The Trail Never Disappoints

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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.

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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.

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

Photo Challenge: Favorite Place With a Favorite Friend

WordPress Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Icy Home Trail

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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.

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McWater Falls

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

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McWater Falls

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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.

Going With the Flow on Our “Home Trail”

IMG_1190rrI woke at midnight to a lightning show and intense rain. I pulled back the window curtains to get a better look then went back to sleep anticipating this morning’s walk on my “home trail,” alive with flowing water.IMG_1213rrBluffs rained down along my approach to Mc Water Falls. This was a good sign and meant I was in for a treat.IMG_1204rrMcWater Falls ran strong and the water almost seemed to generate its own breeze in the hollow below the falls.IMG_1219rrSometimes you catch yourself entranced as you look down a trail. Colors seem deeper and filled with contrast after a storm.IMG_1220rrWe heard Little Frog Bayou long before arriving at the bridge. I exclaimed to Hiker-dog, “This is how you fill up a lake!” The bridge had held strong, so we crossed but not without sitting in the middle for a few minutes to appreciate the roar.

I enjoy seeing, hearing and even feeling water when hiking in the Ozarks. The best hikes tend to be the ones where you get your feet wet. Today was no exception!

Ozark Abstracts in Rock, Water, and Ice

WordPress Photo Challenge: Abstract

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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.

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Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area bolder 

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Rock floor next to Hurricane Creek

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Roaring River

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Little Clear Creek West on the Lake Alma Trail

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Ice on the bluff at McWater Falls.

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Frozen creek surface 

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Detail of frost flower 

Waterfall Cures from Do South Magazine

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Glory Hole Falls, Eric Scowden

I’m proud to be published with friend Eric Scowden in the beautiful Do South Magazine. If you enjoy waterfalls, you’ll like our article that gives detailed information to find nine beauties in our area of Arkansas. The following links take you to the web version of the article.

Digital magazine format with article beginning on p 58:

“Waterfall Cures” Words by Jim Warnock  / Photos by Eric Scowden and Jim Warnock 

Do South Blog format:

“Waterfall Cures” Words by Jim Warnock / Photos by Eric Scowden and Jim Warnock

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Turner Bend Falls on the Pig Trail, Jim Warnock

High Water Hiking on the Lake Alma Trail

McWater Falls

McWater Falls

We had more than six inches of rain within a 24-hour period last week. I did several out-and-back early morning hikes to have a look at water levels. With a few hours available this morning, Hiker-dog and I finally did the entire loop to see how high water levels had impacted the trail.

I was pleased that the trail from the picnic area all the way to Little Frog Bayou on the east side was in pretty good shape. McWater Falls was beautiful as always! An out-and-back on this section would be fine. See my trail description for this hike in E Fort Smith Magazine. The little bridge downstream from McWater Falls was washed out of position, but crossing on rocks is easy here.

Little bridge downstream from McWater Falls

Little bridge downstream from McWater Falls

Little Frog Bayou Bridge

Little Frog Bayou Bridge

Arriving at Little From Bayou, I was amazed that the bridge was still in place with only a few boards missing (nice work Joe S. and friends). Do not cross the bridge until repairs can be made.

Little Frog Bayou Bridge high water damage.

Little Frog Bayou Bridge high water damage.

Hiker and I did not follow my advice but carefully crossed the bridge. We immediately began to wade through water along side of Little Frog Bayou. As soon as the trail turned south after the crossing and began to follow the creek I found myself approaching waist-high water. We left the trail and went to higher ground past the old well then back to the trail about sixty yards downstream where it was above water.

Historic well west of Little Frog Bayou

Historic well west of Little Frog Bayou

The next adventure was crossing the west creek (what we call Little Clear Creek). The bridge was still standing and held my weight. Water levels are usually around five feet below the bridge. Crossing the bridge involved some wading on the west side. We then sought higher ground since the trail was under water.

