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Ponca to Kyles Landing – March 2014

Granny's Upstairs

Granny’s Henderson Upstairs

I never grow weary of my trips to the Buffalo National River.  The thought crossed my mind that these woods and this river feel more like home than home does because of over 45 years of pilgrimages into this park, even before it was a park.  Again, the day was special because for one of us was here for the first time or at least his first float on this section.  Temps were in the 50’s light breeze and clear skies.  Certainly cool enough you didn’t want to flip.  The water was perfect at about 20 inches air space at the Ponca Bridge.  The Elk were in the pasture at the launch, well trained by the Game and Fish at the nearby Elk Education Center (old joke). I saw no babies yet.   People watching is never boring whether it’s the elk watchers, the floaters or the guy on horseback whose mount wouldn’t get out of the middle of the stream.  In fact, the old grey faced animal tried to chase a couple of us floating by. Spring break brought out the campers and backpackers along the route.  Lick Ford and Grey Rock didn’t disappoint with their whitewater. Pictures include Granny Henderson’s Cabin being visited by a group of horses tried to trees out front, Hemmed in Hollow flowing well and always Bear Cave Hollow makes you just want to till dark.    I can’t wait to get back.

horses to trees

Horses tied to trees out front

rules

We misread rule one?

Hemmed in Hollow

Hemmed in Hollow

Bear Cave Hollow

Bear Cave Hollow

 

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Kayaking

 

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Logging the Woods

The logging operations behind our cabin have opened up this view for us. It’s a 20 minute hike to the top of the mountain but worth the trip. I take the granddog, Maddie, for a walk in the afternoons exploring the destruction and waste of the loggers. Maddie may just be the world’s best hiking dog. The logging has opened up new trails for us. The new roads have given us access to old roads yet unexplored. I wonder just how many BTU’s is in the slash and tops (firewood) that is now laying on the ground to rot.

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Summer hiking needs a few key environmental factors to go just right; temperature (thirst), a breeze (knats), wide dusty road (ticks). Otherwise, summer hiking is hot, buggy and not for the weak of resolve. After the hike, the shower feels so good. Can’t wait to get back in the woods this afternoon.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Grand Canyon 2012

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My Dad and I had the pleasure of traveling to the Grand Canyon with 4 other guys whom we knew through the Ozark Highlands Trail Association for a 4 day, 3 night backpacking trip.  We all got our Christmas festivities done and headed out the next day bound for the South rim just north of Flagstaff, AZ.  The trip took nearly 24 hrs one way so an overnight stop in New Mexico was necessary.  We arrived at the rim the afternoon of the 27th and was able to catch a showing of the movie that is played in the  visitors center right before we went to catch our first glimpse of the canyon and its immense size.  Standing on the rim is a completely different experience than even stepping a few feet down beneath the first switchback on a trail leading to the bottom.  Five million visitors a year visit the rim of the Grand Canyon each year.  One percent of those five million people take the time to tread, even a few yards, below the rim.  Only 10% of that 1% will ever take the time to hike the more than 4,500 vertical feet drop from rim to river.

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We started our hike going down the South Kaibab snow packed trails for the first 2 miles or so.  We followed both the NPS and my mothers recommendations by purchasing yaktraks which I will admit was wise.  The first few miles of trail is rather crowded by any Arkansas hiking trail standards but after you go 3 miles or so you leave all traces of day hikers. Many day hikers go further than they realize because of the easiness of going down hill without the realization of how hard it will be to walk back up.

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There are no words that can describe the magnitude of this canyon, and we were in such a small section of it. The South Kiabab Trail has some amazing views as it continuously plunges towards the Colorado River.

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The South Kaibab Trail is used for the mule train that delivers supplies to the bottom of the canyon.  Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch have a history dating back to 1869 when explorer John Wesley Powell discovered the waters of Bright Angel Creek and was also home to a CCC camp in the 1930′s who is responsible for most of the infrastructure still in existence today.  President Theodore Roosevelt visited the camp in 1913 for a hunting expedition and the camp was renamed after him for awhile.

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When you finally reach the river a steel bridge makes for one of my more pleasant backpacking river crossings in recent memory.  This is the bridge used by mule riders because of its solid wood floor.  There is another bridge a short distance down the river that leads to the Bright Angel Trail and a river trail connects the two bridges.

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The beach near the campground is a favorite place for river rafters because it usually has sun on it mid day.  The guys in this picture were on day 6 of a 16 day, 272 mile rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.

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Bright Angel Campground was a beautiful place in the bottom of the canyon. Mule deer were everywhere and acted completely oblivious to us to the point they even used the foot bridges to cross the stream on occasion.

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We day hiked up past Phantom Ranch to the Clear Creek Trail.  Clear Creek Trail makes its way up onto the Tonto Platform giving great views of the ranch and river below and the peaks above.  It was an out and back hike and provided some amazing picture taking opportunities!

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The next day we hiked out of Bright Angel into Indian Gardens Campground which is about half way up the Bright Angel Trail.  This section of trail followed the river for a mile or so and then began to climb its way up between two narrow canyon walls most of the way.  One particular set of switchbacks named Devils Corkscrew proved to live up to its name.

