OHT closure – Stack Rock to Dry Creek

The word is that the Ozark Highlands Trail north of the Stack Rock (FR1201) trail head to about Dry Creek is closed, and basically gone due to a large landslide.  This is about mile 151 to 153 and I imagine the trouble is centered around 152.  A temporary reroute may be in the works but the permanent fix will probable take a while.

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Backpacking 101 in the Hercules Glades Wilderness

It’s been about 2.5 years since my last trip to Hercules Glades, and for this trip I was accompanied by Hannah and Matt – a couple USFS interns working out of the Ava (Missouri) Ranger station.  They will be spending some time this summer evaluating certain aspects of the wilderness areas in that district (Hercules Glades, Devil’s Backbone, Paddy Creek, & Piney Creek).

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Shores Lake & White Rock Mountain Loop

A couple days with no rain and reasonably cool temperatures came my way and I made the most of it with an overnight trip on the Shores Lake & White Rock Mountain Loop.  It was the third time I’d hiked it, but my first time solo, and the first time going counter-clockwise.  In either direction there’s a climb of about 1200′ to the top of White Rock Mountain so I don’t think there’s an easy way – except to drive.

There are USFS recreation areas at Shores Lake and 6 miles north on top of White Rock Mountain.  The one on top has some of the best views in the Ozarks and is especially popular in the fall when the autumn color arrives.

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Just say no – to camp fires

My first on-line diatribe!  A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) indicates that over a 20-year study period 84% of wildfires were started by humans. Can you f-ing believe that?

Since the vast majority of camp fires are built just for entertainment this is a pretty disgusting situation.  Camp fires mar the landscape with blackened rocks and piles of ash and non-flammable trash. They leave areas stripped of the dead wood that constitutes the base of the food chain for much forest life. There’s a greater-than-zero percent chance you’ll start a wildfire. Do you find all that entertaining?

If you need a fire in a non-emergency situation to cook or stay warm then you’ve failed the first principle of Leave No Trace.  It’s way past time for people to regard camp fires as another one of those things people did back in the olden days when they didn’t know any better.

 

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In search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

I was invited to float part of Bayou DeView in Monroe county Arkansas to seek evidence of the elusive and endangered Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  The leader of the expedition was Jim Carpenter, founder of Wild Birds Unlimited, and a long-time “hunter” of the bird.

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Ozark Highlands Trail – Salt Fork Creek to Ragtown Road

It didn’t feel like it had been over 3 years since last hiking this part of OHT section 2.  There was a good rain a couple days earlier so there was water running everywhere and I was glad not to contend with the snow and ice like last time.

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North Sylamore Creek Trail – Cripple Turkey to Barkshed

This was the first trail I hiked in Arkansas during visits almost 5 and 6 years ago and reading those posts again sure brings back some memories.  My intention this time was a 2-night backpacking trip from Gunner Pool east to Allison and back, then west as far as I could go and back in the remaining time.  When I got to Gunner Pool I found a bulldozer and USFS chainsaw crew cleaning up damage from a big wind storm a few nights earlier, and the trail closed in both directions.  I headed for the west end – the Cripple Turkey trail head – to see if it was open, and it was.  On the way up AR-314 I could see smoke from yet another wildfire in the Leatherwood Wilderness.

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Wildcat Mountain – Take 2

It sure didn’t seem like 2 years had passed since my last visit to the Wildcat Mountain trails in the eastern Ouachitas between Lakes Sylvia and Winona. I hiked a couple short trails I missed last time, and was able to get into the southeastern area as the tornado damage I saw last time has been cleared.  My map of the area will soon be more complete.

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Smith Creek Preserve

The Smith Creek Preserve is about 1300 acres of classic Ozark scenery just a few miles south of Boxley Ark.  It’s owned by The Nature Conservancy – a terrific organization, is bordered on the south by the Ozark National Forest and the west by the Buffalo National River, and is open to foot traffic only.  This was my first visit and I was eager to see some new scenery.

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Ozark Highlands Trail – Lick Branch to Morgan Fields

A 2-night trip with a couple friends from Kansas City (RC & TC).  It was the first time seeing most of this stretch from east to west so some of it seemed unfamiliar.  The weather was pretty good, maybe a bit on the warm side – an odd thing to say in February.  The low temperature on night #2 was about 60 F.

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