I haven’t posted in several weeks. I’ve been learning about my knees, important joints to all of us who like to walk. While rehabilitating my right knee with exercises, stretches, and my rowing machine, I watched hiking documentaries for inspiration. During this last week, my range of motion increased with less pain, so I decided to try it on a trail.
My first thought was a backpacking trip. I even loaded my pack but knew a few careful dayhikes might be more prudent and avoid further injury.
Late Friday night, Hiker-dog and I arrived at Wolf Pen Recreation Area on the Mulberry River. The whole place was ours on this cold night with drizzling rain. From the looks of it, the place probably gets heavy use when the river and weather are right for floating. I liked this location because it would put me driving past Oark General Store on the way to Arbaugh Trailhead the next morning.
One of the best ways to avoid injury is to slow down. A slower pace was my goal on this hike. I found that this approach was a good outlook in other areas, too. I didn’t rush getting up and actually slept in an extra hour. When I arrived at Oark a half-hour before they opened, I relaxed and enjoyed some reading.
It was 9 a.m. by the time I arrived at Arbaugh Trailhead, where we would walk the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) west to the other side of Lynn Hollow. Temperatures hovered just above freezing.
I was filled with thanksgiving as I began my careful hike, remembering why I love walking in the woods so much. The constant movement through changing scenery, the air, the sounds! I think Hiker-dog was feeling some thankfulness herself. My knee problem has limited her runs to the Lake Alma Dam in the last few weeks.
Going downhill on leaf-covered rocks was tricky on this wet morning. I took my time and avoided odd angles or sudden movements for my knee’s maiden voyage. Level trail and uphill felt good!
Hiker-dog made lots of return runs as if she noticed my slower pace. She’s pretty stealthy, able to run through the woods, then return without my noticing her at my heels.
I’d planned to stay on the trail, but seeing a cascade in the distance at the Lynn Creek crossing drew me on a careful bushwhack upstream for a look.
After climbing the OHT on the other side of Lynn Hollow, we enjoyed a pleasant walk with views down into the hollow and the distant hum of the creek. Our wildlife sightings included five turkeys and two deer.
I reached a road crossing and checked my map to see how far we were from several waterfalls that would be fun to see since creeks were running. I decided to stick with the 5-mile out-and-back for today, so we turned around at the road with a little regret. Sometimes we need to practice cutting demands on our body rather always trying to “ramp it up.”
On the return trip, we took the spur trail to a beautiful pool and cascade. This is a special spot, one that made me consider adding Arbaugh to Lynn Hollow in my trail guidebook , but it didn’t make the cut because I was wanting something a little longer in the area. Still, it’s a great little dayhike and well worth the drive.
Once at the pool, we crawled under a rock ledge and took a few photos of the incoming cascade. Great little spot for a break!
The walk back to Arbaugh Trailhead was pure enjoyment, now warm from the walking and with sunshine beaming down. It was 12:15 when we arrived back at the truck and I had lunch on my mind.
It was just a few miles out of my way, but I’d not visited Catalpa Cafe for several months. It’s located where the pavement ends 3-miles east of Oark.
Randy, owner, and sole employee, prides himself on gourmet cooking. I had the Catalpa Burger (with homemade buns), crispy onion rings, and a piece of key lime pie for later. The place was busy, but I wasn’t in a hurry, still holding onto my slow-paced mindset. I took Hiker-dog for a walk to a nearby creek crossing while waiting on the burger.
After filling up on great food, we headed home, thankful for joints that work, and a good day on the trail to celebrate recovery.