Archive for the ‘Trails’ Category

The First Designated National River in the United States:

At slightly more than 150 miles long, The Buffalo National River is one of the most beautiful, scenic and free flowing rivers in the nation. It is one of the most stunning natural treasures to see with its towering limestone bluffs and one of the most fun filled National Parks with its canoeing, rafting, horse back riding, camping, hiking … and just plain old sight seeing.

This weekend my buddies and I hiked to the catwalk of Big Bluff overlooking the River.

It was a little warm, making the hike pretty tough … especially the three miles “uphill”. Even though the entire area was packed with people, most of them were out in canoes, enjoying the river. In fact, as seen from above, one might compare the river traffic to holiday Interstate vehicle traffic. Below are a few pictures of Big Bluff and the Buffalo River as seen from several hundred feet above.
Big Bluff


Canoe traffic

Bif Smile

lunch time

Twin falls … sometimes called Triple Falls:

Triple 14



A Wonderful Place to stay after a tough, hot hike:

Thanks so much to a special friend for allowing us to have a comfortable place to stay for the night. Check out the view from the deck … wow!!! And, even though the owner calls it a “cabin” … you decide for yourself. Regardless, a Big Thank You to Mr. Dunn.

The view




I said it was warm … even the snakes were out.

Green Snake

A perfect night for star gazing:

Orion the Hunter

I forget how beautiful our night sky is … what a perfect way to end the day after a hike and dinner at the 1909 Ozark Cafe on the square in Jasper Arkansas.

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Centuries of Inscriptions Protected by National Monument Designation

This is without a doubt one of the most fascinating, interesting and beautiful places I have visited.
Beautiful because of the towering sheer rock sandstone promontory with an ever present water pool at its base. Interesting because of the blending of centuries of travelers who have left their inscriptions carved on the walls of the flat rock surfaces. Fascinating because one can see the remains of a mesa top pueblo that once housed roughly 1500 people in 875 rooms … circa 1275 – 1350.

As beautiful as the hike was, I was most captivated by picturing in my mind the residents and travelers who came to this spot for refreshing water and needed rest. I could hardly look at the inscriptions or the pueblo without wondering what life was like then and what they hoped they might share with us hundreds of years in the future.











Just a couple of closing comments:

First, I am so thankful for the Antiquities Act which gives Presidents the power by executive authority to create National Monuments like El Morro

Second, I failed to mention that the steps seen in one of the pictures at the top of El Morro were hand carved as part of a work program during the depression. Another piece of our history … maybe for another blog.

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It all started rather innocently in December 2010

Here’s the story. Three friends … JC, Bryan and I were backpacking and camping along the beautiful Richland Creek in North Central Arkansas. It was the last night on the trail, dinner and adult beverages were consumed, the campfire was a bed of coals and we were thinking warm sleeping bags. As random as this might seem JC announced that his wife had given him three glow lights … clearly we had to do something with them. Looking around we spotted a scraggly Cedar tree overlooking Richland Creek, activated the glow lights, hung them on the tree and The Annual Charlie Brown Christmas in the Ozarks Tradition began.

IMG_7492 Founders: Jim, JC, Bryan Year two

By Year four our numbers had increased and we were forced to locate a larger camp site. In addition, a new Charlie Brown tree was Christened.

DSC03161 Charlie Brown Tree 2013

Charlie Brown Year 5 happened this weekend.

Our group continues to capture the imagination of many and a hardy few actually put on a pack, a Santa Hat, help decorate the tree and enjoy this unique way to celebrate the spirit of Christmas and the awesome beauty of the Richland Creek Wilderness area.

First we made a short hike to the original Charlie Brown Tree

DSC00113 Notice the red bow placed there in 2010

We had eleven brave souls participate this year along with scores of well wishers … some even promising to consider next year.
All I can say is “you will love it”.

Whenever I get to this point in my blog entry, I figure I’ve said enough and pictures tell the story. Included below are a couple of shots of Richland Creek, the decorating, the campsite and other memorable moments. I hope you will enjoy … and consider joining us next time.

