The Trail Never Disappoints

LAT102018_5

Yesterday’s steady rain promised potential waterfalls this morning, so Hiker-dog and I set out early. I never tire of walking the Lake Alma Trail. It’s always slightly different, depending on the light, weather, and my frame of mind. This morning, it was exactly 50-degrees, so my sometimes weather-related mood was pretty optimistic.

As we approached the creek below McWater Falls, I heard a soft flow. When we arrived, the waterfall greeted us in beautiful morning light. After Hiker-dog had her bath and a drink, I placed my camera on a tree root for a half-second exposure.

LAT102018_4

McWater Falls on the Lake Alma Trail

After picking up some trash, yes, trash right here at the waterfall, we began our walk back, picking up several other trash items on the way. I noted that some litterbugs were not adhering to the guidelines I wrote for these folks in another post. A couple of new pieces of trash had obviously been thrown off the trail, making them harder to retrieve.

As we walked back through the picnic area and across the dam, a bright morning sun beamed down its warmth, revealing hints of approaching fall colors on this trail that never disappoints.

LAT102018_3

If you’d like a map of the Lake Alma Trail, open this pdf: Alma Park Map 2017

Advice for Littlerbugs

LAT Trash_7

View of Lake Alma from the dam

This cool rainy morning was perfect for picking up trash on the Lake Alma Trail. The sight of trash in the Ozarks sometimes interrupts my enjoyment of the walk. I try to contain my emotional response to seeing an abandoned cup because it confuses Hiker-dog. She’s always happy in the woods and worries if I’m not enjoying my time, too.

LAT Trash_4

I’ve wondered what folks are thinking when they toss trash on the trail, so I decided to Google it. Didn’t find any explanations of the litterbug’s inner thinking, but the Journal of Applied Social Psychology published a study that confirmed something I’ve long suspected: “The littering rate was…lowest in a clean environment.” I was surprised to learn that positive (“Pitch-In”), and negative (“Littering is Unlawful”) signs had the same minor effect on reducing litter. It’s sad to see anti-littering signs in natural areas.

Since they are not likely to stop, I decided to list a few pieces of advice for litterbugs. If you know anyone guilty of littering, please pass these along.

  1. Leave your trash on the trail rather than tossing it off of the path where it’s difficult for volunteers to retrieve in poison ivy and greenbriers.
  2. Leave the labels on your water bottles. When you tear off the label, volunteers then have two pieces of trash to pick up. This pisses off some volunteers, and we don’t want to see angry people on our hiking trails.
  3. If you are unable to resist the urge to take a dump right next to the trail, please pick up the book, How to Shit in the Woods and give it a read.
  4. Please leave contact information on your trash (or next to it in the case of human excrement), so we can fill your email inbox with words of thanks for practicing “courteous” littering and providing us with volunteer opportunities.
LAT Trash Hiker_4

Hiker-dog on top of the LAT Dam

We only saw a few pieces of trash on the trail this morning, but cooler temperatures reminded me that Arkansas’ hiking season is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to sharing Five Star Trails: The Ozarks at several fall events. I might even include a few Leave No Trace reminders just in case any litterbugs wander in by accident.

LAT Trash_1

Five pieces of trash were found on the trail with the remainder found in the picnic area.

Humidity, Blackberries, and Pierce Pettis

Ozarks heat, humidity, and a few fresh blackberries on the Lake Alma Trail helped heal my soul yesterday evening. While walking, I listened to several songs written by Pierce Pettis in the 1990s and was stuck that his lyrics are relevant today. “Everyday you see ’em / Live from the lap of luxury / It’s the lions of the colosseum / With politicians, millionaires / You won’t see Mother Teresa there.” 

Lions of the Colosseum

By Pierce Pettis

Upon this rock let us build our church
Said the lions of the colosseum
And as the Christians wander in
We can lock the doors and eat ’em
Drink the blood of the saints
Roll the poor for pocket change
Then on our knees we will give thanks
Said the lions of the colosseum

I saw Dorothy Day on the barricades
She was hanging with comrade Jesus
But the lions did not see a thing
They were rendering unto Caesar
Roman soldiers did their best
To silence those who would protest
They had a warrant out for Dorothy’s arrest
From the lions of the colosseum

In chains of ancient history
The church is a museum
Cobwebs hang like rosaries
Inside a mausoleum
Whose surfaces are clean and white
While inside rotting corpses lie
And so they like to keep the lid on tight
Those lions of the colosseum

Let us build a tower to the sky
And let it reach to heaven
We shall be as gods, we shall not die
And our reign shall be forever
So the lions built from age to age
Til they made a Babel of the faith
And tore the body in a thousand different ways
Like in the colosseum

Now on the satellite TV
Everyday you see ’em
Live from the lap of luxury
It’s the lions of the colosseum
With politicians, millionaires
You won’t see Mother Teresa there
Just the holy rollers with the manes of hair
Lions of the colosseum

But there’s rebel graffiti on the walls
Inside the colosseum
Down below in the catacombs
The defiant ones are meeting
Hiding in the underground
Blood brothers pass the cup around
And they pay no heed to the roaring sound
Of the lions of the colosseum

A little more Pierce Pettis along with his daughter, Grace, and Jonathan Kingham. I tend to like song writers who include coffee as a topic.

