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 birds...it 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!