Weed-Whacking Weekend at Williams Woods

The Williams Woods Nature Preserve is a 557-acre chunk of land owned by the Ozark Highlands Trail Association and located a bit northeast of St Paul in Madison County Arkansas.  The land was bequeathed to OHTA in 1993 by Alpha Williams, who lived there most of her life and wanted to ensure it was preserved rather than exploited.  OHTA has secured a conservation easement and now has the property for sale.

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Ozark Highlands Trail maps

It’s taken way too long but I’ve finally finished a set of maps for the Ozark Highlands Trail.  They are in a 17-page PDF that is intended for printing on 11″ x 17″ paper (or viewed on-screen).  Notable features:

  • Free download!  Can be printed by The UPS Store or many big-box office supply stores.
  • Non-Forest Service property is highlighted to help you avoid trespassing if you wander off-trail.
  • Many well-known waterfalls in the vicinity of the trail are marked.
  • 1:24000 scale and 40′ contour lines like the USGS quad maps.  Higher resolution and more detail than the fancy folding maps sold by the OHTA.
  • Up to date.  The new mile marker locations are shown (between April ’16 and August ’17 the OHTA replaced all mile markers with new ones in different locations).  Map #16 even shows the proposed re-route around the May ’17 Stack Rock landslide.
  • Boundaries for Wilderness and Special Interest Areas.
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Some renovation at the Big Piney trail head

For years there been a problem lurking at the Ozark Highlands Trail’s Big Piney (aka Fort Douglas) trail head: a perennially-wet area that usually left hikers trudging through mud at the beginning or end of their trip.

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Wind River Range: take 3

For the third year in a row the big summer trip was in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.  There were 5 of us this year, with RC & TC also returning for their 3rd trip and adding first-timers PD-C & CC.  Like last year, we were on the west side of the range and based out of Pinedale.  We started north of there at New Fork Lake on a 7-day, 40-mile route that included Lozier, Clark, Peak, Elbow, Twin, Summit, No Name, Cutthroat, Palmer, and Rainbow Lakes.  This basically takes us east for about 3 days toward the central part of the range, then south for about 1, and back west for 3 days.

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NTD at CRSP with the OTA

June 3 was National Trails Day and I chose to spend it this year doing some work with the Ozark Trail Association.  I’ve been a member of the OTA for 5-6 years but this was my first event with them so it was way overdue.

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The Buffalo River Trail needs your help

For the last several years construction of a part of the Buffalo River Trail east of Tyler Bend has been stymied by an old obstacle known as “The Roberts Tract”.  This is a 64-acre parcel that for various reasons was not purchased outright by the National Park Service when the Buffalo River National Park was being formed.  Instead, NPS basically settled for a scenic easement that restricts what the owners can do with it but does not permit public access and therefore, no hiking trail.

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OHT detour between Stack Rock and Dry Creek

A landslide has erased the Ozark Highlands Trail near mile marker 152.  A 3.1-mile detour has been established using road FR1201 and an old logging road.  Hiking  around the top of the slide would be very difficult, especially with a backpack, due to the dense brush, down trees, and the fact the slide begins at the base of a bluff upslope from the trail so there’s no undisturbed ground on which to walk.

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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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