My Sometimes “Cheeky” Hiker-Dog

WordPress Photo Challenge: CheekyIMG_5175rrHiker-dog gave me this scoffing look on a rainy day in the Hercules Wilderness Area in Missouri. She gave me this same look moments earlier after I fell on a muddy trail.

On a sunnier day and trail closer to home, Hiker-dog looked back as if to say, “Are you coming or not?” This is a “cheeky” look I often get when she pauses to see if I’m still progressing down the trail. IMG_2542 Hiker’s curiosity is entertaining. img_8381rrBelow is a little resume I share at slideshows. I offer it here if you’d like to know a little of her story.

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Hiker-dog’s Adoption Trail


The view over a landslide site next to Richland Creek Wilderness Area.


In January of 2014, Bob and I met a black Lab close to mile 138 on the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT). If you want to know that story, skim this little book I wrote for children at my school, Gift From the Ozarks.

Since joining our family, Hiker-dog has covered most of the OHT but still lacked the miles from Fairview Trailhead on Hwy 7, east to where we found her. Hiking buddy, Eric, is working his way through the OHT and needed this section. Bob completed our group, being the first to meet Hiker-dog a few years ago.


Eric and I drove to Richland Creek Campground to leave my truck, then shuttle back to Fairview to meet Bob. Hiker-dog enjoyed the ride and seemed to anticipate some good hiking as we drove next to the Richland Creek Wilderness Area.

We laughed at how hyper she was in camp. I took her on a short out-and-back walk in an attempt to calm her down but she needed more, and there hadn’t been time that day with all the shuttle driving. Since others were camping nearby, I put Hiker-dog’s mat inside the tent and was thankful when she curled up and slept all night.

IMG_3689rrSaturday’s hike was pleasant as we crossed old oak bore and ice damage saying a word of thanks for trail volunteers who keep this section passable. The canopy improves after a couple of miles, and the beauty of the Ozarks is revealed as you pass several creeks. As we stopped for lunch, two of the only other backpackers we would meet stopped for a short visit.IMG_3706rrI’ve hiked through the remnants of the CCC Camp before but never spent the night. This was a treat, and water access was easy. We enjoyed exploring before selecting tent sites.IMG_3708rr


Someone was impatient with tent setup and curled up for a short nap.

After supper, we played with our cameras while warming by a fast burning cedar wood fire. Popping cinders left orange streaks and sometimes caused alarm when they landed on a leg or foot. IMG_3731rrWe experimented with some light painting to bring out the foreground and trees. IMG_3745rrLots of cinder streamers fly during 15-second exposures. Perhaps the ghostly remnants from the CCC structures made us wish for visitors from the past. Looks like some spirits stopped by as we sat by the fire. IMG_3742rrIMG_3739rrEric experimented with some light writing. Who would think three grown men could be so entertained by a couple of small cameras and headlamps!IMG_3733rrThe next morning, we explored a bluff area next to the camp. The open woods surrounding the CCC Camp were a joy for a well-rested Hiker-dog. IMG_3767rrIMG_3762rr

We came to the place we first met Hiker-dog close to mile 138 (now near 137 with route changes on the OHT). A deer from the previous day’s hunt was lying about fifty yards away, and Hiker-dog quickly found what the hunter could not. I thought about Hiker-dog’s condition just under four years ago and what rich meals this deer would have provided.IMG_3806rrIMG_3822rrWe came across our backpacking friends from the previous day and had a nice lunch as Hiker-dog fought the desire for a nap in the warm sunshine.IMG_3831rrHiking along Falling Water Creek was a pleasure until we came to an arrow indicating the bypass up and over the site of an old landslide. We huffed and puffed along the steep hillside, but the bluff above provided scenic views into the Richland Creek Wilderness Area. From our thru-hike a few years ago, I didn’t remember this section’s steepness. It was probably blocked from my memory because of the pain.


Thanks to Eric for catching Hiker-dog and me on the reroute 


One of many views from the bluff.

