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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Ouachita Trail shelter recon

I was finally able to get out and see the final 3 shelters built on the Ouachita Trail – Turner Gap, Suck Mountain, and Story Creek – all finished last fall and bringing the shelter count up to 21!

My OT maps will soon be updated with these actual locations in place of the guesstimates.  This next version will also feature markings for relevant area roads to make them more visible.

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Sugarloaf Mountain – Heber Springs

I made my first visit to Heber Springs AR, over in the general vicinity of Greers Ferry Lake, where many hiking trails are being developed.  The only place I was able to hike this time was Sugarloaf Mountain.  This is the one SE of Heber Springs – not the one in Greers Ferry Lake.

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New maps

I’ve kept busier than it might appear, but much of my hiking recently has been on trails I’ve covered before and I haven’t found anything new to say about them.  I’ve nearly finished hiking the OHT again, for instance, and have been collecting GPS data this time around.  I’ll soon publish a set of maps for the whole trail, with the new mile markers, private property boundaries, many well-known waterfalls, etc.

In the mean time, I’ve recently published maps of the East Fork, Hurricane Creek, Richland Creek, and Leatherwood Wildernesses and the Redding/Spy Rock Loop.  The wilderness maps are rather bare-bones now but as I get out and explore more of those areas I’ll add to them.

Dec 22 update:  I’ve also updated my Buffalo River Trail maps.  They now include a section of the trail that had not previously been published.

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