DSC00126 House size boulders, Turquoise Water

DSC00120 Santa’s Helpers

DSC00146 Serious Business

DSC00150 Daryl is proud of his work.

DSC00101 JC makes a pretty cool Santa.

DSC00156 All of Charlie Brown’s Helpers.

Above left to right … back row DJ, Bryan, JC, Charlie’s Tree, Daryl, Daniel, Jim, Randy. Bottom row Morgan, Napoleon, Eileen, Jeff, John holding another Charlie Brown Tree.

DSC00169 The end of a perfect day.

DSC00171 DJ and Morgan … is it time to go home?

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Frost Flower

Frost Flower

Yep … it is known as a Frost Flower and this is the first time I have ever seen one.
First, let me set the stage by telling you two of my buddies and I (see our photo below) were hiking in the Buffalo National River valley near Boxley, Arkansas. It was a cold morning in the mid 20’s and we were heading into a beautiful box canyon know as “The Penitentiary”. Very shortly after beginning the two mile trek into the canyon, we started seeing a forest floor dotted with these strange silky, ribbon like sculptures of delicate ice wrapped around small plant stems. Fortunately Bryan had read about them, knew what they were called so we spent countless minutes inspecting, photographing and marveling at this never before seen (at least by us) wonder of nature. I commented that whether we made it to the Penitentiary or not, this made the trip worthwhile.

Further research on the internet explained the phenomenon … the air temperature must be well below freezing while the ground temperature is still warm enough to send sap up into a stem. At that point, a small crack in the stem seeps liquid slowly that immediately begins to freeze and sculpt into a FROST FLOWER.

The other serendipitous advantage of hiking in below freezing weather is depicted in a few other shots below … waterfalls, unique ice formations, etc. Try it, you may like it!!!





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If one has read other posts of mine, it’s most likely obvious I and three other buddies take a hiking trip each year to some magnificent part of the United States … usually a National Park.
This year, our Fall adventure was to Crested Butte, Colorado where we enjoyed this unique, historic old mining town and the incredible mountain trails in the area.

We arrived on a sunny Saturday followed by a day of heavy snow on Monday and then a magnificent week of crisp, blue sky hiking.

Beautiful setting for this Historic City

Beautiful setting for this Historic City


Treacherous Drive

Treacherous Drive

Dark Canyon Aspen

Dark Canyon Aspen

The above photo was taken on our fourth day of hiking. This was a relatively short hike of four miles but a hike with a rewarding view of one of the largest Aspen groves in the United states.
Below … four friends at this magnificent overlook of one of the world’s larges living organisms.

Friends at the Dark Canyon Overlook

Friends at the Dark Canyon Overlook

Below are a few more random shots including a marker at a cemetery near the top of Kibler Pass and a shot of the 2000 foot deep Black Canyon near Montrose, Colorado.

I could go on and on but the pictures truly do tell the story of a wonderful trip.DSC09992




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Colorado Aspen and Arkansas Hardwoods …

I simply love Fall … the pictures below make this point in living color.
An eight mile hike yesterday in the Arkansas Ouachita Mountains gave me a glimpse of the colors to come. My shot of grouped leaves was just enough to get me thinking poetically … Wine colors … Cabernet, Pinot, Chardonnay. Fruit colors … Limon, Lime, Orange, Peach, grape. And the Elixer of the Gods, the golden brown richness of 18 year old Macallan single malt scotch.

Most of the shots were of Colorado Aspen at the peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Clearly they speak for themselves. In addition there are shots of Elk … this is the rutting season and we witnessed the evening ritual of female elk drifting into the meadows followed by first the bugling of males and then the grand entry of these huge, stately creatures.

We were celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of friends … just had to go to the Historic Stanley Hotel where we had a wonderful dinner and returned the next day for a complete tour … enough to prompt me to again read Stephen King’s book “The Shining”.

Finally, and pictures will come in the next few weeks, I am heading back to Colorado with three of my hiking buddies. To be continued then.


















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This trip was photography focused … We had the usual Colorado activities … enjoyment of cool high altitude mountain air, fine food, shopping, hikes and festivals. However, this time we spent more time photographing the beauty and details of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Enjoy!!!













