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 

Chapters on Main, a Refuge for Learning

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My love for local bookstores was solidified during college when I worked at Adams Bookstore in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Mr. Adams was like a mentor to me during that time. I wrote about his influence during those crucial years in another post.

In 2016, I learned of a bookstore with character and good coffee right down the road in Van Buren. Walking into Chapters on Main is like stepping into a private refuge filled with books and the pleasant smell of coffee. You’ll often see young customers sipping coffee while exploring the shelves, using the wireless, or participating in book study groups. Marla Cantrell beautifully tells this bookstore’s story in Do South Magazine, The Best Chapter Yet.

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Young people enjoying coffee in the reading room

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I was pleased to do my first book signing at Chapters on Main, and they’ve continued to carry Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. It makes me proud to see my book in the company of other Arkansas authors in a locally owned bookstore that provides a wonderful learning hub for our community.

 


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The coffee shop is usually busy. I recommend the double shot espresso!

IMG_9034rrExcellent shopping is found all along the street next to Chapters on Main. The train depot and veterans park are located across the street.

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Train depot viewed from Chapters on Main

Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Nimblewill Nomad!

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Happy 79th birthday, Nimblewill and safe travels!

Nimblewill Nomad (M. J. Eberhart) is somewhere on the western side of the United States completing Odyssey 2017: Historic Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. His walk began in July and will end in late November, covering 2,300 miles.

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Nimblewill is kindhearted, a gentleman, and a powerful long-distance backpacker! After retirement, he began walking, and he hasn’t stopped. A few years ago, he did the “Triple O” the Ouachita Trail, Ozark Highlands Trail, and Ozark Trail in Missouri. He walked from the end of one trail to the beginning of the next. His book, Ten Million Steps, tells the story of his walk from the Florida Keys to Quebec, Canada.

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Nimblewill is tentatively scheduled to speak at the December 10 meeting of the Ozark Highlands Trail Association, beginning at 6 p.m. He’ll share his Route 66 Trek and probably throw a poem or two in for good measure. His book, Ten Million Steps, will be available for purchase and signing.

You’ll not want to miss this!

Ozark Highlands Trail Association December 10 meeting

Where? 2536 N. McConnell Rd!  To get there from I-540 take Exit 66 south on AR 112 (Garland Ave), turn west at Drake Street stop light to reach McConnell Rd, turn south to Washington County Extension Service near the fair grounds. 36.098 latitude 94.180 longitude for gps users.

Hiker-dog on the 2017 Arkansas Literary Festival Poster

final_online_AR_Gems_PosterI was pleased when Tanya, with Menasha Ridge Press, contacted me several months ago to say that my book would be included on the 2017 Arkansas Gems List poster. I never dreamed the poster would be so beautiful!

It pleased me to see Hiker-dog resting on a high bluff over the Current River in Missouri. On that fall day as we hiked the Ozark Trail, I couldn’t have imagined that the work giving us such pleasure would someday be shared with a full room at the Arkansas Literary Festival. Having this book appear on The 2017 Arkansas Gems List was icing on the cake! final_online_AR_Gems_Poster zoom
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Hiking the Marinoni Scenic Area with Exploring Arkansas

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Chuck in the Marinoni Scenic Area

It’s always an honor to post on the Menasha Ridge Press Blog. Below is a post about sharing the Marinoni Scenic Area with Chuck Dovish of Exploring Arkansas, a program from the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN). The Marinoni broadcast is scheduled for August 2nd at 6:30 p.m. All episodes are loaded to YouTube for future reference.

Hiking the Marinoni Scenic Area with Exploring Arkansas

Below is an email I sent Chuck following our trip. It reflects my thoughts about the value of what he does. He has an authentic love for the natural areas of our state and helps us all celebrate their discovery and preservation. Chuck#2 was what we called the videographer during our hike.

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Chuck’s episode about the Lake Alma Trail begins 7 min. and 15 seconds into this Youtube link.

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We posed for a quick photo after completing the day of hiking and filming.

When in doubt, write.

As a child, I thought writing was magic. For real writers, words must flow without effort in finished form, or so I thought.

My senior English teacher was Inez Taylor. She was pretty tough but got me excited about writing. I worked particularly hard on a short story about a newspaper photographer who realized he wanted to make a career change as he photographed a tragic fire scene. Ms. Taylor liked the story, especially my description of the photographer’s boss. This positive experience was memorable but didn’t transfer into continued writing.

Fast forward a few years, and I’m an educator, working with young children. In a workshop by a wonderful teacher named Dee Post, I learned some strategies for leading children in writing. I applied what I learned and ended up creating some fun products with the children in my school. Later, I felt the desire to share my thoughts about learning and began writing short features in our school’s newsletter. Slowly my confidence increased.

Over the years, I grew to love hiking, largely by reading trail guides by Tim Ernst.  My desire to share trails with others led me to write short blogposts about my outdoor adventures. I discovered a beautiful regional publication in Northwest Arkansas called @Urban, now known as Do South Magazine.

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October 2012 issue of @Urban, later to become Do South Magazine

In September of 2012, while working with volunteers to build a trail around Lake Alma, I wanted to share this trail with others. I was reminded of something my mother often said, “When in doubt, take a step.” One morning while browsing the @Urban Magazine (now Do South),I decided to email Marla Cantrell, Managing Editor, and propose an article about the new Lake Alma Trail.

