inches of rain within a 24-hour period last week. I did several out-and-back early morning hikes to have a look at water levels. With a few hours available this morning, Hiker-dog and I finally did the entire loop to see how high water levels had impacted the trail.
I was pleased that the trail from the picnic area all the way to Little Frog Bayou on the east side was in pretty good shape. McWater Falls was beautiful as always! An out-and-back on this section would be fine. See my trail description for this hike in E Fort Smith Magazine. The little bridge downstream from McWater Falls was washed out of position, but crossing on rocks is easy here.
Little bridge downstream from McWater Falls
Little Frog Bayou Bridge
Arriving at Little From Bayou, I was amazed that the bridge was still in place with only a few boards missing (nice work Joe S. and friends). Do not cross the bridge until repairs can be made.
Little Frog Bayou Bridge high water damage.
Hiker and I did not follow my advice but carefully crossed the bridge. We immediately began to wade through water along side of Little Frog Bayou. As soon as the trail turned south after the crossing and began to follow the creek I found myself approaching waist-high water. We left the trail and went to higher ground past the old well then back to the trail about sixty yards downstream where it was above water.
Historic well west of Little Frog Bayou
The next adventure was crossing the west creek (what we call Little Clear Creek). The bridge was still standing and held my weight. Water levels are usually around five feet below the bridge. Crossing the bridge involved some wading on the west side. We then sought higher ground since the trail was under water.
Little Clear Creek Bridge
I came across some nice little bluffs high up over the creek and then headed back down to the main trail. The remainder of the hike was dry crossing the dam and back to the picnic area. We both had a good workout and were pretty well soaked. Nice morning on the Lake Alma Trail!
Rock formations west of Little Clear Creek
Hiker airing out on the dam.
Dry walking next to the fishing dock below the picnic area
Area photographer at McWater Falls
Here’s a link to my article in the April issue of Entertainment Fort Smith. I’m pleased to share the Lake Alma Trail with the readers of Entertainment Fort Smith. Wouldn’t you know Hiker-dog made it into the article’s slideshow. Hope her ego doesn’t get out of hand.
Beauty in Our Own Back Yard – The Lake Alma Trail
Leaning rock next to the Lake Alma Trail.
Hiker-dog and I could almost feel the snow melting under our feet this morning. We walked from home to the trail rather than driving on snow. The little shaded road to my house was almost completely clear after our hike around Lake Alma.
This reminded me of the chorus to a song I wrote with kindergarten students years ago in south Arkansas after one of those rare snow flurries that were just enough to get excited about, but not enough to make a snowball for throwing.
What do you think about that?
Snow melting on my hat.
We went out to play, but the snow wouldn’t stay!
What do you think about that?
Since snow was fleeting, we watched for interesting ice. I had seen frost flowers, but never an ice flower quite this shape. Splashing water from the creek froze in this bell or flower shape. It was about two inches across.
The falls were barely flowing but the ice formations added something special.
Ice on the bluff at McWater Falls.
Hike-dog checking out the Hexagon House.
Here’s closeup of the ice flower. Ice formations can surprise you sometimes.
This afternoon as I import these photos, the snow is mostly gone. The snow that wouldn’t stay was special for the few hours it was here. I’m glad we got out and enjoyed it.
McWater Falls on the Lake Alma Trail
I love hiking the Ozarks in winter! No bugs, no sweat, and great views. Add a little water, and you have the recipe for beauty! These photos were taken this morning between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. The temperature was 17-degrees at the beginning of the hike and warmed up to 24 by the end.
Little Frog Bayou on the Lake Alma Trail
Frost flower next to the trail.
Hiker is a winter dog! She snuggles up in her straw bed inside her little house, but is ready to hit the trail regardless of temperature. She got a little impatient at this creek while I was taking photos. She was ready to move on down the trail!