Writing Through The Ozarks

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A wet Hiker-dog waits patiently as I photograph a waterfall in Missouri’s Hercules Wilderness

In November of 2012, I began this blog as an online scrapbook to record my adventures on the trails. I hoped it would help solidify memories of good times and lessons learned. It has more than fulfilled this wish. Sometimes I skim back through posts to relive the joy of previous trips and get inspired to explore some more.

An added benefit of writing is that others have chosen to virtually travel with me on the trails. Some have been inspired to hike as a result of this blog, and that gives me great satisfaction! This site is now approaching 150,000 hits and has more than 1,600 subscribed followers.

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A couple of months before beginning my blog, I wrote my first article for @Urban Magazine, now Do South Magazine. That portion of my writing journey is in a post entitled “When in Doubt, Write.”


In October of 2014, my blog opened another door. I received an email from Tim W. Jackson, an acquisition editor with AdventureKEEN/Menasha Ridge Publishing. He said they were looking at adding an Ozarks guidebook to their Five Stars series and asked if I was interested in authoring the book. I quickly did a Google and Twitter search and confirmed that Tim was a real person. I then realized I owned several Menasha Ridge publications. Tim began to answer my questions and thus began our long-distance work on a guidebook that would consume every extra moment of my time for the next two years.

At first, writing this book felt daunting. My mother says, “When in doubt, take a step” so I began. There was research, hiking, recording GPS tracks, writing, and photography, then the cycle continued, building in ever-expanding layers. There was also lots of driving with Hiker-dog in her crate. She loved exploring the new trails and revisiting the familiar ones.

Even at its most difficult stages, I found great joy in this work. The team at Menasha Ridge Press was wonderful and helped make Five Star Trails: The Ozarks an amazing resource for exploring the very best trails in the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri. I take great pride in this book’s accuracy, readability, photographs, maps, and the wonderful routes included.

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After the book’s publication, Marla Cantrell shared some of my story in an article entitled, “When in Doubt.” Marla had been a coach and mentor to me ever since my first published article in Do South Magazine.


I hadn’t anticipated how much fun it would be to share adventures and backpacking skills while promoting Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. Presenting at the Arkansas Literary Festival was a treat as well as various state parks and hiking groups.

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Presenting to a group of 90 at Hobbs State Park

After the Arkansas Literary Festival, I learned that my book was included in the 2017 Arkansas Gems List. It was a thrill to see Hiker-dog’s cover photo on the poster.

Arkansas Gems poster 2017

  • If you love hiking or know someone who does, get Five Star Trails: The Ozarks.
  • If you’ve used Five Star Trails: The Ozarks, write a review on Amazon. I’m proud of that this Five Star Trails guidebook has a five-star rating. screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am
  • If you have a group that would enjoy hearing about the Ozarks, John Muir Trail in the High Sierras of California, or Grand Canyon of Arizona, please pass along my contact info. I can be reached at OzarkMountainHiker@gmail.com

It’s been a fun ride with Five Star Trails: The Ozarks and the journey continues. Enjoy your trails! Jim Warnock

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While it’s a pleasure to see The Ozarks on bookstore shelves, the real thrill is seeing it in use! These young hikers shared this photo from one of their Ozarks trips. Thanks Trey!

Watch for the November issue of Do South. It includes my article, “Walking Through Winter,” one of our best seasons in the Ozarks.

Five Star Trails at REI

REI in Dallas 

Talking Trails at Hobbs State Park

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Sharing the joys of down layering

The next best thing to walking the trails is talking the trails. I had a great time with the Friends of Hobbs State Park on Sunday sharing my thru-hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail and Hiker-dog’s story. A young man from the audience assisted me by unpacking my pack as I described changes that resulted in a lighter load. I let him try my down vest, but he shed it pretty quickly due to its warmth.

After sharing my children’s book intended for second graders, Hiker-dog entered the room at the end. She enjoyed some petting and then curling up on the floor as the program continued.

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Jim Flickinger assisted with Hiker-dog

Just under ninety were in the audience. They were responsive, asking good questions and sharing their enthusiasm. The hour flew by!

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Almost 90 in attendance!

Steve Chyrchel, Hobbs State Park Interpreter, does a great job promoting programs and sets the schedule far in advance. He’s already scheduled me for March 3, 2019!

