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  3. The Ozarks of northwest Arkansas and southern Missouri are full of magical places, and thanks to the rest of the world’s inattention to this glorious natural area, solitude can often be easily found. Eye-catching geology abounds as a consequence of erosion of the high plateau that created the peaks and hollows characteristic of the area. Clear rivers and streams lace through limestone bluffs and natural bridges and over waterfalls, making the Ozarks an outdoor paradise. There are so many spots with stunning scenery in the Ozarks that the best thing to do is base your adventure in one locale and explore for a few days. We recently visited the area near Jasper, a very small town on the Buffalo National River. There, we stayed at the Cliff House, a hotel and restaurant overlooking the “Arkansas Grand Canyon,” a wide canyon carved by the Buffalo, and took in three short, easy, and very scenic hikes. Alum Cove Natural bridges are surprisingly common in the Ozarks and one of the largest is at Alum Cove Natural Bridge Geological Area in the Ozark Natural Forest. The arch is 130 feet long and 20 feet wide, all that remains of what was once a quartz sandstone cave. Parking is near a sizable picnic area with tables and a restroom, a convenient stop before hiking down the switchbacks into the hollow. It’s only about 4 tenths of a mile to the arch but the entire 1.1-mile nature trail is worth the time to hike it. While it’s interesting walking atop the arch, the view from below is much more intriguing.The trail continues down the hill from the base of the arch and follows a bluffline with a shallow cave, then loops back up to the trailhead. Directions: From Jasper, take State Highway 7 south for 15 miles. Turn west on State Highway 16 and go 1 mile. Turn northwest on Newton County Road 28 and go 3 miles. Kings River Falls The highlight of this easy, level two-mile round trip is a waterfall flanked by broad stone slabs perfect for picnicking and sunbathing. Kings River Falls is a popular swimming hole in the summer, but visit in cooler weather and you may have it all to yourself. Most of the trail runs along the Kings River, a clear mountain stream on your right, and on your left a hay field defined by an old rock wall. A grist mill once stood at the big falls — look closely for marks carved into the stone. Directions: From the community of Boston on State Highway 16 (between Fallsville and St. Paul), go north on County Road 3175 for 2.1 miles; bear right as the road forks onto County Road 3415. Stay on this road for 2.3 miles until you come to a "T" intersection with County Road 3500. Turn left, and go across the creek and park at the natural area sign. Glory Hole Falls Trail I’d wanted to see this place in the Ozark National Forest for years and it was definitely the highlight of the trip. The 1.9-mile round trip trail follows an old roadbed that drops down the hill to a place where Dismal Creek falls through a large opening through the roof of a bluff. The trail comes to the top of the bluffline where you can see the opening from the top. On the right there is a way to continue to the bottom. It is steep and slick in places as you enter a moist glade area. Once there, you can walk beneath the overhang and immerse yourself in the beauty of the waterfall, especially dramatic after a rain. Use caution, a hiker was critically injured here in 2015 when he fell 25 to 30 feet off a ledge to the rocks below. Directions: From Edwards Junction (the intersection of State Highways 16 and 21) travel west on 16/21 for 2.3 miles, going 0.7 miles past the Cassville Baptist Church. There is a parking area with room for several vehicles on the south side of the road, opposite a house up on a hill. Park along the highway and hike along the 4WD road, turning right at the bulletin board. Additional Resources: Two books that detail hikes in this area of the Ozarks are Arkansas Hiking Trails and Arkansas Waterfalls, both by Tim Ernst.
  4. Synthetic Clothing?