As we arrived at Richland Creek Campground to complete our 20-mile trek, Hiker-dog was nowhere to be seen. I heard children’s voices next to the creek and thought she might have been drawn to the sound, but she popped out of the woods a few minutes later, still strong and ready for more. I thought about how fortunate we both were to cross paths at mile 137 of what would become our adoption trail on that cold January day.


Hiker taking a break on Spy Rock, Hare Mountain.


Enjoying fall colors on the Lake Alma Trail.

High Sierras and The Ozarks at Hobbs State Park on Sunday, Sept. 24

I’m looking forward to presenting the John Muir Trail and my book, The Ozarks, at Hobbs State Park! Please share with all who love the outdoors. A pdf is below the photo in case you’d like to print a flier. Five Star Trails Poster 092417 Hobbs State Park

Here’s a link to the Hobbs State Park description of the program. I’m honored to share in such a beautiful location!

Long Distance Hiking: Taking a Break or Getting Broken

Here’s a pdf of the flier if you’d like to print and share. Five Star Trails Poster 092417 Hobbs State Park 

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 crop

Arkansas’ Island in the Sky


Cameron Bluff on Mount Magazine

Residents of the Ozarks hanker for higher elevations this time of year. I wish Arkansas had an 8,000-foot mountain, but it would be crowded with the whole state huddled at the top through July and August.

Fortunately, there is a place where you can sometimes escape the south’s summer heat and humidity. Mount Magazine, at 2,753 feet, is Arkansas’ island in the sky and offers a wide array of beautifully maintained hiking trails and facilities.

Years ago, I visited Mount Magazine and saw the remaining footprint of the 1940 WPA Lodge that burned in 1971. The huge stone wall that formed the terrace for that earlier lodge now stands below a massive new lodge, completed in 2006. All rooms feature views across the Blue Mountain Lake and valley. To learn more about the history of this area, check out Don Simons’ book, Mount Magazine (Images of America).

The lodge and surrounding cabins are beautiful as is the campground, located a short walk from Cameron Bluff. We traveled through driving rains in the River Valley to reach Cameron Bluff Campground, arriving in an eerie cloud atop Mount Magazine. The next day brought temperatures in the low 60s, heaven for the summer dayhiker!


Sunset at Cameron Bluff


Taking in the views from the North Rim Trail

Hiker-dog and I wanted to hike around the “island” and decided to do a longer variation on the hike I described in Fives Star Trails: The Ozarks. We accessed the trail by the High Point Trail and then added the full length of Mossy Bluff Trail, East Benefield, Bear Hollow, and Will Apple’s Road Trail.
IMG_1890rrWe completed the morning with the North Rim Trail to make a 12-mile loop, arriving back at our campsite ready for lunch and a nap.

Color provided visual highlights along the trail on this summer hike. A lone coneflower called caught my eye as we hiked Mossback Ridge Trail.
IMG_1982rrButterflies danced from bloom to bloom, sometimes landing long enough for a picture, despite my lack of a long lens. Mount Magazine and the nearby town of Paris hosted their 20th (and last) Butterfly Festival in 2016. Thankfully, the diverse butterfly population didn’t get the news release and still arrives on Mount Magazine to enjoy its unique blooms and cool temperatures.
IMG_2098rrIMG_2056rrA subtle collection of frog calls announced our approach to a small hidden pond located on the historical Benefield homestead. While Hiker-dog grabbed a drink, I captured a short sample of the pond’s soundscape.

Between the flowers, bluffline vistas, cool morning air, and wildlife, we ended our day filled with thankfulness for Mount Magazine, our gorgeous green island in the sky!

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The view from Sunrise Rock on the Bear Hollow Trail

A few more glimpses of color and beauty from our hike…

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


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


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 I’m thankful that hikers are liking my two-year labor of love!


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 first and second graders and have been pleased with their responses. Young children can be a tough crowd, but they’ve 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