We’ve had a couple nice weekends since my trip to Wyoming and I spent them doing trail work on both the Ozark Highlands Trail and the Ouachita Trail. This weekend, however, it was time to kick off the local backpacking season – with a one-nighter in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness. The fall color was just starting in that area and added a bit of visual interest.
During one month that began almost 3 years ago I made my first visits to the Richland Creek Wilderness, the Buffalo River, and the Hurricane Creek Wilderness. From those trips sprang the idea of moving to Arkansas so I could be closer to great places like these. This was my first time in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness since then and it felt a bit like an anniversary celebration, with lots of reflection on all that happened between the trips.
I started Saturday AM in a cool fog at the Big Piney trail head and headed east on the Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT) into the wilderness and across to the north side of Hurricane Creek. I was surprised to see a little water flowing because I was kinda expecting to see none – it’s been very dry here and so many other creeks have dried up. I continued east to the east crossing of Hurricane Creek and then took the High Water Bypass (HWB) back west. The HWB climbs for a couple miles across steep terrain and it wasn’t until I was within about a half mile of the OHT junction that things started leveling-off and I could begin looking for a place to camp. Finding a spot that wasn’t covered with briars or poison ivy took some time.
Sunday AM I hiked back out to the Big Piney trail head, arriving about 10:00 AM. I obviously didn’t plan enough mileage for this trip. Rather than head home and “waste” the rest of the day, I headed east to the Chancel trail head and hiked the OHT west about 4 miles to the HWB junction (my easternmost point the day before) and back. Anyway, the end result for the trip was that I hiked from Big Piney to Chancel and back (maps 11 & 12), using the HWB on the westbound leg – about 25 miles.
There’s a large area in the northern part of the wilderness that probably sees very little use and deserves a bit of exploration so that will be the subject of future trips, I think.