Buzzards Rock Geocaching
February 4, 2007
Hard to believe it's been three years since we've been Geocaching. When we first started, we were hooked on it. The sport was in its infancy, and a lot of the participants had the same opinion as us regarding what it was all about: adventures in the great outdoors.
But then the well ran dry. Not only had we'd managed to search and find every single geocache hidden within 40 miles of home, but all the extra-scenic ones within a three-hour drive. The sport continued to gain in popularity but it suddenly went in a different direction. People started making caches very small - Micro caches they called them - and hiding them right in town. Before too long it seemed that was the only kind of cache available.
At first I tried to play along. I searched for hours in a county courthouse flower bed for a hidden cache. Turns out the cache was a fake water sprinkler hiding in plain sight. No way would I ever risk being throw in jail for vandalizing government property. Funny? Yes. Clever hide? One of the best. My kind of thing? No. The day that I logged on to the Geocaching web site and saw that somebody had hidden a cache at a nearby Dunkin' Donuts was the day I called it quits.
I continued to subscribe to a weekly newsletter listing new cache hides. Every great once in a while a player would hide a new cache in a scenic location outdoors. They wanted to share the location with us. I started keeping an online list of the good ones, because I wanted to visit those spots one day.
Well recently Cliff caught a story about Geocaching on TV, and told me he wanted to go on a hunt. I thought immediately of Buzzards Rock, a bluff overlook in the river valley southeast of Paris that would have remained a secret well-kept by the locals if not for the online Geocaching community.
The first available Sunday afternoon we put on some warm clothes, hopped in the truck and headed toward Mount Magazine on our standard route along I-40 to Ozark, then Highway 309 South. Cliff passed the time with a new backlit GameBoy he'd gotten from Santa.
When we reached the northern foot of the mountain around Cove Lake it was apparent they'd gotten quite a bit of snow recently. Everything in the shade was covered with the white stuff. Soon we turned East onto Spring Lake Road and took a route that included a couple of other dirt roads. We drove across numerous areas where the road was solid snow. Several of these were on inclines, and I always picked up a bunch of speed before we started up them, else we might not make it. I warned Cliff that we might be spending the night in the truck, because we were going down some pretty long and steep snow-covered hills that we would have to make it up on the return trip. The drive along the dirt roads seemed to take forever (it was 13 miles) but we finally reached the parking spot at a clearing beside a pond.
As usual we were short on time. We had a 1.5-mile round-trip hike ahead of us, and the sun was sinking fast. We hurried down a sloppy logging road covered with snow and red mud left by recent four-wheelers. There were quite a few turkey tracks in the snow. It was when Cliff started stomping on some frozen puddles that I realized I was in big trouble when we got home. He was wearing his brand-new tennis shoes, and Mom had specifically told me to make sure he wore something else! (I relayed the order but didn't check to make sure it was followed.) To make matters worse, he wasn't wearing any socks. I felt like such a bad Dad at that moment.
It only took us 20 minutes to reach the bluff area. Cliff started looking for the Geocache while I headed downhill about 60 yards to the bluff edge to snap some pictures. The view from the bluff was worth the effort. Directly west in front of me rose a mountain (another one named Rich Mountain) slightly taller than Buzzards Rock, where we were.
Turning a bit to the south, I could see the western side of Mount Magazine in the distance. Past the north edge of Rich Mountain I spotted the familiar shape of Short Mountain rising above the river valley. The bluff line curved around to face Shoal Bay and Lake Dardanelle to the northeast (pictured at the top of this page), but I didn't have time to venture in that direction.

After a brief round of snapping photos I packed away the camera and hollered for Cliff. Somehow he wound up directly below me. I could see some interesting rock formations down where he was, but we running out of daylight so I told him to come up to my level.
I helped him find the Geocache, then while he was filling out the log book and sorting through the trade items in the container, I went back down to the bluff edge to grab my camera bag. I got out the camera and took one last photo showing the north edge of Rich Mountain with Short Mountain in the distance.

We double-timed it back to the truck and got there with just enough light to see. We made it back up those snowy hills and home without incident. I didn't even get in trouble!