    Synthetics tend to be very quick-drying and quite durable. I wear synthetic pants and shirts, but wool socks and wool or nylon-spandex mesh undies.
  5. Best Chair for Backpacking

    I prefer light backpackking and chairs (like Alite MayFly). It's only 1.2 lbs and very portable. It sits really low to the ground but is really perfect for lounging back and enjoying a great view. But, you should weigh under 250 pounds.
  6. Segmenting the MST w/Dog

    Aaron, I really appreciate the feedback. The trip will be over my post deployment leave so adding days into the hike won't be an issue, I'll watch her train up closely. she's gonna start getting a good baseline of walks soon and once I get home we'll have a month I build her up. She'll be turning a year old on the trail (11NOV) but the vet gave her the okay to start running a few months ago. really glad to hear about the booties because Copper is super fussy and I don't see those being an easy introduction. max
  7. Segmenting the MST w/Dog

    Haven't hiked the MST, but from past experience hiking with heelers 10-12 miles a day is usually about right on a multi-day trip. 16 could be doable (I've kept most trips in this range restricted to dayhikes) with training but might be pushing it, it's tough to tell as these dogs will push through nearly anything so I find it's good to play it safe a bit. In my experience, booties aren't really needed as long as you get that training in to toughen up their feet, perhaps situations regarding sharp rocks, thorns, or ice aside. Training is a great idea though and I'd imagine you'd probably be able to get a better feel for what would work best once you get out there and start working up to those longer mile training hikes. How old is Copper? Never a bad idea to play it can always finish early!
  8. Greetings from NC

    Hey Max, oddly enough have a 12 week old red heeler myself, and almost named her Copper. Regarding hiking with dogs in general, I detailed a lot of my thoughts here in our first issue - might be of interest and welcome to the forum!
  9. Best Chair for Backpacking

    Ha, sometimes you do have to read the forums with a bit of caution! Same here and can't complain about finding something that makes my pack a little lighter or a trip a bit more comfortable / efficient though.
  10. Segmenting the MST w/Dog

    Hello all, I'm looking to start segmenting the MST late this fall with my red heeler, Copper. Training her up for hikes (with booties and potentially a pack) when I get home is my number 1 priority. Right now the plan is 7 days at around 10 miles a day, but I'm considering bumping it up to around 16 miles a day based on feedback to do 2 segments. Is this feasible with training or is that too much for a dog? Max
  11. Greetings from NC

    Hello everyone, My name is Max, originally from Massachusetts, did college in Chicago (Illinois Tech if there are any other nerds out there), Infantry Officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, and I've been out of the trek game long enough where I'm basically starting over. Looking to walk the world with my red heeler Copper. Short terms goals are to segment the MST in NC and thru-hike the New England Trail. Long term is to earn my US Triple Crown (AT, PCT, CDT). If you have any advice on hiking with dogs or trail recommendations I'd love to hear them. Max (and Copper)
  12. sierra's

