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Eye of the Needle
October 19, 2003

It takes a lot of words and pictures to illustrate our trip down Indian Creek to the Eye of the Needle and Arkansas Cave. The pictures below are in the same order as our progression down the creek. Even though it was the middle of a dry October, the green mosses, ferns, and hydrangea were thick. Cliff was wearing a bright orange t-shirt because there was a deer season going on. Good thing, because he would have been lost in the pictures without it.
There was no trail to follow until we got to the Eye of the Needle. Except for a horse trail that crossed the creek near the top, it seemed like we were the first humans to ever step foot along this creek. We stuck to the creek bed, scrambling down rocks and boulders. There were many places where the creek bed dropped suddenly and we would have to go to the left or right of it to find ground flat enough to walk on.
With all the drops in the creek bed and all the lush vegetation this must be a paradise in the wet season after a good rain.
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It took us about an hour to get to the upstream side of the Needle. We stayed there at least thirty minutes - not so much resting as just taking it all in. The Eye served as a funnel to concentrate the flow of air downhill. Cliff had to put on his sweatshirt it was so cool. This cool air also caused moisture to condense on the rocks. Even though they looked dry, the rocks were slick and I slipped once and put a nasty scratch on the side of my brand new camera lens. In one photo below there's a close-up of a twig that looked like a snake. Cliff, being his mom's boy, tricked me into thinking it was real!
To the right of the Needle was an extremely steep path up the hill. This wasn't so much a trail as a worn spot from previous visitors. With a lot of effort we made it up the path and found ourselves basically on top of the Needle, or to the right of the top. We were no longer in the shadows of the valley, and looking north downstream we saw some beautiful sunlit fall foliage and limestone bluffs.
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There was a similar steep path downhill to the other side of the Needle. When we started down it we were facing several cave openings in the side of the bluff opposite the creek bed. Once we got down to the creek bed and could look up at the Eye, I forgot all about the caves and didn't get any more pictures of them.
We lingered on the downstream side of the Needle for another half hour - again just taking everything in. While I wasn't paying attention, Cliff scampered up as close to the Eye as possible. I had him pose for some pictures.
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Two young couples showed up from downstream and told us they saw some caves not far behind. Cliff wanted to go see them so I said o.k.
Still traveling downstream to the North, we came to a small cave on the right. It had a sign saying not to go in - something about protecting the bats - so we didn't.
At this point, passage straight down the creek bed is impossible unless you want to rappel. The creek makes a big drop. But a trail took off uphill to the left of the creek bed, and we followed the two couples up it. We came to a place that I understand is named the Crawl Through. It is a hole through a thin section of bluff permitting access to a way down the creek. On the other side of this hole is one of the most unique places I've been in the Ozarks. It is what I call a bluff shelter - a recessed area back inside the side of a mountain - but what makes this one so interesting is that you are way up high. You could tell you were high up - because out in front  you could see the terrain drop away in the distance. Plus the trail leading down toward the creek was steep.
As we went downhill we came to a long section of rope some concerned individuals have placed along the hillside to aid the descent or ascent. This rope ended at the creek-bed at the bottom of the hill. There is a very telling photo below of Cliff with a water bottle. Behind him to the right is a view looking back up the creek at the shelter. The rope is in the picture if you look close.
Arkansas Cave was just downstream. There were no signs posted, so we climbed up to the entrance. Cliff scampered up there like the monkey his is, while I crawled up and prayed I wouldn't fall. At the entrance I was able to stand up and was surprised to find that the cave actually ran uphill. We went in maybe a hundred yards - far enough to see some big groups of bats on the ceiling, and step in some big piles of bat poop. I didn't want to disturb the bats, so we turned around. There was water slowly streaming through the bat poop and going back toward the entrance. I used to drink water in little streams out in the woods, but not after that.
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