Little Clear Creek Bridge

Little Clear Creek Bridge

I came across some nice little bluffs high up over the creek and then headed back down to the main trail. The remainder of the hike was dry crossing the dam and back to the picnic area. We both had a good workout and were pretty well soaked. Nice morning on the Lake Alma Trail!

Rock formations west of Little Clear Creek

Rock formations west of Little Clear Creek

Hiker airing out on the dam.

Hiker airing out on the dam.

Dry walking next to the fishing dock below the picnic area

Dry walking next to the fishing dock below the picnic area

Beauty in Our Own Back Yard – The Lake Alma Trail

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Area photographer at McWater Falls

Here’s a link to my article in the April issue of Entertainment Fort Smith. I’m pleased to share the Lake Alma Trail with the readers of Entertainment Fort Smith. Wouldn’t you know Hiker-dog made it into the article’s slideshow. Hope her ego doesn’t get out of hand.

Beauty in Our Own Back Yard – The Lake Alma Trail

http://www.efortsmith.com/features/index.cfm/Beauty-in-Our-Own-Backyard-Lake-Alma-Trail/-/aid/200/

The Snow that Wouldn’t Stay

Leaning rock next to the Lake Alma Trail.

Leaning rock next to the Lake Alma Trail.

Hiker-dog and I could almost feel the snow melting under our feet this morning. We walked from home to the trail rather than driving on snow. The little shaded road to my house was almost completely clear after our hike around Lake Alma.

This reminded me of the chorus to a song I wrote with kindergarten students years ago in south Arkansas after one of those rare snow flurries that were just enough to get excited about, but not enough to make a snowball for throwing.

What do you think about that?

Snow melting on my hat.

We went out to play, but the snow wouldn’t stay!

What do you think about that?

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Ice flower

Since snow was fleeting, we watched for interesting ice. I had seen frost flowers, but never an ice flower quite this shape. Splashing water from the creek froze in this bell or flower shape. It was about two inches across.

McWater Falls

McWater Falls

The falls were barely flowing but the ice formations added something special.

Ice on the bluff at McWater Falls.

Ice on the bluff at McWater Falls.

Hike-dog checking out the Hexagon House.

Hike-dog checking out the Hexagon House.

Here’s closeup of the ice flower. Ice formations can surprise you sometimes.

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Ice flower

This afternoon as I import these photos, the snow is mostly gone. The snow that wouldn’t stay was special for the few hours it was here. I’m glad we got out and enjoyed it.

Home Trail Through Fresh Eyes

Spur trail to McWater Falls

Spur trail to McWater Falls

Today I walked my “home trail” with a group of hikers from the Ozark Society.  We took four hours to hike the four mile Lake Alma Trail, but it was a pleasure.  Part of the enjoyment came from seeing this familiar trail through other’s eyes.  Areas I’d walked past without a thought became places they stopped for photos.

McWater Falls

McWater Falls

We spent a lot of time at McWater Falls before heading on around the loop.  Seeing these hikers’ appreciation of our little waterfall was gratifying.  It’s a good thing waterfalls don’t have egos.  McWater Falls would be the most arrogant of them all after today’s photo session. IMG_3592rr

Hexagon House

Hexagon House

The group spent time speculating about the history and backstory of the Hexagon House.

Albino Nandina?

Albino Nandina? No red berries.

One of the plants the group noticed were these nandinas that grow throughout the area.  Two plants stood out because of their colorless berries.  This was something none of us had seen before. IMG_3639rr The group was interested in seeing this well just off the beaten path.  The stonework appears to be more recent than the hand-dug well it covers.  The group enjoyed discussing possible dates for the development of this well and the nearby root cellar.

Interior of the well.

Interior of the well.

Rustic root cellar

Rustic root cellar

Frank taking a shot.

Frank taking a shot.

It was a good day with good people on the Lake Alma Trail.  It was also a pleasure to see the trail through fresh eyes. Follow this link to read more about the Lake Alma Trail. IMG_3650