Weekend Quickie 11/24/2007
 

     A few weekends ago I got the chance to go on a backpacking trip with a few of my friends (Kyle D., Weaver, Hayden, Adam (Dump), Corey, and myself (Kyle P.) for simplicity), and let me say it was an awesome trip. 
     I was in charge of planning the trip, and this was a feat in itself.  It was the opening day of modern gun season, and as anyone who lives in Arkansas knows, this is a holiday in the South.  Through some research and a quick survey of what Kyle D. (my roommate) wanted to see on the hike, I decided to go to an area of the Ozark National Forest.  We went to an area that Mr. Tim Ernst had described in one of his books.   This place was called the Spainhour falls, although the namesake of the trail wasn’t our destination.  We were in search of a couple of falls that Mr. Ernst had found and named after his dogs. 
     We left early, and got to our destination about 11 o’clock with everyone ready to get out of the car and get on the trail.  As expected, the dog in our group spent the day sprinting ahead of us and running back to make sure we were still coming.  The hike was along a dirt road, and this kind of worried me.  I feared for us meeting an angry hunter who’s opening day had been ruined by a few knuckleheads trekking through the woods.  Thankfully we only passed a couple of old-timers heading out of the woods, and they were nice enough to even stop and chat for a second.  As we headed on we marveled at the beauty of the Ozark Forrest, and made many (maybe too many) stops at different pools and springs.   Once we had crossed the creek the allotted number of times, we took to the woods and began to bushwhack up the creek bed.  This was the toughest and most rewarding part of the hike.  We hiked about a half a mile up the creek bed and found a shelf above the creek to stop and take a much needed break.  This break we used to enjoy some hot food and a little rest.  I also go to try one of my newest alcohol stoves.  Once we hit the trail again we came to the most beautiful part of the trip.  As we turned the corner, we saw the waterfall we had been in search of.  While there was very little water flowing out of the fall, it was still the most amazing thing I have seen in a long time.  I have been backpacking for awhile, but for some reason, this sight touched something deep in my soul.  As I looked up the wet, black rock face where the water usually flowed from, I saw the deep green of the moss as the hung down almost straining to grasp the forest floor.  The contrast of the dark black rock mixed with the deep green hue of the moss made the sight something that seemed almost fake, it was so perfect.  Adding to the beauty was the streams and drips of water that trickled off the moss tips and hit the pool below.  Unable to resist, I climbed up and drank the water that had been purified by nature on its journey down from atop the mountain (I’m an Arkansasan, it was a mountain).  After the beauty had been completely taken in, we left in search of a campsite, as night was quickly approaching.  After realizing the terrain passed the waterfall went up sharply (and trying to climb it for a second) we turned around and began to look for a flat place to camp.  We ended up deciding on an area near where we had taken the break earlier in the day. 
     Once the campsite decision had been made, we began the time-honored tradition of gathering wood.  Since it was so dry where we were, this was an easy task.  When we has gathered a sizeable pile of wood someone yelled “now get five times that” (a hardy Survivorman reference).  The weather proved very conducive to getting a fire started, because no fire starter was needed, only the small flame of a lighter.  With the fire started and night coming on, we moved our focus to dinner and conversation.  For the next few hours the woods were filled with the voices of men talking about everything from women, to sports, and finally to the beauty of God’s creation that had been witnessed on the day’s hike. 
     After good food and better conversation, we all headed to bed, and the funniest part of the trip.  About 3 o’clock I awoke from my warm and cozy sleep to hear the pitter-patter of rain drops on my tent’s rain fly.  Luckily I had opted to put it on to keep in some of my body heat (even though the night wasn’t as cold as I had expected).  The funny part of this story was that Hayden and Corey had chosen not to bring a tent.  Because of this decision, they were sleeping next to the fire and were the first to realize that it was raining.  They spent the rest of the night in a constant state of daze near the fire and needless to say had a miserable night. 
     The next morning, the usual duties of breaking camp were added to the daunting task of drying clothes that were left outside either by mistake or lack of options.  After everything was dry (including Corey and Hayden) we headed back down the creek bed to follow it back to the trail.  As we walked back, the hike, as I have found to be the norm, seemed shorter.  I don’t know if it is because I’m ready to get back to civilization or if it is because I know what to expect, but it always seems shorter. 
     Once back to the cars and on the road home, we made the mandatory stop to the “mom-and-pop” café to talk about the memories of the trip and the personal likes and dislikes of the hike itself. 
     Upon looking back, this was one of the most rewarding trips I have ever taken backpacking.  Not only was the Ozark National Forest beautiful in fall, but I got to introduce some people to the world of backpacking and reacquaint some of my friends to their forgotten hobby.