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We were just going to Saturday Afternoon Mass …

What started out as a Saturday afternoon heading to Mass, turned out to be a serendipitous adventure in Downtown Little Rock.

Going to Mass at the historic Greek Revival Saint Edward’s Catholic Church is a treat by itself … the Architecture, the altar carved by German craftsmen, the leaded glass, the choir, the ritual and the fact that for over 100 years it has continuously operated in the original settlement of Little Rock. Our already pleasant downtown adventure did not end with a church service.

After Mass we drove the few blocks to the River Market District, found a parking spot, walked around for a bit on an unseasonable cool July evening and had dinner at Dizzy’s … another treat in itself.  Owner, Darla, has managed to create her own eclectic flavor of art, atmosphere, food and hospitality.

A great dinner behind us we were about to head West when Patti suggested we drive by the Bernice Garden on South Main  …  this time, a treat far beyond our expectations.  There was music, street vendors and more activity than I have seen on Main Street in the past 50 years.  These pictures with my Iphone (I was wishing I had my Canon camera) provide a sample of the full of life and commerce in this SoMa neighborhood.

With the River Market District, Argenta in NLR, Heights/Hillcrest and now SoMa, the heart  of our Capitol City is beating like a teenager once again !!!

It truly makes me proud to be a citizen of Little Rock  …

check out: thebernicegarden.org and southonmain.com  …. also …   somalittlerock.blogspot.com



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Possibly the best Hiking, Backpacking, Camping season in Years !!!

I declare October thru April as my time to enjoy the wilderness experience of Arkansas, The Natural State. There are no ticks, no chiggers, no snakes and few people.  There’s always plenty of firewood, plenty of campfire stories and plenty of scenic views.  Early season we have kaleidoscopic colors, mid season with leaf-off we have views unavailable the rest of the year and late season we have  wildflowers, waterfalls and the fresh new green of Spring. This past weekend I just finished my last outing of the season …  what an exceptional season.

Water was great and waterfalls were spectacular …






Wild flowers were aplenty … 



Dogwoods were the fireworks of the forest …

Never have I experienced anything like it … the new spring green was aglow with sparkles of white, splatterings of bright white, an otherwise beautiful but monochromatic forest was transformed with thousands of what could just as easily be random trees lit with white Christmas lights … unbelievable, unexpected, stunning … what a once in a lifetime experience.


Waxing Philosophical …

If you have read any of the books by authors such as Colin Fletcher, who backpacked the Grand Canyon or Everett Reuss, the young man in his twenties who disappeared while writing, painting and hiking in the Utah Canyonlands, then you understand how the wilderness can refresh your soul. More than likely you know it from personal experience.

If you have climbed a mountain in Colorado … maybe one of the fourteeners … or read books by Bill Bryson describing his hike of the Appalachian Trail or Cheryl Strayed’s book detailing her solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, then you have probably already picked up your pack and trekking poles.   You know what it means to leave behind the noise of the city in exchange for a pack on your back and the mind/body refreshment of hiking to a place most people will never see.

Maybe, you too will share the wonder of a season in the Arkansas wilderness.






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Perfect Fall Weekend at the Buffalo National River …

One can almost set his/her calendar for the first weekend in November and expect to see dazzling Fall color in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains.  This year my buddy, Daryl, and I camped at Steele Creek on the Buffalo River, hiked/bush-wacked to a water fall area and had a delicious meal at Low Gap Cafe. Low Gap, located on Arkansas 74 between Jasper and Ponca is the least likely spot one would expect to find a menu like this …


The Bluffs and Hills were Stunning …


Personal Creativity … While the waterfall was almost non existent due to below average rain, we were rewarded with the beauty around us and the unique creativity of an earlier hiker.  I spent more than thirty years in the furniture business and promise i’ve never seen a chair like this  …   Talk about the era of Assemble it yourself furniture!!


The Shot below is one of my favorite … early morning fog, the glow of our sun and the Ozark Mountains.  Wow!!!


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