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Indian Gardens was a beautiful campground to spend the night before making the final push to climb out of the canyon.  When you sit and look up at the South Rim from the campground you can’t even imagine how a trail could possibly get up there. When we arrived at camp we took a short 1.5mi hike out to Plateau Point where we found a California Condor.  Condors are almost extinct but have been reintroduced to the park so seeing one was quite a surprise! 

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 We woke up on our final morning to 1-2 in of snow on the ground.  It made for a awesome winter wonderland scene that isn’t seen all that often at Indian Gardens. The hike out Bright Angel Trail was breath taking from both the view itself and the hike out.  The clouds and light changed all morning as we made our way back to the South Rim.  The canyon was completely hidden from view at times.  The light in the canyon changes constantly and makes for spectacular views but the snow and clouds enhance it even more. If your a serious backpacker then a trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon needs to go on your bucket list.

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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Backpacking

 

Centerpoint Trailhead – Big Bluff Hike

We decided to do a day hike out to Big Bluff in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness near Ponca.  We parked at the Centerpoint Trailhead which is a very short drive north on HWY 43 just outside of Ponca.  I’ve seen quite a few opinions on how far this trail is but they all seem to fall into the 3-3.5mile range, one way.  There is a beautiful view almost immediately as you start down the trail to your right but that is basically it until you get out on Big Bluff or continue down the trail all the way to Jim’s Bluff.  The trail itself is fairly nice and was only somewhat rough in just a few places.  The big kicker though is that on the way to Big bluff the trail goes down hill the entire way which means the way back is completely uphill!  The trail is built on an old jeep road which runs all the way down into the front yard of granny Henderson’s cabin.  Granny Henderson’s cabin is the last farm that was taken over by the National Park Service around 15 years ago.  Granny Henderson lived in the cabin and hauled water from the river everyday to care for her animals well into her 90′s before the park service forced her to sell out and move.  If your ever floating past Jim’s Bluff on the river, its worth the hike to go check out her cabin.

We hiked all the way out on Big Bluff and had a great lunch of pasta.  For those of you who don’t know Big Bluff is considered the highest sheer faced bluff between the Rockies and the Appalachians. It is supposedly 550ft tall. The view was incredible as usual and the weather was perfect.  The river was very low so lets hope we get some fall rain to get it float able again soon!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Rattlesnake Canyon Western Colorado

Great Colorado vacation! Went up on Pikes Peak, rode atv’s over numerous mountain passes in the San Juan Mountains over 3 days and 213 miles, visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, hiked into Rattlesnake Canyon in the Black Ridge Wilderness area near Colorado Monument and saw one of the biggest concentration of arches in North America,went up on Mount Evans and saw mountain goats and sheep, and took hundreds of pictures of marmots, chipmunks, pika, mule deer, and moose!
The Arches Trail is an adventure mainly because of about 10 miles of bad road to get into the Trailhead.  The trail itself is awesome and the arches are spectacular.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Rush to Buffalo City Kayak Trip

Dad and I decided it was time to do the last section of the Buffalo River.  This section flows from Rush to Buffalo City.  Rush is the last access point before the river enters the Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area where there is no motors allowed.  The river gets a little wider down here and has some long deep pools mixed with shoals.  Its 23 miles to Buffalo City and entirely through the wilderness area.  Buffalo City is a town on the White River and is located directly across where the Buffalo dumps into the White.

We left Thursday morning for Wild Bill Outfitters in Yellville so they could shuttle our car.  We managed to get on the river around noon. We planned to camp Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  We also decided to only bring our new Emo Hammocks in place of a tent which worked surprisingly well.  It was fairly warm and a tent would have been miserable.  This part of the river is known for its smallmouth bass fishing.  We lost count of the amount of fish by the first night.  It was fantastic and something we will do again! We both landed several big sized ones as well.  There was no one else to be found until we got within a few hundred yards of the White River.  We ended up paddling about 5 miles the first day, 12 miles the second day, and 6 miles the third day so we got off the river Saturday afternoon.  That turned out to be very good luck because quite the thunderstorm moved through that evening.  We saw deer, turkey, bats, snakes, beavers, and bald eagles.  The various raccoon’s who decided to raid our kayaks on the river while we were trying to sleep made for an even more interesting trip.  I’ll just say that it was obviously not these raccoon’s first rodeo….

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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Lick Branch TH to Abaugh TH on the Ozark Highlands Trail – March 2012

We had another wonderful hike on the OHT last weekend.  8 of us hiked a little less than 15 miles on a nice overnighter.  This is a great trail if you don’t want to wade a major creek. You will have to cross Lick Branch right at the start or finish depending on which way you hike it but it’s a pretty small crossing.  Beautiful waterfalls, slides and a major vista are included along with a major tornado touchdown area starting in the Accord Creek area.  OHTA has cut this trail back to a useable path and the tornado only makes an interesting phenomenon.  There was water along the trail but could see it might be more scarce on a hot summer day. Miller Mountain has a nice camp but we choose to no trace camp on the bluffs over Accord Creek.

The Story of the Lost Sole

Our trip pictures set to a little bluegrass from one of the group (click here)

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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