Marla responded by asking if I could share something I’d written. I sent one of my school newsletters that included the story of one of my former students and a book review I’d written for an education publication. Her short response the next day was, “I love your writing.” An award-winning writer like Marla Cantrell making this statement had a strong impact on me. She went on to ask for a 700-word article about the Lake Alma Trail and photos for their October issue. That article was “Lake Alma Trail: A Trail for All Reasons.” IMG_0199rrMarla Cantrell became an important influence in my writing. I told her I should have paid tuition with each article written because of her excellent coaching and encouragement. Writing still didn’t flow like magic, but it was worth the challenge because of the chance that my words might open others to new learning and beauty.

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October 2016 article by Marla Cantrell in Do South Magazine

In October of 2016, I was honored by a Do South article written by Marla about the publication of my first book, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. I’m thankful for my mother’s advice to take action in spite of my doubts. I’m thankful for mentors and encouragers along the way and for readers who’ve shared in my joy of continued learning and discovery.


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An unforeseen pleasure of writing this book has been working with a great group of professionals. A few words of thanks to the following individuals:

Tim Jackson, Acquisitions Editor, for asking me to write a trail guide for the Ozarks, and for guidance during the two years we worked on this book.
Scott McGrew for his beautiful work with mapping and cover design.
Kerry Smith for copy editing and insightful clarifying questions.
Laura Frank, proofreader, for attention to detail.
Holly Cross, Managing Editor, for support and guidance through the writing and publishing process.
Tanya Sylvan, Marketing, for promotional expertise and encouraging me to share on the Menasha Ridge Press Blog.

Everything you need to know for day hiking

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Hiker-dog is always ready for a day hike.

It’s a treat to post for the Menasha Ridge Press Blog. As publisher of trail guides, including The Ozarks, they feature their own authors.

I enjoyed listing the basics of day hiking all in one post. Please share with those who want to get started. Hiker-dog thinks I need to write a post entitled, “Everything You Need to Know for Hiking With Dogs.” Maybe after I’ve had more experience.

Follow this link to the post: Everything You Need to Know for Day Hiking

The Ozarks – more feedback from readers

dyer-lfs-0117r“Enjoyed the great outdoors at Lake Fort Smith yesterday using our copy of Jim Warnock’s book, The Ozarks! We’re already planning future hikes with it too! 10/10 would recommend purchasing it! All we needed was our own Hiker-dog!”  – Trey, Delaney and Darian

Wish these kids could have seen the smile on my face when I receive their message and photo. My biggest kick comes from seeing my book on the trail. Knowing it’s relevant to these energetic young people is a bonus. Below are comments for The Ozarks posted on Amazon.com. I’m thankful that hikers are liking my two-year labor of love!

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Seeing The Ozarks at Pack Rat in Fayetteville was a thrill!

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Former student, Dax, found The Ozarks in Hot Springs

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-amThe best trail book I’ve ever read. That’s comparing others written for Northern CA to Maine, and everything in-between. This guide not only offers suggestions for day hikes, but how get there, what to expect on the trail, side-trails to hit or skip, how far to civilization to stock up on supplies, and noteworthy places to stop and gawk when on the road from here to there.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am This is a very helpful book for anyone interested in hiking in the Ozarks. Whether you are a beginner or an avid hiker there is an Ozark trail here for you. We are especially interested in the Mulberry and Buffalo rivers and were happy to see that several of the trails are in those areas. Looking forward to seeing how many of these we can mark off our list in the upcoming year…

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am I enjoy hiking and found Jim Warnock’s guidebook an excellent source for planning and making decisions about trails in the Ozarks. I have hiked some of the trails he described, but the additional information is greatly appreciated. I plan to continue making great use of the book for future adventures. Mr. Warnock displays great insights into enjoyable hiking adventures and it is certainly very evident he speaks from vast experiences in the great outdoors. I certainly appreciate his work on this publication and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in the beauty of the outdoors.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am Invaluable resource for nature lovers who would like to experience the great beauty of the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks. Hikers will find the detailed information particularly helpful.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am I am a hiker and I gave this as a gift to another hiker. She has used the book and loves it.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-58-59-am Excellent read. Planning already.

Visit my author page on Amazon to see reviews and my book signing schedule.

Five Star Trails: The Ozarks – Book Signings

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Harry McWater receiving a book and map from Jim Warnock

How often do you get to share a new trail for the first time in a Five Star Trails Guide and present one of the first copies printed to the man who had the vision for the trail? Menasha Ridge Press gave me permission to print enlargements of the book’s map of the Lake Alma Trail for display in the trailhead kiosk. I couldn’t resist printing an extra copy to present to Harry McWater to thank him for making this beautiful trail possible.

Here’s information about three book signings in the next two weeks. Please come by and grab a few copies of Five Star Trails: The Ozarks.



Chapters on Main in Van Buren, Arkansas book signing with author, Jim Warnock

  • Thursday, November 10, from 5-8 p.m. Businesses in historic downtown remain open late for Living Local, so this is a good chance to do some Christmas shopping.
  • Saturday, November 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The first 100 books signed at each session will include a bookmark with Hiker-dog’s photo and paw print.
Chapters on Main, 816 Main Street, Historic Downtown Van Buren, AR 479-471-9315

South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC) in El Dorado, Arkansas book signing

  • Tuesday, November 15, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

Book signing with author, Jim Warnock, in the lobby from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with one 20-minute trail discussion and slideshow at 6:30 inside the theater.  The first 100 books signed will include a bookmark with Hiker-dog’s photo and signature. A $1 donation for every book sold will go to Union County Animal Protection Society.

SAAC, 110 E. 5th Street, El Dorado, AR, United States 71730 Phone: 870-862-5474

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