Latest trip in the Ozarks

11:34 a.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I posted a link a while back with a short narrative and some pictures of my trip in the ozarks. I added another trip that I took over our spring break (last one :(... third and fourth year med students don't get them).

 

I throw the narrative together for my grandparents and older relatives who used to do this kind of thing but aren't mobile enough any more. The first one took a long time to do, but so many of them called me to tell me how much they enjoyed it that I decided to keep doing it as long as I keep taking trips. I do need to find a better site host though. Geocities sucks.

 

www.geocities.com/east_stingray/index.html

11:51 a.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I have to agree about geocities. PacBell/SBC/ATT changed from hosting my internet connection and "free" personal website to Yahoo and then to Geocities. I found the version on Geocities ridiculously hard to edit and update, so left it on the PacBell location.

But enough of the negatives (too many of these around these days). I think it is really fantastic that you go to the effort to put your TRs together for your grandparents and other relatives. I am sure they really enjoy seeing and hearing everything that their descendents and family are doing (it's a sort of immortality and reincarnation, plus as in your case bringing back great memories of when they were doing such things). As I approach "middle age" (the 70s and 80s are "middle age" these days), I am more and more appreciating what I heard from my paternal grandmother (my grandfathers and maternal grandmother passed away while I was too young to really remember them), aunts, uncles, cousins (most of whom were older), and now even my sister and nieces. It's also great to share adventures with friends.

Keep it up.

1:28 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm jealous. There is still a lot of snow on the ground here in Michigan, what bare ground you can find around here is a quagmire, and work is going to keep me really busy for the next two months. Then I transfer back to CA and have to get my certifications back up to date. Sigh. Hopefully by July I can hit the trails with my pack.

That was some pretty country too, especially when the sun came out.

1:30 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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Nate--

As you can see if you look under "Trip Reports" on this forum, I was in the same area just a week before you were. No pics with mine, but they would've been remarkably similar. A friend and I took a different route in, coming in from the South, via Kyle's Landing. Made for several crossings of the Buffalo. Beautiful area. Amazing amounts of storm damage in some spots. We saw lots of folks along the trail and at the falls on our trip--families to college kids to teachers on break.

 

BTW, where do you go to med school, if you don't mind me asking?

2:10 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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Those are some real nice photos.

Love the trail shots.

Northern Arkansas is very beautiful.

10:03 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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Great pics. The Ozarks have a very alluring magic. I have been to the Rockys and the Appalacians (several different sections), but the Ozarks stand apart. Each has its own magic really, but I really identify with the culture surrounding the Ozarks, and there are great folks there.

It is also great you post the pics for your family to enjoy. It is even better that they give you feedback for doing it for them.

12:21 a.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Nate--

As you can see if you look under "Trip Reports" on this forum, I was in the same area just a week before you were. No pics with mine, but they would've been remarkably similar. A friend and I took a different route in, coming in from the South, via Kyle's Landing. Made for several crossings of the Buffalo. Beautiful area. Amazing amounts of storm damage in some spots. We saw lots of folks along the trail and at the falls on our trip--families to college kids to teachers on break.

 

BTW, where do you go to med school, if you don't mind me asking?

I didn't know about the trip reports... that's probably where this post belonged in the first place.

I was interested in the Kyle's approach, but I have NO IDEA how you got across those river crossings. The only place I really saw much of the river is in one of those pictures and there was NO WAY I could have made it across that. Maybe the water was lower when you guys were there.

I saw some storm damage, but nothing like in the other narrative I did back in February. That was right after the storm and I was bushwhacking my own trails in most of those places (pedestal rock park, whitaker point, lost valley). I didn't see very many people; two groups and two couples, I think. That seems like a lot to me when I'm out by myself, but I guess I have to find something harder to get to (like Indian Creek) if I want to get away from people.

I'm at UAMS in Little Rock... it's the only medical school in the state. If you can't tell by my writing style, I'm a transplanted yankee... born in Benton, but raised in central IL.

12:32 a.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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The water was no doubt lower when we were there; the crossings, while interesting in spots, weren't really all that hard--but if the river had been up much, it would've been more than merely interesting. And it's much different when you're solo, too. I'd suggest checking out the Kyle's Landing route when the water's down--maybe late summer/fall. Actually a pretty easy entry into the Ponca if the river's not forbidding. And Kyle's is actually a kinda nice spot all on its own.

I didn't get to see the damage before some cleanup had been done, but it was still impressive. Must've been quite an experience for the folks around there. Did LR get much ice?

I live up near Kansas City, don't get down that way as much as I'd like, but it's sure a great area to enjoy. Hoping to get back down there soon.

10:09 p.m. on April 5, 2009 (EDT)
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I managed to sneak away again this weekend. I even had a bear encounter on this trip! Pictures are posted at the same link as before.

10:30 p.m. on April 5, 2009 (EDT)
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A bear! Cool! And now I can tell my doubting-Thomas friend that I've got second-hand reliable information that there are indeed bears down there. (He doesn't believe, and since it's an inconvenience for him if he concedes their presence, he's hard to convince.)

