Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pedestal Rocks and King's Bluff

I was a little worried about this day hike.  I had read a review on from a guy who said this was the most miserable trail he had ever been on.  He complained about the humidity, spiderwebs, ticks, and blow downs.  He said it was so boring that he was going to head back to his home in Florida a day early.

I'm glad we didn't have the same experience that he did!  Was it humid? Well, yes, it is Arkansas after all.  Ticks? Again, this is Arkansas. There were a few spiderwebs and lots of bugs but nothing unbearable with the help of bug spray.

I admit we had fun at this guy's expense when we "complained" every time we had to step over a fallen tree!

The trail was wet and muddy in most parts due to the recent rains but it was easy to follow, short, and not strenuous at all.

We went on a weekday in June and had the place to ourselves.  It was nice to sit, relax, eat our lunch, and take in the views.

We followed the directions on other hiking blogs on how to get below the bluffs.

There was lots to explore!

Here I am crawling into a cave.  Crawling out proved much more difficult and I thought I was going to have to live there permanently.  It looks like you can just walk around but nope, that's a straight slope down the mountain.  It took me 4 or 5 tries to hoist myself up and out of there.

"Take a picture of me admiring this rock!"

Watch your step!  There were lots of crevasses on the bluff, some covered with branches and some not.  

There's an arch rock forming a natural bridge along the trail...

...and lots of beautiful scenery.  The trail to King's Bluff Falls was just as short and easy and ended with a spectacular water fall.

It was kind of hard to get a picture of how impressive this is.  

They wisely put up a fence/barrier were the water drops off the bluff.  We put on our Teva's and waded through the cool water...

...which was full of tadpoles!

Yes, I'm checking my phone.  We surprisingly had service in certain spots along the trail so I took advantage of it before grabbing our packs and poles and heading back to the trailhead.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kyle's Landing to Hemmed In Hollow and Back Again

My first backpacking trip!  I've done a lot of camping and day hikes but this is the first time I've combined the two.  Phillip and I were invited on a group hike from Kyle's Landing to Hemmed in Hollow and as soon as we agreed to the trip, I started researching different gear that we would need for a 3 day hike.  The span of time from our decision to go and the day of the trip was about a month so it seemed like we were getting Amazon deliveries every other day (FUN!).
So on a Friday morning, we packed up all of our new stuff and headed up towards Jasper, AR as it began to rain. We made the descent into Kyle's Landing and then the rest of our group arrived just as it stopped raining.  We all put on our packs and hit the trail!

 It was rainy season in AR...severe thunderstorms, flooding, precip chances every single day.  Fortunately, it held off while we were hiking and only rained at night.  All of that rain, though, made our 6 river crossings very difficult. 

 At our first river crossing, I rolled up my pants and put on my Tevas.  I didn't expect to hike the whole first day in my river sandals but I did.  The Buffalo River was cold but the PTA in me appreciated the therapeutic effects it had on tired, overworked muscles and joints.

 I had a hard time with these crossings.  The current was so swift.  My mantra was one step at a time.  I just couldn't think beyond one step.  I'd plant my wobbly trekking pole into the ground then I'd pick my foot up and immediately the current would want to take me under.  I'd try and find a solid footing on the rocky bottom then follow through with my other foot.  It was exhausting...and scary.
 The canoes and kayaks were out in full force that day and we saw 3 people lose their canoes and everything in them.  Outfitters stopped renting out canoes by Sunday because of the rising water levels and swift current.  Our group lost 3 trekking poles to the river and I think we were lucky.

 We finally arrived to the trail that leads to Hemmed in Hollow Falls...the highest waterfall between the Rockies and Appalachians at 210 feet.  The trail from the river to the falls is a piece of cake. 
And the waterfall is amazing.  We had the place to ourselves and spent some time lounging around and taking pictures.

 We all refilled our water at the last crossing and set up camp on a bluff.  Phillip and I got our tent up in no time and headed into the woods for a bathroom break.  We changed into dry pants and the best thing in the whole wide world...dry socks and shoes.
 After grazing on energy bars and jerky all day it's nice to have a hot meal for dinner.  We call it a night as the rain starts to move in.  It rains hard and steady all night and it turns out we set up our tent on a slight incline which makes us feel like we are sliding down a mountain.  We sleep, we wake, we scoot back up, we sleep, we wake, we scoot back up, we sleep, we wake, we scoot back up...

 ...we sleep, we wake and we stay awake until we're certain that the rain has stopped for good.  Then it's time for more tree hugging in the woods, then breakfast.  Thumbs WAY up for Starbucks via coffee and Mountain House biscuits and gravy.

 The pic above is what the trail looked like for our hike back to the campground.  It involved a pretty steep ascent which kicked my butt.  I kept having to take a break and catch my breath at every switchback.  I took solace in knowing that what goes up must come down and I don't mind descents at all.  We encountered a rattlesnake that took it's own sweet time making it's way off the trail.  We also spied a herd (a drove?) of wild pigs.  Oh, and a deer, and a turtle, and lots of chirping really is a beautiful place out there.

We made it back to the campground and set up our tent among the million other tents there.  Filled up our water at the pump provided, took a drink, yuck, spit it out, and headed to the river bank.  You can't beat fresh, flowing (filtered) water from the river.  We all drove over for a quick hike to Eden Falls in Lost Valley then Phillip and I drove back to campsite for dinner and an early bedtime.  The rest of our group went on exploring but I was spent.  They made it back in time before the thunderstorms moved in.  The rain was terrible and the loud crack of lightning/thunder made it even worse than the night before.  Tents on the river bank were flooded and people were scrambling for better shelter/campsites throughout the night.  The next morning was clear so we packed up our stuff and Phillip and I headed to Jasper.

We stopped at The Ozark Café for an awesome burger then hit the road for home!

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Gear List

I just completed my first backpacking trip! I plan on putting up trail pics later but I wanted to get my gear list down on "paper" for future trips.  I hiked with my husband so between the two of us we were able to keep our packs at 20 lbs each.  Oh, and it's important to note that this was for a 3 day/2 night trip.

Backpack - Teton sports scout 3400 

Bear canister - Bear vault BV500

Food - Mountain House meals for breakfast and dinner.  Granola and jerky throughout the day. Plus Propel and Starbucks Via coffee packets and cream.

Water bottle - Powerade bottle.

Toiletry bag- deodorant, panty liners, feminine wipes, ziplock for trash.

Pee cup - a plastic peanut butter jar for middle of the night urges. 

Dry pouch for phone, ID, and cash - Outdoor products dry pouch

Hand sanitizer


Extra set of clothes- shirt, leggings, socks, underwear. Anything non-cotton works. 

River sandals - Teva hurricane xlt sandals

Bandana - tied on to my trekking pole Stevie Nicks style.

So that's my pack! Phillip carried his sleeping bag, water bottle, clothes, first aid, and our awesome tent that held up during 2 nights of torrential downpours.  I'll get a complete list of his gear up soon.

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