LAT013018_3

View along the Lake Alma Trail

WordPress Photo Challenge: Favorites

WordPress Photo Challenge: All-Time Favorites 

IMG_2198rr

Fireworks at Lake Alma

Sometimes a “favorite” photo is associated with my pleasure at getting the shot or some technical aspect as with the fireworks above or the waterfall below. The waterfall photo has been on a magazine cover and is on the back cover of my Ozarks guidebook.

IMG_9675rr

Shepherd Spring Waterfall

More often, a “favorite” photo is more about the experience or emotion I felt when capturing the image. The photos that follow provide anchors to memories.

IMG_3798rr

Breakfast at Wanda Lake (John Muir Trail)

IMG_4911rr

Selfie from the top of Mount Whitney

IMG_0566rr

Reflections from sunset over Lake Alma

IMG_5193rr

Ouachita Trail thru-hike 2018

IMG_4368rr

Ozark Highlands Trail thru-hike 2014

Is it a coincidence that the only two heart-shaped frost flowers I’ve ever seen were alongside my two Arkansas long trail thru-hikes? Even with all of the expansive views on these two trails, the frost flowers are significant anchors to my memories of these long treks.

Photo Challenge: Ending of the Day

WordPress Photo Challenge: Rise/Set

IMG_4468rr

This sunset brings back memories of a recent evening on the Ouachita Trail. Love those moments of reflection while waiting for water to boil.

lake-alma01

Lake Alma Trail

This is a favorite place to view the end of the day on my evening walk. I enjoy the always varied painting of the sky.

LAT013018_3

Lake Alma Trail close to the edge 

IMG_0566rr

Reflections from sunset over Lake Alma

Lake Alma Sunset

Lake Alma Trail at sunset.

More about the Ouachita Trail  Ouachita Trail: Just Add Ice

To read more about the Lake Alma Trail (including driving directions) A Trail for All Reasons 

Photo Challenge: Favorite Place With a Favorite Friend

WordPress Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

IMG_6738rr

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.

IMG_6742rr

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.

IMG_6749rr

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.

IMG_3588rr

McWater Falls

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.

IMG_6554rr

A Painted Walk

LAT013018_3This evening’s walk brought the magic of color. I’d carried only my smartphone camera, but it captured the color I was seeing.

LAT013018_2

Light show at the shore

I hurried to the water’s edge when I realized the potential light show I would find. Hiker-dog was excited for another reason and strode proudly into the water for her evening bath.

LAT013018_5

The places closest to us often surprise and amaze if we’re paying attention. This evening’s painted walk was no exception.

LAT013018_1

What We Drop on a Quiet Trail

IMG_5933rr

Crossing Little Frog Bayou

Hiker-dog and I both needed the trail this evening! The trappings of life and full schedules had left us both tight and in need of a hike.

At the end of our 3-minute drive, I was surprised to see an empty parking lot. We walked the whole 4-mile loop without seeing another person. Part of the reason might have been recent rains that made Little Frog Bayou a wet crossing.

After watching Hiker cross, I paused and sat down for a photo of the creek. A minute later I realized she was sitting quietly at my back. Stealthy little dog!

IMG_5941rr

Slightly wet crossing at Little Frog Bayou

We continued at a brisk pace since light was fading. At one point Hiker-dog paused and took that familiar backward glance as if to say, “So, are you coming?”

IMG_5942rr

Hiker’s backward glance

As the day drew to a close, I realized that my feelings of anxiety and stress had passed down through my legs and into the trail. What a gift to have this beautiful path sitting quietly in our own backyard!

IMG_5944rr

End of the day over Lake Alma

Variations on an Icy Theme

WordPress Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme

IMG_5449rr

I captured these images next to the Lake Alma Trail on a recent morning. They’re variations of the same theme from the same scene.

IMG_5483rr

Endless variations in texture…

IMG_5457rr

IMG_5479rr

IMG_5413rr

Various perspectives on the same ice…

IMG_5396rr

Frozen McWater Falls on the Lake Alma Trail

Icy bonus shots: These are not from the same location, but do fit with variations on the theme. Frost Flowers on the Ouachita (Wash’-i-taw) Trail a few weeks ago.

IMG_5193rr

IMG_5160rr

IMG_5181rr

IMG_5171rr

The Lake Alma Trail and 42 more of the best trails in the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri can be found in my book, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks.

Icy Home Trail

IMG_5413rr

Years ago we asked my youngest daughter about vacation ideas. This young lady is now more widely traveled than her father, but at that time she named several options that we’d already visited. When asked why she liked these places, she said, “Because we’ve been there.”

After 160 new miles on the Ouachita Trail, I understood my daughter’s feelings and looked forward to a walk on my “home trail.” The familiar Lake Alma Trail is comfortable, but continues to provide new sights or sounds. Today was no exception.

IMG_5396rr

McWater Falls

With temperatures in the low 30s, ice remained from the previous days of temperatures dipping into the teens.

IMG_5411rr.jpg

McWater Falls

IMG_5483rr

Ice patterns at the edge of Little Frog Bayou fascinated me. I ended up spending some time along the shore while Hiker-dog enjoyed some leash-free time. IMG_5466rrI’m thankful for the comfort of a familiar trail and my little hiking partner’s energy. Below are a few ice patterns I noticed while on our home trail walk. 

I’m looking forward to sharing the Ozark Highlands Trail and others at Hobbs State Park on Sunday, January 21st at 2 p.m.