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This blog chronicles the adventures I share with my husband, daughter and son. It is also a place to share what I am learning as a homemaker, gardener, book lover and homeschooling mother. Welcome.

Friday, November 3, 2017

21 of 40: buffalo river trail ~ steel creek to kyle's landing (a portion)

huge deer rub - exciting our hunters

The Buffalo River Trail (BRT) is, of course, a trail specifically following the river. It is not currently a continuous trail along the entire river, but that is the desired end result.

Two years ago we hiked the BRT from the city of Ponca to Steel Creek where there is a campground and many wondrous bluffs on view.  I remember that hike fondly as it was snowing when we first set out, the woods were quite sparse being November and with the cold temperatures it felt like a winter wonderland.

This year, we decided to begin at the campground of Steel Creek and hike towards Kyle's Landing (another campground with trail heads). After hiking Whitaker's Point in the morning, we came here,  ate a picnic lunch, then set out. The idea for these hikes was not to be intensive (as our trip here in May is now fondly described), but to just be casual, enjoyable. So we set out knowing we wouldn't hike very far. We made it past the campground, horse ranch and into a bit of wilderness and then turned back. It was a nice hike , but we just weren't "feeling it" to do much more. If you hike far enough in (about two hours uphill) you can turn back towards the Steel Creek campground and get an amazing view on high of the bluffs pictured above (I only know this from research, not experience).

The BRT, although not the entire length of the river, is developed enough that there many miles of trail enabling the hiker to camp overnight along the trail, which is common. I do think it would be fun to one day back pack into an area and camp overnight. Jesse has experience with this, which is probably why he hasn't pursued this for us as a family! I keep requesting tent camping, but he prefers to enjoy the outdoor adventures during the day putting our energy to that pursuit rather than setting up camp. It's such a good system for us, currently, that we probably won't add camping to hiking any time soon.

20 of 40: whitaker's point trail

down in the valley - twas a misty morning

 up on the mountain

the trail's destination: hawksbill crag

Our second trail on our Autumn adventure to the Buffalo National River was Whitaker's Point trail. We hiked this first back in November 2015 and at the time it seemed such a feat for us (me?); this time, it was a piece of cake. I do remember being a bit anxious on this trail the first time around. The children were ages 11 and 9 and much of the hike is along bluffs. Safety is important to me, and seriously, these are our children and I'm their mother so I'm vigilant (sometimes hyper-vigilant as the need may be). I'm not sure I thoroughly enjoyed it that first go only taking only one good picture of the crag. (Memory is a funny thing, though. I just went and re-read my first account, which is more thorough than this more recent one, and I did enjoy myself!)

The destination for this hike is the Hawksbill Crag. Some hikers are brave enough to sit out there on the edge. Some young men we met at the crag even camped there over night. The views are stunning but we stay away from the edge. Seeing this area in the month of October has the added benefit of color, color, color! The views from the crag are expansive and phenomenal, so we sat for a while to enjoy them before heading back as this is an in and out trail, around 3 miles total.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

the fourth week of october & the october garden

blackberry syrup with biscuits
(so thankful for freezer storage) 

not too old to read a.a. milne
this has been our evening reading as a family the past couple of weeks
the kids still LOVE reading about Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood
the original stories are so fun, highly recommended

homity pie, this time with bacon

final crepe myrtle bloom

the cleared garden 
a couple of those beds need new boards!

getting back in the groove of book work

We are back in the groove of our regular routine after a mini-break for Fall. This time of year will be full of breaks for hunting, Thanksgiving, Christmas. I encourage the kids to be diligent as we have the time and another break will be here before we know it (next week is hunting already!). 

The final total for the garden is in at 563 pounds! The total for 2016 was 502, so we're up 61 pounds. This, of course, is wonderful; I'm so thankful for the gift of gardening. Mostly for me I put a comparison, below, of what we harvested this year to last year. This year we were more diverse in the vegetables we grew and more balanced in our harvest amounts. Last year we had almost 300 pounds of tomatoes and Jesse was just reminding me that I complained about how many tomatoes we harvested! The amount this year at closer to 150 pounds was more reasonable for harvesting and processing. I still have a few tomatoes on the counter turning (slowly) from green to red and I just prepared the last of the fresh potatoes. It's bittersweet to no longer be gathering fresh produce from our own yard, yet lovely to simply grab what I need from the freezers and then complement from the grocery store. 

