Adkins Canyon
September 24, 2006

Each wilderness stream I visit has a distinct personality, I’m realizing. I imagine if someone were to blindfold me and somehow drop me into the middle of Adkins Creek canyon in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness, it wouldn’t take me long to recognize where I was.
I came to the area primarily to locate a route down to the Buffalo River. I still intend to explore every mile of the river upstream from Ponca, but the access points are few and far between. As I set out from the Dahl Memorial Trailhead I snapped a couple of photos to document the look and feel of the woods that fine morning.
I hiked along a wooded jeep road for three-fourths of a mile until it came to an area of scattered old fields. The plan was to find a knob one-third of a mile above the mouth of Adkins Creek on the Buffalo River, then simply bushwhack downhill. I wandered around the fields for a while then got back on the jeep road to continue toward the knob. Problem was, I had somehow picked up a second road and was unknowingly heading east when I needed to be going north. That road soon became blocked by a jungle of downed trees. I tried going around them, but there seemed to be no end. I must add that these trees - most  of them less than six inches in diameter - had been cut by chain saw. I turned on my GPS receiver and discovered I was off-course, and decided to bushwhack north until I hit the correct jeep road. After losing an hour in the jungle I finally came to open woods and crossed the stream above Tim Ernst’s Leaning Log Falls. A short walk up the hill had me back on the correct jeep road.
The road fizzled out near the knob but all I needed to do was keep heading in the same direction. I turned on my GPS so that it would tell me when I had reached the very top of the knob, and when I was about there I noticed out of the corner of my eye the remains of a homestead fireplace. I headed downhill toward the Buffalo. I had to choose my path carefully because the steep hillside was almost vertical in several places.
Soon I could hear the music of rushing water and through an opening in the trees saw the Buffalo down below. I took a lunch break on the bank, enjoying the view upstream. Less than a hundred yards downstream was the mouth of Adkins Creek.  Way, way up on the steep mountainside above the mouth of the creek was a small bluff overlook. I imagined how great it would be to enjoy a foggy morning on top of that rock.
I had reached my intended destination for the day, and could have headed back to the truck, but it was only noon. There was quite a bit of water coming out of Adkins Creek, due to the five inches of rain that fell there three days earlier, so I decided to go upstream a short ways and investigate.
I hadn’t gone very far before I reached a small waterfall on the creek. I wondered what was upstream, and soon found a second waterfall. Adkins Canyon had ensnared me; would not let me turn around. I kept answering the call to see what was up around the next bend, and met one little scenic waterfall after another.
One distinct trait of the creek was that its descent was gradual. I never felt like I was walking uphill as I followed it upstream. Another trait was that the stream bed was wide and flat, and except for the occasional fallen tree it was easy to navigate. It was indeed a canyon in most places, with a sheer vertical bluff on one side and an extremely steep wooded slope on the other.
I had done my homework on the area and knew I could possibly get back to the trailhead by following the stream for two miles. After I returned from the short climb up a side hollow to Tim Ernst’s Adkins Canyon Falls, (which weren’t running well enough for photos) I made the decision to take the upstream route. I continued to meet small yet beautiful falls on the creek, but was spending a lot of time stopping taking pictures. Several times I told myself “That was it. NO more pictures!”, but then I’d come to a waterfall I couldn’t pass up. For ever spot I photographed, there was at least one that I wanted to but didn’t. I will definitely be coming back to Adkins Canyon.