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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, June 23, 2017

17 of 40: indian creek

After our hike at Hemmed-In Hollow we went to the trail head of  the Goat Bluff trail since it was nearby. We didn't want to hike it that day, but we were considering it for our last hike the next day and wanted to scope out the territory. We happened to chat with a couple just ending their hike and got the scoop on the trail. The wife loved the views, whereas the husband didn't even go out on the bluff because of the heights. We didn't have complete peace about this hike because of the heights and knowing Ella wouldn't be completely blessed by that fact.

The wife then mentioned the best hike she's ever taken on Indian Creek the day before. Now Indian Creek had been a trail we researched, but it's not a maintained trail and there are no maps. When reading online hikers simply write "follow the creek." Since we have children "follow the creek" could mean a lot of things. This lady, though, mentioned that there was a trail along the creek, but at times you had to cross the water. She said the further you hiked in the more water and rapids you would see and that it was amazing. Well, firsthand accounts are worth something, aren't they? We decided to hike the no-map, follow-the-water Indian Creek trail the next day. We were not disappointed.

The trail head is only reached by first hiking a short distance on the Kyle's Landing to Steel Creek trail. Once you see the Indian Creek wooden post you head that direction. That was the ONLY marker for the trail. 

For much of the initial trail we hiked on the rocky creek bed that at this time was dry. For good portions we were on the trail beside the creek, but many times Jesse was leading us on rocks where the creek was flowing. We only walked through the creek with the children if it was a trickle. This wasn't a wade-in-the-water adventure. Jesse did amazing finding the actual trail or deciding what route in the creek itself was best (and safe). The kids did great following instructions and enjoying the process. 

About 1 1/2 miles was the first time we saw other hikers on the trail and they were on the return trip. Their observations were encouraging because so far we hadn't seen much water but they explained it increased as you hiked in and that there were two large waterfalls at the end of the trail. They also said that there was one point on the trail quite dangerous and narrow. Well, we knew all along that there could possibly be a point of no return for us, so that bluff might be it. We kept going and did come to this spot. We did not walk the trail where basically there was no trail, but were able to maneuver over the sides of the creek on rock, kind of hugging the rocks. I never felt unsafe. The key was going slow, staying together, making wise choices. (There are no pictures of that spot as we were focused on safety, obviously!) The best was yet to come, so I'm glad we figured out that area. 

waterfall from the cave

The largest final waterfalls were spectacular and I'm so thankful we made it that far! Also at the end is a rock called the Eye of the Needle because of the shape of the hole. I could catch barely a glimpse of it, but you have to climb via rope to actually get to it. Climbing via rope is not on our adventure list, so we didn't do that but didn't feel like we missed out. The water was where it was at!

final waterfall

Every hike is special in its own way. I couldn't have planned a better final hike for our trip than Indian Creek. We've never hiked such a trail and Jesse has never had to lead and make wise decisions in the natural environment in such a way for us. The trail was 5 miles round trip, but it took us a good five hours to complete. We really tried to enjoy the views, the process and take the time to be safe so that the adventure would have good, sweet memories and it does. Most of the hiking was peaceful (not many people are out in the Ponca Wilderness), quiet, beautiful to view. This was a challenging trail that required a lot of thinking and evaluating, yet it's one of the trails I most enjoyed from our trip. 

More Buffalo National River posts:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

16 of 40: hemmed-in hollow

Hemmed-In Hollow is a very popular five-mile hike in the Buffalo National River area. It was on this trail we saw the most hikers. The trail head is near the city of Compton and along the same road as the trail head to Hideout Hollow (our first hike of this trip). 

The hike down to the falls is entirely downhill and the elevation difference from top to bottom of the trail is over 1,000 feet. This would define a trail as strenuous. Since we'd never had the kids experience something like this we committed to this being the only hike for the day.

The weather was warm and dry the morning we set out and the sun was bright. It was steep hiking down, but not difficult. The hemmed-in area was quite expansive allowing for many people to enjoy the area at one time. The Buffalo River is less than a mile away so paddlers frequently stop and hike in for a view. We stayed two hours over lunch just relaxing, enjoying the cool, shaded area, the kids played in the water and of course the beautiful view of the falls didn't hurt! (One fun fact is these falls are the tallest between the Appalachians and Rockies.) 

Since we stopped hiking for so long we think that helped the kids on the hike up (up, up, up) out. It really was just straight up the entire way out. We all had Camelbacks so we could drink with ease and Jesse frequently encouraged us with a mileage count. The closer we got to five miles meant the closer we were to the top!

This is a very special area at the Buffalo River and I'm glad we took the challenge to hike this trail. I've never seen anything like this and the area was incredibly peaceful even with so many people enjoying it. I'm proud of the my children for mental and physical strength to do so well on this hike. Of course there are moments of "when will we be done?" but really those moments are rare and they do great on these hikes using the word "fun" frequently!

Our next and final hike (of this trip) was also described as strenuous and presented different challenges. It's probably one of the best hikes we've experienced as a family and provided a fitting end to our vacation.

Monday, June 12, 2017

15 of 40: round top mountain


The Round Top Mountain trail is just south of Jasper where we planned to have dinner. It had the potential to be a 3.5 mile hike, but since we started on this trail late afternoon and knew the children would be vocal about dinner expectations sooner than later we created our own 2 mile hike. There are many well-marked paths that criss-cross so it was easy to make short a venture of this area. 

Although a mountain trail, it wasn't a hike-to-the-peak experience. There was an initial steep, rocky incline and then a gradual ascent. In fact Jesse announced we were at the top when shrouded in woods, and here I thought we would have a view! The pictures that do show the beautiful view were taken on the side of the mountain. 

This trail was more overgrown than the King's Bluff trail so much so that Jesse had frequent checks throughout the hike. (Usually we just checked each other afterwards.) At times it felt like we were wading through greenery (because we were), and simple offering ourselves to the ticks! This sounds dramatic and really only a few were found. For some people I think this sounds awful, but it's just par for the course if you're going to hike. I sound very sensible about this now, but a few years ago I wasn't as calm (but if my children are going to be calm about ticks then I have to be calm about ticks).

By the end of this day we had hiked almost 6 miles, tired out the children and were ready for dinner. The city of Jasper is pretty cute and it's main street has a good number of restaurant options. We chose the Ozark Cafe which is a popular diner. These small town restaurants are always nostalgic for me as when traveling to my grandmother's in Arkansas (northeast area) we would eat at places like this. They're just easy places to eat because it's good food, kind service, a hodge podge of people eating and you can come as you are (which helps when you've been hiking all day). 

14 of 40: pedestal rocks trail

Pedestal Rocks trail is aptly named because you hike into an area where it looks as if rocks are sitting on pedestals! This was a nice early afternoon hike after King's Bluff and lunch. As you can see rain coasts were discarded and the sun shine returned.

This was a very pretty hike with all of the rock formations to see and we were still up high on the bluffs so we had expansive views of the area at different points.  The path was more clear than King's Bluff so I'm assuming it's hiked more often, which surprises me because if I had to choose I'd rather see the amazing waterfall than the rock formations.

The total loop (King's Bluff and Pedestal Rocks) was about four miles and since we completed them by mid-afternoon we felt we had plenty of time to get in one more trail on our way back north. Also, these two trails although being rocky (typical in this area) and steep at times weren't strenuous so we felt we had more energy to give to the day. We saved the strenuous (and best) trails for last.