    A friend and I took a 9 day trip to the Sierra's, including a brief jaunt into Yosemite, and two three day backpacks (in John Muir wilderness and Ansel Adams wilderness). We chose to fly from Denver into Las Vegas rather than Reno, as flights and rental car were both substantially cheaper. We were able to secure all needed front country and backcountry reservations thru in March. Arrived in Las Vegas Saturday, July 29 and made the 5 hour drive to our front country camp at June Lake (50 miles north of Bishop, CA). Up early on Sunday, and took our quick trip into Yosemite to climb Mt Hoffman--this peak offers 360 degree views of the entire park. We had been to Yosemite a number of times in the past, but for some reason never got around to climbing this peak--it's well worth it, and a pretty easy hike/climb--normally it would be a 5.5 mile round trip from the May Lake trailhead and 2000 of vertical. However, we arrived at the May Lake turnoff from Tioga road to find that the two mile spur to the trailhead was closed--thus we got 4 "bonus" miles. Still a worthy hike, and great views of the park: Returned to our June Lake campground Sunday night, then up early on Monday to get our backcountry permit for Lake Sabrina trailhead in the John Muir wilderness (just west of Bishop). Had a 6 mile hike up to our planned campsite near Dingleberry lake (love that name!). Our plan was to climb Picture peak (13,140) the following day. We were up early, and found ourselves at the back side of the peak after a fun ascent of a ridge above Hungry Packer Lake. Unfortunately, we found the easiest (class 3) coulouir route to be filled with snow, and chose not to attempt it--turned around at 12,500 and returned to camp. We were blessed with many misquito companions at our campsite--a byproduct of all the snow that the Sierras got this past winter. I had forgotten my headnet (only piece of gear I neglected to bring), and regretted it! We were up early the next morning and hiked out. Got showers and did a small load of laundry in Bishop, then back to June Lake campground. The following morning found us again up early and off to Mammoth Mountain to obtain our backcountry permit for the Ansel Adams wilderness-devils postpile trailhead. An hour before our 5am wake up, a bear chose to visit the campground garbage bin, which as about 100 feet from our campsite. A few of our neighbors got up after hearing the ruckus he was causing, and jumped in their vehicles, scared him off with their headlights--exciting way to start your day! We took the mammoth mountain shuttle to devils postpile, and were off to our next planned campsite at Minaret Lake. Arrived there midafternoon and were relieved that the misquitoes weren't quite as vicious as in the Sabrina basin. Had a thunderstorm move thru at dinner time, which forced us to retreat from our campsite (which was on a ridge above the lake) for an hour or so. Things settled down after that, and we enjoyed unbelievable views of the minarets--took a short hike to a ridge above our campsite that evening for even better views. The following morning, we ascended volcanic ridge, which was just adjacent to our campsite--about 1700 of vertical and 1.5 miles found us atop the ridge and staring across the valley at the minarets--a view not to be missed. I should note that there was significant fire haze throughout our stay in the Sierras--we were told by a ranger at mammoth mountain that it was a result of numerous fires in British Columbia--evidently there had been 136 (!?) lightning initiated fires in one day a few days prior! We packed out from Minaret lake the following morning, got a shower in Mammoth Lakes, back to our June Lake campground, and then drove back to Las Vegas, and flew home on Sunday. All in all, a great (although too short) trip. I did pick up a mapset of the John Muir trail (for future reference--plan to do this at some point soon as I am now retired, and have the time). Here is a link to the complete pictures:
  13. Banff NP

    Too bad about the fires, but I hope you enjoy your trip
  14. New Mexico Day Hike

    Lake Katherine is a good spot, I did a loop to there overnight several years ago.
  15. Banff NP

    I don't have anything in particular planned for Glacier Lake. I had to cancel another trip two weeks ago nearer to Banff due to forest fires and this is the first chance I've had to get out since then so thought I'd go and check out Glacier Lake.
  16. Banff NP

    Glad you liked the photos. What do you have planned for Glacier Lake? I wish I had hiked up to the tarn below the glacier at the head of the lake. Also, I noticed a pretty big waterfall on the side of Sullivan Peak. Getting there would involve a lot of scrambling and dealing with some brush, but it looked doable, just keep climbing up an old slide area. Please post a couple photos, it is a beautiful area.
  17. I used to subscribe to a magazine, I think it was called Packbacker or something similar. I soon noticed that every issue had three messages: First, hiking is dangerous: hikers were always falling down cliffs, swept away by floods, struck by lightening, eaten by bears, etc. Second, hiking is expensive. Every piece of equipment you need costs at least $300. Third, there is no way to DIY for gear, food, etc. Very frightening. The AT runs through my patrol area. I've helped out hikers who were having a bad day; and also helped carry few dead bodies and skeletons out of the woods. A PLB would have helped none of those people. The first and most catastrophic equipment failure or error occurs between your ears. It's just walking. It's not dangerous. Adventure is the fruit of incompetence.
  18. Banff NP

    Nice trip report wspscott, and great photos too! I'm off to Glacier Lake myself next week and can't wait!
  19. Banff NP

    I was lucky that I could get one night at Lake O'Hara, but most of the trails were buried under a ton of snow, including most of the Alpine Circuit. Hopefully, I'll get to do that next time The photo of Lake O'Hara is from Wiwaxy Gap, basically the only part of the Circuit that was accessible.
  20. Banff NP

    You were able to score permits to Lake O'Hara!! Congrats on that. Did you do the alpine loop? Still consider that one of my finest day hikes ever.
  21. Hi from Florida