10:40 p.m. on April 5, 2009 (EDT)
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Okay, I do have to say that your pic of a bear is the absolute WORST photograph of a bear I've ever come across! :-)! I understand about not wanting to do too much to aggravate the bear, though.

My problem would've been that if I tried to take a picture, the flash on my camera, which is almost always set on "Auto" as my default for quick picture-taking, would've automatically decided to pop up the flash and illuminate the situation. Not sure if that would've been good or bad....

From the distance between those eyes, I suspect that you were much closer to the bear than I would've liked, myself. Glad both you and Ursus americanus came out of it unscathed.

11:56 p.m. on April 5, 2009 (EDT)
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Lmao. I know, I don't claim to be any kind of photographer. I took a couple of pictures of him, but my headlamp was set on the red "night vision" light, and didn't show up on the pictures. There was also a near full moon, so I could see fairly well. On top of all that, by the time I checked to make sure I hadn't crapped myself and fumbled my camera out, he had moved off the trail and into the woods. When I first came up on him, he was RIGHT in front of me with no tree cover or anything. It took me a while to fumble my camera out, and of course it was full from the last trip, so I had to fumble and delete pictures all while keeping an eye on him.

I didn't include it because it's a very convincing picture... more because it was quite an experience for me and I feel like I deserve the opportunity to make other people look at it :D. I really was disappointed that I didn't get a better one, but hey... all my arms are still attached, and I didn't have to call the ranger to tell him I shot a bear out of season and without a license. All's well that end well.

My camera does the same thing where it reverts to auto every time I turn it off, so in my ample free time (/sarcasm) I hacked the firmware so that I can disable the flash in the menu to conserve batteries. After deleting pictures to make room, I didn't bother with the menu since the bear was leaving anyway. I also didn't know how he'd react to the flash, even though I'd been flashing my SureFire flashlight at him.

As far as the distance, I'd call it fifteen feet or less. It was dark, and I had just come around a blind corner. I had talked to the ranger JUST before leaving for this trip, and he had told me that "in my 20 years working here, no one's ever run into a bear out here except when they were hunting them", so of course I was at my absolute LOWEST guard. Plus it was 1:30 in the morning and I just wanted to find somewhere to sleep.

I guess there's a lesson in this: the unexpected will ALWAYS happen when you are least prepared. Thus, it is wise to make sure that even your least prepeared moment is relatively prepared.

9:43 a.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Yowza. At fifteen feet, you and the bear qualify for the group rate for camping fees, don't you? Any closer and somebody better have a condom in his wallet, eh?

11:25 a.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Yowza. At fifteen feet, you and the bear qualify for the group rate for camping fees, don't you? Any closer and somebody better have a condom in his wallet, eh?

Hmm... I sure hope I wouldn't have been on the receiving end of thath deal. He was a pretty big fella... I'd say 275lbs or so, but that's just a guess.

9:02 p.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Nice report. How far away from that bear encounter did you camp? Your report was very interesting; where you were and what you did. It is a reason why I like this site: living in the northeast I don't have a clue about that area.

10:12 p.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I didn't make it a whole lot farther before I camped, but I made it a point to go in the opposite direction. I probably put another two miles or so between us. I realized that if he wanted to follow me, I just physically couldn't hike far enough to get away.

I don't bag... it's nearly impossible in that area, but I did leave my food in my pack and lean it against a tree 50 or 100 feet from my sleeping bag. I didn't sleep very well that night, however.

5:34 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing your trips man! Lot's of cool photos, do you always stay in a bivy? I used to use a bivy on through hikes, at some point I added a tarp, then tried a hammock for a while, now I'm just back to using my 3-4 season tent.

I know a couple guys that use their pack for a bear bag, they just add some rope and haul it up a ways. Not sure I'd recommend that method, but it might be better than leaving it on the ground.

The critters don't mess with your pack on the ground? And with all that water do you fish any?

I love sleeping by running water, puts me right out. Well that and a stiff whiskey before bed.

Thanks again for sharing.

10:31 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
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I haven't been on all that many trips in the last few years. I used to always tent camp, but last year I ordered a military sleep system which came with the GTX bivy. I decided to give it a try and decided it beats lugging a tent with me for solo expeditions.

I'm currently in the process of purchasing a hammock that costs more than all my other gear put together. If I like it I'm going to have to sell some other gear to fund the purchase :D

I haven't had any problems yet with critters, but for all three of these trips it's been pretty cold. Probably not a good idea once it warms up.

I do fish, but when I fish I like to go whole hog and have 2 or 3 shakespeares and a bucket full of reels. I hate equipment failure when I'm fishing. Since I can't really carry all that with me I usually don't bother when I'm backpacking. I tend to make it a dedicated fishing trip if I'm planning on fishing.

9:51 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, I know what you mean about the fishing, You really have to simplify things to fish on backpacking trips, but I can assure you, the thrill of catching supper is the same. It took me a while to get into it.

You will like the hammock thing I bet, just make sure not to string it across a deer trail. HaHa

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