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.


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.


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.


Using Hiker to put the size of boulders in perspective


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

Ozark Abstracts in Rock, Water, and Ice

WordPress Photo Challenge: Abstract

LAT 042316 3rr

I stopped this morning to admire the abstract patterns in this rock wall next to the trail. When I got back home, I decided to skim through previous photos from the Ozarks region that have an abstract quality about them. I chose to focus on photos with rock, water, and ice.


Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area bolder 


Rock floor next to Hurricane Creek


Roaring River


Little Clear Creek West on the Lake Alma Trail


Ice on the bluff at McWater Falls.


Frozen creek surface 


Detail of frost flower 

Gone But Not Forgotten: Shimmer of Color

Wet crossing on the Ozark Highlands Trail

Wet crossing on the Ozark Highlands Trail in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness

I long to hold onto fall, wishing I could stop the progressive changes in color.  The sunny day, when gusts of wind begin to deliver spent brown leaves to the ground, is always a day of mixed emotions.

I love fall, but only the extremes of winter seem to connect with childhood memories.  In south Arkansas, there were the rare snow days.  We called them “free days” to miss school and play.  More often, there were ice storms and the cannon booms of pines snapping like pencils in the woods behind our house.  Memories connected with winter are easy, but those surrounding fall are vague.

Much is forgotten as the concerns of adulthood pile high over the seasons of childhood. Now, I sometimes pause to own a moment, hoping it will stay.  Two falls ago I stopped beside a small stream to celebrate a shimmer of color, soon to be washed from its rocky perch.  The leaf is gone, but the joys of that day are not forgotten.  I should pause more often.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Gone, But Not Forgotten.”

Changing Seasons Along the Trails

Lake Alma Trail at sunset.

Lake Alma Trail at sunset.

I love the changes in season.  New colors always seem to surprise.

Fall leaves along the trail

Fall leaves along the Lake Alma Trail.

Season change often brings beauty right under your feet if you’re noticing.

Old roadbed on the Ozark Highlands Trail.

Old roadbed on the Ozark Highlands Trail.

What might be an ordinary roadbed that follows the path of the trail glitters with color.

Sweet gum leaf at a wet crossing on the Ozark Highlands Trail

Sweet gum leaf at a wet crossing on the Ozark Highlands Trail

Little scenes of beauty surround you and are easily overlooked.  Following the crossing of this little creek in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area, I was captured by the beauty of the path I’d just traveled.

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

Progress down the trail was slow because my camera kept calling to me to please stop.

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

Lake Alma Trail

Lake Alma Trail

Back home again.  We’ll end where we began with the evening sun lighting up the 3.8 mile trail at Lake Alma.