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Sallyann making announcements

Sallyann Brown, a fly casing instructor, heads up the Friends of Hobbs programs and always makes folks feel comfortable. When I presented the John Muir Trail in September, she made me promise to bring Hiker-dog if I returned.

Hiker-dog enjoyed the attention. I enjoyed signing copies of my book, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks, and talking trails with folks after the program.

Below you’ll find the Friends of Hobbs Speaker Series for 2018.

Hobbs schedule 1

Hobbs schedule 2

The Urge For Going

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Do them now.”  ~Paulo Coelho

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John Muir Trail

Yesterday a friend sent me a couple of links for the Rae Lakes Loop in the High Sierras of California. In a short conversation two weeks earlier we’d hatched the idea of hiking this area again. The thought lingered in both of our minds.

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John Muir Trail

As I remembered our John Muir Trail experiences, I felt deep thankfulness for that nagging, troubling, and sometimes inspiring “urge for going.” I also felt thankful that I can go, and admonished by the reminder that I have no guarantees of time and strength in my future. All is a gift. Let the planning begin!


I’m looking forward to sharing the Ozark Highlands Trail thru-hike on Sunday, January 21, at 2 p.m. Hobbs State Park’s Visitor Center is a beautiful venue. Hiker-dog will be there, too! Five Star Trails Poster 012118 Hobbs State Park

Sharing the Trails

Five Star Trails Poster 092917 Springfield Nat CenterDuring a phone visit with Kyle Kellams of KUAF, I mentioned how hiking and writing about trails go together for me. I couldn’t imagine doing one without the other. He said, “So, in addition to being a thru-hiker, you’re a ‘thru-writer.'” I thought, what a cool trail name that would be!

An extension to writing about trails is speaking about them. Writing Five Star Trails: The Ozarks has opened many opportunities to share. 

Last weekend, I presented to a group of 68 folks at Hobbs State Park, close to Beaver Lake in Rogers, Arkansas. The group was diverse and included several trail runners, a few experienced thru-hikers, many day hikers, and a 99-year old who’d hiked many miles. She asked a good question about water availability on the John Muir Trail.

This coming Friday at 7 p.m., I’ll be sharing at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center. I catch myself wondering what questions they will have. Here are a few often asked.

  1. Have you seen a bear? Two in Arkansas, both moving away from me. Several out west.
  2. How heavy is your pack? Depends on the season. Getting lighter the older I get…
  3. Do you worry about snakes? I like seeing snakes but avoid stepping on or irritating them.
  4. How’s Hiker-dog? I enjoy giving updates on Hike-dog’s adventures.
  5. How do you do “number 2” out there? I added this question because it’s the one I used to want to ask of distance hikers, but never would. If I’m asked in a group setting, I’ll dodge the specifics by saying it depends on the type of environment and rules for the trail you’re hiking. A whole book has been written on this subject.

Looking forward to questions and conversations with other souls who love hiking and the outdoors! If you need a presenter for a group, I’ll jump at the chance to share. All I need is a darkened room for viewing photos and a power outlet. Contact me through the Feedback tab at the top of the page.

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Sharing with 68 folks at Hobbs State Park – “Pack this, not that: a few lessons from the JMT.”

Here’s a pdf of the flier if you’d like to print or forward and share for this Friday’s session.  Five Star Trails Poster 092917 Springfield Nat Center 

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 

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Intricate” in the Ozarks

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Intricate.”

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Tree bark

These intricate patterns caught my eye while hiking Saturday morning. I’m not sure of the tree name, but it’s located in the Ozarks close to Hobbs State Park in Arkansas. I snapped the picture and hurried on down the trail without trying to identify the tree by its leaves. Maybe someone with more tree identification skills can help.

Several photos from the past came to mind when I read the word ‘intricate.” Intricate patterns or designs in plants, rock, and water reveal themselves along the trails if I’m paying attention. Makes me wonder about the microscopic patterns I’m walking past without a thought.

Detail of rock formations in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area

Detail of rock formations in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area

Frosty hiking as temperatures plummet.

Frosty intricate pattern on branches on Hare Mountain.

One of the visual gems so easily missed along the Buffalo River Trail.

One of the visual gems so easily missed along the Buffalo River Trail.

The lip of Hare Mountain Falls.

The lip of White Rock Mountain Falls showing intricate patterns in the flow.