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

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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.

Everything you need to know for day hiking

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Hiker-dog is always ready for a day hike.

It’s a treat to post for the Menasha Ridge Press Blog. As publisher of trail guides, including The Ozarks, they feature their own authors.

I enjoyed listing the basics of day hiking all in one post. Please share with those who want to get started. Hiker-dog thinks I need to write a post entitled, “Everything You Need to Know for Hiking With Dogs.” Maybe after I’ve had more experience.

Follow this link to the post: Everything You Need to Know for Day Hiking

The Ozarks – more 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!

Ozarks Dax bookstore

Former student, Dax, found The Ozarks in Hot Springs

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-amThe best trail book I’ve ever read. That’s comparing others written for Northern CA to Maine, and everything in-between. This guide not only offers suggestions for day hikes, but how get there, what to expect on the trail, side-trails to hit or skip, how far to civilization to stock up on supplies, and noteworthy places to stop and gawk when on the road from here to there.

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 I am a hiker and I gave this as a gift to another hiker. She has used the book and loves it.

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.

Gift from the Ozarks: A Children’s Story

I wrote this picture book for a class of first graders and was pleased with their response. Young children can be a tough crowd, but they liked it! I used photos and part of the story from a thru-hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail that Bob and I did a couple of years ago. Click on the title page above to open a pdf of the little book.

Follow the next links to read a more detailed account of our trip on the Ozark Highlands Trail.

  1. Walk, Eat, Sleep, Repeat: The Ozark Highlands Trail
  2. Walk, Eat, Sleep, Repeat, Continued-Fairview to Tyler Bend and a New Hiking Partner

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.

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

Special Times and Place: Petit Jean State Park

img_8089rrI may have been 10 or 12 years old the first time I approached this breezeway. Today as my dog and I began our short trek to Cedar Falls, I was reminded of how this view of the valley took my breath away.img_8091rrOne morning many years ago I stood transfixed by the rock wall on the far side of the valley. Sunlight reflected colors in the lichen-covered rock as light crept slowly down the wall in response to the rising sun. This was a unique experience for a teenager who rarely focused his attention on anything. There was no sun this morning, but I looked forward to an early morning hike with cool, moist air and soft light.img_8104rrCedar Creek was flowing gently, and I began to anticipate Cedar Falls farther upstream. My patient hiking buddy let me tether her to a tree limb in case other hikers approached so I could take a photo of the creek. img_8106rrHearing the soft roar of Cedar Falls caused my pace to quicken. As the falls first came into view, I stopped and found a rock in the creek for my little tripod. I wanted to get low next to the water.img_8111rrThen I raised the camera using a very high-tech technique – I crawled up higher on the boulder with my flexible little tripod. The higher perch allowed me to capture the reflection of the falls in a quiet pool upstream. Thanks to my friend and creative photographer, Eric Scowden. I’ve admired a photo he did with reflections in this pool and wanted to try it myself.img_8138rrWhen we arrived at the falls, I enjoyed a few more photos while Hiker-dog waited leashed to a nearby tree. She seemed to understand that I needed this time. She also appeared to understand that this was a special place and quietly absorbed the scene. img_8148rr