Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hiking in Arkansas

A couple weekends ago, I drove down to Arkansas (about a 5 hour trip from Kansas City) to go hiking and check out the fall colors. Once crossing the border of Arkansas, there was a marked increase in the quantity of roadkill as well as encountering a church about every 2 miles. It felt a lot like home. ;-) This was my first venture into Arkansas and it reminded me a lot of North Georgia, East Tennessee, and North Carolina with the mountains, winding roads, and beautiful scenery.

Thankfully, I stopped at a national forest ranger station to get a couple maps and better directions to the trailhead. I would never have found it without their help. The first trail I went on was titled Hawksbill Crag and to get there, one had to take an unmarked dirt road with an incline and terrain making 4x4 capabilities highly desirable. The Altima persevered though and after about 6 miles of dirt road, I arrived at the trailhead. Interestingly, people actually live up there in houses. It's very beautiful but seems like traveling the bumpy road would get tiresome after a while.

When I arrived it was about 4:45 in the afternoon so I quickly hit the trail while there was still daylight. Hawksbill Crag is about 1.5 miles from the trailhead and juts out over an incredible view of which description and pictures can't accurately depict the breath taking view's majesty. I spent some time just admiring the view, taking pictures, and praying a bit.

With rapidly fading sunlight, I headed back towards the trailhead to grab my tent and set up camp. I didn't budget quite enough time to get out of the woods in the light and had accidentally forgotten a flashlight. This was cause for consternation and I became a bit anxious when momentarily losing the trail. I said a quick prayer, backtracked and found the trail again. Thankfully, God allowed a cloudless night with bright moonlight which helped in lighting the way back.

Setting up camp in the dark can be a bit challenging but I eventually got everything set up. The temperature was very moderate so I took my sleeping bag outside and watched the stars for a while. Living in the city limits the view of stars so I always appreciate getting out in the quiet and checking out the majestic view God created. It was a good time of talking with him about life and just enjoying His creation.

The next morning, I hopped back in the car and drove to a spot called Hemmed In Hollow where the major attraction was a 180 foot waterfall. On the way down, I stopped to check out Wild Vic's cabin about a mile down the trail. It amazes me that people were ever able to find or decide to setup housing arrangements that far back into the woods. The scenery was once again terrific with the occasional glimpse of a bluff or the valley leading down to the Buffalo River.

After around a 3 mile hike down, I arrived at the "Waterfall." Unfortunately, due to the dryness in the area the falls were much more along the lines of a trickle than a booming waterfall. Interestingly though, was that since the trickle had to fall about 180 feet and the wind was blowing, it had a bit of an effect like a sprinkler moving water from one side of the bottom to the other.

I then went and checked out the Buffalo River which was also way down in water flow. A local person I met there indicated that normally around this time, people are able to canoe down the river. I'm sure this area would be even more beautiful in the spring time when rain has been more frequent and the waterfall, streams, and river are flowing more freely. Incidentally, there was a fair number of people riding horses either on the trail or in the surrounding area. All told, total hiking distance was about 10 miles.

On the drive back to KC before leaving Arkansas, I let out a big Arkansas soouueeeie coming down a hill. It's just one of those joie de vivre things that you have to do sometimes after experiencing such magnificent scenery and mountain air. In the song "Indescribable," Chris Tomlin sings "from the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring" The colors were on great display.

There was a few random cacti on the trail as well. Who knew a cactus would grow in Arkansas?

1 comment:

Emily Herod said...

Beautiful pictures, Andrew! There's nothing better than fall trees! Thanks for sharing!

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