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Acord Hollow
January 24, 2010
I made my greatest waterfall discovery to date in an Ozark hollow I didn't even know existed two weeks earlier. Right before Cliff, Johnny and I got stuck on the side of that forest service road on January 10th, we had driven through some really pretty Beech woods and past some inviting moss-filled drainages running down the mountainside. When we got home I did some research on the area, and found Acord Hollow to be a heavily forested stream that seemingly had never been visited, at least in these modern times of digital photography, web blogs and social networking. As often happens, my imagination went wild with the prospects of being the first person to find and document a special scenic spot.
Following a good winter rain that I knew would have the waterfalls running, I left the house around 8 in the morning. I had a breakfast of microwaved corn dogs while I listened to Dark Side of the Moon. Along Highway 23 I noticed that Pig Trail Falls was running well. I stopped at the Turner Bend store for some pig chips and V8.
I parked near the Acord Hollow stream, just above its mouth on Little Mulberry Creek, a little after 10.
I crossed over to the north side and began walking upstream through the woods within view of the stream. I came upon an old abandoned car (I should have taken its picture) which confirmed my suspicions that I was passing through an old home place. There were just too many cedar and pine trees. Soon I entered woods with a more pristine quality; there were tons of young Beech trees with their copper leaves that cling all winter. For about a mile, the beautiful woods were nice and open and the terrain very flat. It made for easy walking.
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In the next half mile, the landscape got just a bit hillier and the stream ran down several pretty little waterfalls and chutes. Lots and lots of green moss covered the rocks and boulders. I was still able to walk upstream with ease. At the end of the half-mile scenic section was a spot where the water slid down bare rock for 8 feet then made a 2-foot mid-air drop into a pool. It would have made a great picture except there was too much water.
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Upstream from there the going got tough. The stream bed was quite steep and narrow, and the water tumbled down countless small boulders. I passed several gigantic, house-sized boulders  anchored to the stream bed and leaning on the north side of the  valley. It was pretty, but I wasn't able to take any pictures to illustrate this. I thought to myself, if I could be two places at once then I could go over to the opposite hillside and take a picture of myself perched atop one of the massive boulders.
The terrain flattened out quite a bit above there, though the stream banks were still steep. At a distance of 2.2 miles from the parking spot downstream, I met a small drainage running down the mountain from the north. I could see a waterfall up the hill, but I wasn't up for climbing to investigate. Two tenths of a mile farther, the stream split into two forks.
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I turned left and head up the northeast branch. A hundred yards later I got my first sighting of a huge waterfall up ahead. It was a double-drop type over 60 feet tall. Adding to the character of this waterfall was the skeleton of a 30-foot tree which had fallen from above, it's upper branches caught on the ledge between the two drops.
Just my luck, the clouds decided to disperse about then and let the bright sunlight beat down on the falls. Though that meant I wouldn't be able to get a good picture of the waterfall, I still needed to get a snapshot. I climbed up the hill to my left, beside another tall waterfall pouring from the same bluff line, to get a good view of the double-drop falls.
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After taking snapshots of both waterfalls, I returned to the fork in the stream and took a right up the south branch. This entered a small horseshoe canyon with its own 30-foot waterfall.
By the time I started heading back downstream, my legs and feet were starting to complain about the effects of the 3 miles they had already travelled. Not that it mattered, because I was running out of light and had two and a half miles to go. The next mile was the hardest, because I was walking along the steep hillside on the south side of the stream with my ankles constantly turned. I was hoping I might run into an old roadbed (I hiked along one for a bit during the first mile coming in) but that never happened.
When I got to the flatter terrain and had a mile and a half to go, it was so dark that I had to use a headlamp. I walked at a good clip the rest of the way. The temperature was starting to drop a lot, but the air was still and damp and felt great. At some point I had crossed over to the north side of the creek. I felt like I might have been walking along an old road path, which was confirmed when I saw old initials carved high up on the side of a Beech tree.
I was starving by the time I reached the Tahoe at 6:20; in the last 8 hours I'd only eaten two granola bars. When I got to I-40, I drove the extra 3 miles east to the nearest McDonald's.
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