2017 Total ~  563 lbs.

Herbs ~ 4 lbs.
Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Cilantro and Chives

Fruit ~ 95 lbs.
Strawberries (86), Raspberries (4) and Blackberries (5)

Vegetables ~  464 lbs.
Kale, Lettuce, Endive, Spinach (11 lbs.), Cosmic Purple, Chantenay and Parisienne Carrots (57 lbs.), Sweet Peppers (23 lbs.), Japanese Long and Dutch Yellow Cucumbers (45 lbs.), Bush Beans (26 lbs.), Forum Onions (23 lbs.), Caribou Russet Potatoes (100 lbs.), Garlic (4 lbs.),  Beefsteak Tomatoes (3 lbs.), Roma Tomatoes (132 lbs.), Cherry Tomatoes (9 lbs.), Kohlrabi (6 lbs.), Golden Beets (4 lbs.) and Squash (23 lbs.)


2016 Total ~  502 lbs.

Fruit ~ 60 lbs.
Watermelon (12) and Blackberries (48)

Vegetables ~  442 lbs.
Carrots  (28 lbs.), Sweet Peppers (1 lb.), Cucumbers (1 lb.), Bush Beans (3 lbs.), Forum Onions (9 lbs.),  Potatoes (95 lbs.), Garlic (10 lbs.),  Beefsteak Tomatoes (60 lbs.), Roma Tomatoes (211 lbs.), Cherry Tomatoes (3 lbs.), Golden Beets (3 lbs.), Squash (15 lbs.), 
Tomatillo Tomatoes (1 lb.) and Lima Beans (2 lbs.)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

19 of 40: lost valley trail

Cobb Cave

 Cobb Cave

 Eden Falls
(too dry for a full waterfall!)

 Eden Falls Cave

The Buffalo National River area is one of the sweetest places for our family to visit. I view it as the place where we found our hiking mojo. We first visited the trails here in November 2015 and it's where I really fell in love with hiking. I think it was a mixture of discovering the children's physical ability to hike and the beautiful landscape we viewed. I've been many wonderful places with magnificent views - Colorado, South Dakota, Tennessee, Missouri, Florida - but there's just something about the Buffalo River area that is special to me. 

Last weekend we were able to enjoy three trails in two days. The first hike was on the Lost Valley trail which we hiked in November 2015. This time we did two new things: hiked off trail up the dry creek bed and explored the Eden Valley Cave. We also hiked right up to Eden Falls this time since it was too dry for the full falls. I personally think the dripping moss was beautiful in its own way!

This is one of the most popular trails in the area as it is manageable to hike and easily accessible. There were a good 20 cars at the trail head, but we only saw a handful of people on the hike. It was a warmer day in the upper 70's, but since we were in the valley and shaded (this was strategic) we didn't get too warm. At just over two miles it was a pleasant way to spend our afternoon and begin our time back at the Buffalo River.

Monday, October 23, 2017

third week of october

bluffs at steel creek - buffalo national river

university of arkansas

the dickson street bookstore didn't disappoint

roasted potatoes
our home grown stash is dwindling! 
each potato dish is now savored knowing I'll purchase store bought soon,
and there is definitely a taste difference

morning in the boxley valley - buffalo national river

my favorite way to serve green beans
sauteed in olive oil with onions then sprinkled with sea salt

the hawksbill crag on the whitaker point trail - buffalo national river

raspberry, apple, cucumber smoothie

cobb cave on the lost valley trail - buffalo national river

a pretty view in our own yard

This third week of October was a mixture of the regular weekday routine and a short hiking trip to the Buffalo River. This trip hadn't been planned for long as we didn't realize we'd have an opening in our schedule to return to our favorite hiking place twice in the same year. I'll write more about the trails later. We were able to be on three trails and two we had previously hiked two years ago when we first experienced this area. Since we hiked them at a different time of year it was a different experience, but it was nice to be on a trail  previously hiked because there was now a familiarity with the area. When we first hiked here the kids were ages 9 and 11 and we've hiked so much since then that the distance and difficulty of the trails were minimal. It was great to see how far we've come in strength and perspective hiking as a family.

Having been to other national parks that are busy, it's always treasured to be in this nationally protected area not overrun with visitors. We were by no means the only ones there, there was a steady stream of people, but this wilderness area is remote enough that the experience is peaceful, quiet, uncongested. We returned home quite refreshed from this little autumn getaway.