A Close Call
November 9, 2003

See those three small, light gray trees in the middle of the picture above? They saved my life.
It was the opening morning of deer season, and with Cliff being too young to sit still long enough for hunting, we left camp to go do some geocaching and maybe go see a waterfall.
We drove to the Cherry Bend trailhead on the Ozarks Highland Trail and hiked uphill to the Rock House, a rock overhang that was enclosed around the turn of the century and used by different families of loggers over the years. On the way we passed by the scary-looking stump monster pictured below.
We'd had a really big rain the day before - on the drive up to camp I noticed a lot more water than usual for this time of year in the creeks - so I talked Cliff into going down the hill from Cherry Bend to check out a couple of waterfalls. Their names are Murray and Senyard Falls and they are listed in Tim Ernst's Arkansas Waterfalls guidebook.
We were still a couple of hundred yards uphill from the creek feeding Murray Falls when we heard rushing water down below - always a good sign. We dropped down to the creek then followed it to the top of the 37-foot falls, which just happened to be the prettiest waterfall I'd ever seen. There was a great amount of water going over, and it was sparkling in the sunlight.
I told Cliff to stay put right above the falls and I started walking up a steep slope just past the waterfall so I could get in position to take some photos. I was paying close attention to the trees below me - just in case I was to slip - so I would have something to stop my fall. Well, sure enough, in a blink of an eye somehow my feet came out from under me and I found myself going downhill really fast. I reached out with my left arm for the first tree coming up towards me but I was going so fast that it knocked my arm out of its socket and I just kept going downhill. I immediately planted my rear on the ground to slow me down and to make sure I didn't miss the only other group of small trees between me and the vertical drop. It was quite dramatic - The group of trees I stopped on were right at the edge of the drop-off,  and the hillside behind me was quite steep for about 20 feet.
I almost passed out from the pain, but after about 20 minutes I managed  to turn around and crawl back up to level ground then get on my feet and hike back to the truck. I had to wear a sling on my arm for 6 weeks.

(A big thanks to Guy Veazey for sending me the picture at the top of this page.)