  22. Oregon Trails

    Since I had to speak at a conference in Portland this month, we decided to make a road trip out of it and stop along the way to enjoy some of the sights and trails of our neighbor to the North. As usual, all did not go according to plan! We got Earth, Wind, Fire and Rain...although not in that order. We began with a long drive from Napa to Bend, through a scorching hot string of towns (Red Bluff, Redding, Weed, Klamath Falls all over 100 degrees) and some pretty dense smoke east of Crater Lake due to some large wildfires. We had a hotel reservation at one of the least expensive hotels in town: $180 a night. If we weren’t from Napa, where hotels are insanely expensive, we would complain more. A lovely dinner at the Jackalope Grill (how can you resist a name like that?) and we were set to start our first backpacking trip the next day. We were starting from Pole Spring trailhead, at the end of one of the best gravel roads we’ve ever driven. But as I was filling out the trailhead permit, M suddenly remembered that she had forgotten to pack any stove gas in her packs. That dirt road didn’t seem quite to appetizing at that point. Luckily, P thought to ask a couple of guys who had just finished their hike in front of us if they might have a spare canister in their packs. They has a partial, easily enough for our overnight trip, and they gave it to us with their very best wishes and kind regards. Thank you, Marvin! You saved us! So with gas in pack we hiked through three and half miles of burnt to a crisp forest before we finally got some shade. A big fire burned through here just a few years ago, and while it made for slightly better views of the Sisters Peaks on the way, it was pretty sad to see. But once we got across Squaw Creek, we were in heaven: lush forest, spectacular views, and a continually graded trail that never really got steep, even though it climbed 1700 feet from the trailhead to Camp Lake in nearly seven miles. We had been warned that Camp Lake might be windy and crowded. It was both of those things. There were six or eight groups camped around the lake, and the wind was howling down out of the pass. So we decided to collect some water and hike back down the trail ½ mile, where we had seen some lovely quiet and private campsites with views of all three Sisters peaks. (Middle and North Sister are not visible from Camp Lake). It was the right move. We were surrounded by clouds of California Tortoiseshell butterflies, the site was perfectly protected from the wind, and the views were simply amazing. So the very first day we got WIND. At 3 p.m. the smoke from a nearby fire began to blow in, and the views deteriorated. But we ate dinner, looked at the wildflowers, and settled in for a nice quiet night in our secluded nook. Dawn brought a glorious sunrise, and I took quite a few pictures. Then we were up and hiking out, down through the forested section, down through the burn zone, and back to the car in time to make it to the town of Sisters for lunch. There we learned that our next adventure was going to need an alteration, as the Whitewater Fire was pretty much right where we had planned to hike next. We stopped into an outdoor store to buy gas (good idea!) and consulted. The next best bet seemed to be a trip on the PCT South from Mackenzie Pass. This would take us on the Mackenzie Pass scenic byway, which was very cool, and get us out on a trail that shouldn’t have too much smoke. That didn’t work. We found a car camping site at Scott Lake that worked perfectly for us. There is no piped water there, so the 21 campsites rarely fill up. But the smoke was everywhere, and there seemed to be little point to climbing up on top of mountains if the view was all smoke. That’s takes care of the FIRE. We decided that instead of doing a backpacking trip into the smoke, we’d try to limit our lung damage with a day hike across the lava at the pass to Little Belknap Crater. This was definitely the right move—an really wonderful hike first through a couple of forested “islands” in a sea of lava, and then a trail straight across the rocks to Little Belknap. The lava was full of surprises, including lots of lava tubes, bubbles, wild formations, and a few tiny trees struggling to find a foothold 2700 years after the eruption that spewed the lava. So if day two was fire, then day three was EARTH—lava in all its forms. And that night, back at the campground, we got just a sprinkle of rain as well. Not enough to clear the air, sadly, but enough to cool things down a few degrees. And it got us thinking. There were some wonderful trails along the Mackenzie River, according to hiking book we bought by William Sullivan. Maybe that would be a better choice in the smoke. The next day we packed up and drove the rest of the Mackenzie Pass Byway, and then the lovely Highway 126 along the Mackenzie River. Yep, there was a campground here that didn’t have piped water, Ice Cap, and we once again found a perfect campsite within a couple of hundred yards of Koosah Falls. We hiked up and down the river, visiting Sahalie Falls and Carmen Reservoir while we were at it, and fell in love with this section of the river. It was roaring, it was icy, it was cascading over rocks and glistening though deep blue/black pools. Old growth forest, rhododendrons, ferns, currents of icy air and an occasional rainbow made this an unforgettable hike. After the smoke and heat of the Sisters, this was heaven. And it filled out our list with a day of pure WATER. By the end of the next day we needed to be at Big Table Farm, our friends’ winery north of McMinnville, so Day Five would take us a few hours in the car—but not so long that we could stop at Silver Falls and enjoy the waterfalls there on the way. What a treat. A volcanic canyon filled with waterfalls that have eroded the softer rock behind the falls, so that the trails led us through seven waterfalls, three of which we could walk behind. A lovely way to wrap up our hiking in Oregon. After the conference in Portland, we drove down to Eugene and followed the Upqua River (stunning) to Reedsport on the coast, and then drove the coast highway back into California, so that we could visit M’s sister in Brookings. And decided that we would have to come back and explore some more. As always, photos are on our photo page:
  23. Should I get the Mutha Hubba or North Face VE 25?

