Summer Snapshots
September 2, 2008
It's pretty sad when all the photos and words depicting our outdoor adventures for the summer can be placed on a single page. I put in a lot of extra hours working nights and weekends at my job, which I don't mind except that it doesn't leave much time for anything else.
I took the afternoon off, Sunday July 13, and chased after a line of storms that moved south toward Mount Magazine. I was hoping for a chance encounter with a rainbow, but I never caught up with the rain. I drove on up the mountain and pulled into the Cameron Bluff overlook area just as the sun was setting. The sunset, pictured at the top of this page, was amazing.
A month later (August 17), when I saw that I could take a Sunday off, I made plans to get out and spend some quality time outdoors instead of just laying on the couch all day. An early morning hike along the Buffalo River Trail north from Ponca sounded like a great idea. The night before, Cliff noticed me getting my stuff together and asked where I was going and if he could go along.
We got up at 4 a.m. so that we could be in the Buffalo River valley before sunrise. We drove up Fire Tower Road to a spot with a view of the valley to the east. There was some great fog in the valley, though it was a bit too settled and deep... not as high in elevation as I would have liked. The full moon was setting behind an old dead tree on the west side of the road.
Afterwards we drove down to the Ponca low water bridge and hiked the river trail to Bee Bluff. It was cool and damp, and Cliff started off with a jacket. I had my camera backpack or I might have worn one too. The trail passed a couple of wet-weather streams that would have some nice waterfalls after a big rain. One of them was pretty close to the low water bridge... something to keep in mind. It had numerous small drops along a smooth limestone channel. Along the hike I kept thinking that it didn't seem like August at all, what with all the lush green moss on the forest floor and the cloud-like fog overhead. We took in the view from Bee Bluff for half an hour before hiking back. The entire trip lasted much longer than I imagined; we didn't get home until 11.
Stacey and Melinda booked a cabin near the lower Buffalo River for Labor Day weekend. I sincerely hated to leave all my co-workers behind (they had to labor all weekend) but for the past three years Stacey and the boys had gone on several weekend trips while I stayed home and worked. Grant often complained to me about this, and I had promised him I would go on the next trip.
We left town Friday evening (just as a new crisis had developed at work I might ad) and arrived at the cabin near Cozahome around 10 p.m. The next morning, after a great big breakfast, we hopped in the vehicles to do some sight-seeing. We drove to the Buffalo Point recreation area on the river, and hung out for a while on a gravel bar opposite a tall limestone bluff. Then we drove to the historic Rush ghost town and looked around.
We returned to the cabin for lunch, then drove to the Buffalo River via Searcy County Road 99 for an afternoon of swimming and fishing. We weren't getting any bites on lures, so I started hunting for crawfish by turning over rocks in a shallow area. That turned out to be quite a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Grant joined me for a spell. At one point some crazy lady waded over to me and asked what I was doing. When I showed her the half dozen crawdads I'd stored in a clear tupperware container, she freaked out and yelled "those things are in here?!" referring to the water all around her. The boys and I tried fishing with a few of the crawfish but didn't have any better luck.
We returned to the cabin and James, Melinda and Stacey started preparing a big dinner with homemade ice cream for dessert. I sat out on the deck and relaxed with some microwave popcorn and a cup of my favorite Arkansas wine. I had intended on sneaking away to find "Wobble Rock" near Big Creek, but in my haste to pack I'd forgotten my copy of Tim Ernst's Buffalo River Hiking Trails, which would have told me that we were only 1.5 miles away. Dang It! It's a three-hour drive from home.

Sunday morning we drove to Wild Bill's Outfitters to finalize our canoe rentals, then drove back to the Highway 14 bridge to launch our canoes. Grant shared a canoe Callie and me; Cliff paddled with Stacey, James with Melinda (let's not forget to mention Molly!), and Stephen with Caitlin.
I snapped a photo of Cliff and Stacey in front of the bluff at Buffalo Point, then turned and got a shot of Grant in front of me. The sun beat down on us most of the time, but we jumped in the cool water countless times for fast relief. At one point after lunch we rounded a turn and were in view of an amazing hillside lined with bluffs at different heights. I got the camera out and took some pictures. Later I read that this Ludlow Bluff is actually the tallest on the river, though because it is a series of terraces most people don't think of it as the "tallest bluff on the Buffalo". A couple of bends later we were suddenly at Rush landing and our float was over. We were all surprised since we'd only been in the river a little over 4 hours.
The cabin was located about 100 yards above a lip of a small horseshoe canyon that the property owners named Arrowhead Canyon. The hollow drained into Big Creek, 3.5 creek miles above its confluence with the Buffalo, though only 1.4 miles as the crow flies. Every morning, heavy fog from the Buffalo and Big Creek extended up into Arrowhead Canyon. This amplified the feeling that we were up high, looking down into the Big Creek and Buffalo valleys below. Ridges between side hollows ran down to meet the valley running below Arrowhead Canyon in a classic Ozark mountain scene.
In the evenings, from the deck outside the cabin I spotted two distant blufflines lit by the low sun..one probably on Big Creek, perhaps just downstream of Loonbeam Hollow. The other possibly on the Buffalo just downstream from Bear Hollow and upstream of Caney Hollow. This second one gave me "that" feeling I get... that aching feeling of seeing some distant, unidentified Ozark bluffline and wishing I could fly over to it. "That" feeling also contains a strong sense that I'm viewing something ancient and timeless.