Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hiking the Buffalo

So, at long last, here are the pictures from our backpacking trip along the Buffalo River over Memorial Day Weekend. The Buffalo River is a National River, which is a sort of National Park. Most of the parks in Arkansas are state parks. In this case, there aren't too many differences, since I think hunting is allowed in the Buffalo area, where it wouldn't be in Yellowstone. Anyway, the trail-head that we wanted was about a 3 hour drive from Maumelle north to the town of Ponca.

The trail was mostly downhill for the hike to the river, great news for the inbound hike, not so good for the next day's climb out. But that is another post. The weather was on hot, but not so hot as it has been since then, and we started at a higher elevation, so it was cooler at the top. It was probably the last weekend until October or at least late September that isn't too hot to go hiking. I suppose we could go hiking when it is 95 out, but really, why would we? I can roast quite easily in my own backyard, thank you very much.

Anyway, I didn't take the camera out of my pack until we reached Granny Henderson's Cabin - one of the reasons we chose this particular hike. A friend who is extremely knowledgeable about hiking in Arkansas told us that this was one of his favorite hikes, and that we definitely had to stop at the cabin. Granny Henderson lived in this cabin until the mid-1970s, when the National Park Service basically forced her out so they could create the national park area. The story, as told in a newspaper article and a homemade sign nailed to the cabin, is pretty disgraceful - forcing an old woman out of the only home she knew for 70 years. Not one of the government's better moments, I am afraid. But the cabin was pretty cool, and the area was lovely. I can see why she would have wanted to stay, despite the lack of running water, telephone, electricity, and transportation.

From the cabin, it wasn't far to the river. Our ultimate destination was Hemmed-In Hollow Falls, but camping is forbidden close to the falls, and we wanted to drop our packs somewhere before we headed to the falls.

We found a perfect campsite just up a little hill, off a side trail, ditched our packs, and headed towards Hemmed-In Hollow.

This picture must be from the next morning, because during the afternoon, the river was jammed with canoes and children and bros with beer. It looked like a fun outing, and we decided that next summer we definitely have to go ourselves.

From the river, the trail to the hollow goes back up into the trees and uphill for a mile or so. I managed to slip off a log while we were crossing a creek, bang up my knee and fill a boot with water - but I didn't drop the (expensive, new) camera in the water, so it was OK.  Later, I got my foot stuck in a rock and banged an elbow, but again, didn't break the camera. I think it is just my father's genes coming out - he was always scraping himself on rocks and logs when we went hiking, partially because he was so excited to get a better angle for a picture, or because there was something interesting to see.

Tomorrow : Hemmed Hollow, or the Traffic Jam in the Woods.

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