    My wife and I have been using a Mutha Hubba NX for about 1.5 years now and it has been a good tent. You will still get condensation when below freezing but with that tent, the doors are actually canted out from vertical so you can leave the fly doors open or partially open without getting precipitation in the tent, assuming you pitch it so the doors are leeward. It also seems much more spacious than the footprint would suggest because of the vertical doors and a relatively steep pitch at the base on the other two sides, and is essentially full height all the way across the top. And you can open those fly doors while sitting on your butt in the tent-no groveling around in the flora on your hands/elbows. Downside: It has little stability without the fly and isn't really free standing. But with the fly guyed out, it can take a LOT of wind. We have passed that test twice now.
  24. Earlier
  25. Banff NP

    I recently got to spend some time in Banff NP. Here is an abbreviated trip report, there are a ton more photos and details here A mix of dayhikes and car camping and backpacking 6/13 - 6/20/17 (3 nights camping) Dayhikes: Lake Minnewanka, Tunnel Mountain, Lake Agnes Teahouse (Lake Louise), Bow Glacier Falls. Backpack/car camp: Lake O'Hara (Yoho NP), Rampart Creek campground and Glacier Lake Day 1 highlight: Lake Minnewanka Day 2 highlight: Bow Lake Day 3 highlight: Hike to Lake Oesa (Lake O'Hara) Day 4 highlight: Lake O'Hara Day 5 highlight: tie between the Saskatchewan River at the Rampart Creek Campground and Glacier Lake Day 6: Howse River
  26. It's a high time to take a look at PLB if you risk going into the backcountry, especially in extreme weather conditions, isolated regions, or rugged terrain (dicey footing, river crossings, bear-countries), and you do so regularly. If not - there is no necessity.
  27. Hi all, my upcoming trip is to hike from West Glacier trail down to the ice caves in Mendenhall glacier. There are very limited info about this trip since the path after the west glacier trail is not an official trail (I think west glacier spur trail connect the west glacier trail to the ice cave), so I'm wondering if anybody has done it or got some tips to offer? I got crampons for walking on slippery rocks, and waterproof jacket, pants, and backpack, any other gear advice? Thanks in advance guys.
  28. Hi from Florida

    Hi all! I'm here to learn more about hiking and backpacking, and meet people who have similar interests. I'm a grad student in Florida, I love nature and literature about nature. I'm relatively new to serious hiking, my most recent trip was Mt. Cammerer @ the Smokies and next trip is to West Glacier trail @ Jueanu Ak.
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