Monday, December 7, 2015

Steel Creek

There is only so much turkey you can look at when in a tiny cabin with ten people so despite the rain falling on the day after Thanksgiving, we drove down the mountain to do a hike in the rain. Along the way, we saw the local elk population making a presence. When I first started going down here, there were no elk. However, about fifteen or twenty years ago, elk were reintroduced to this part of the world and they have thrived to the point that there is now a small limited hunting season on them. Although there is a fence seen above, they aren't fenced in and are allowed to freely roam the Buffalo River valley. I think the fence was just put there to prevent people from driving out into the grassy area and destroying things.

I walked up to the fence for this picture but by then, they had moved about halfway across the open area to keep some distance between us. I can't blame them but that is the reason for the poor quality of the photo since the only 'camera' I had with me was my phone.

Due to the rain falling, we had the whole trail all to ourselves and the fungi above.

The trail we were hiking was a short trail from the low water bridge mentioned in a previous post to a drainage two miles away called Steel Creek that runs into the Buffalo River seen above. The bluffs this high on the river aren't nearly as tall as the ones further down closer to Big Bluff also mentioned in a previous post. Despite their diminutive size, the bluffs and the river are still very beautiful making this a classic hike.

Along the way, we cross many little side creeks that have worn the rock into a series of steps all the way down to the river. I have paddled on the river before after a rain and it is quite beautiful seeing all these streams of water cascading off the cliffs into the river.

I found this a nice example of how trees can grow in literal cracks of the cliff face. This one grew quite large in the crack before its weight peeled the rock above it allowing it to fall backwards.

Anther fungi loving the wet atmosphere. Our youngest daughter is only three and it really isn't financially prudent to invest a lot in hiking clothes for all contingencies of weather and so she didn't have any rain gear on for this hike. Since we were carrying her with a backpack most of the way, we thought she would be okay for awhile. However after a mile, she was getting wet to her core (though she never complained) so my wife, mother-in-law and I turned back and hiked back to the car while the rest continued on to Steel Creek before turning back. By the time we did get back, my littlest was starting to shiver so I'm glad we did head back when we did. The rest of the day, we all crammed into the cabin playing games and eating leftovers. The following day we headed back to civilization a day early since it was forecasted (and did) rain all day and we didn't think we could hack another full day in a small cabin. As has previously been the case, my two daughters are able to enjoy our outdoor pursuits more and more as they get older and we can start doing these things more often again. I definitely don't want to let another eleven years slip by before going back here again.


Kelly said...

Love the "fungi photos". I hate eating the things, but am fascinated by them in nature.

My brother in Little Rock made a long daytrip with his wife recently to drive through north Arkansas and see the elk, among other things. It's quite impressive how the population has thrived. Their son lives in Fayetteville (or one of those cities - they all run together now) and they get up that way fairly often, but not out in some of those rural areas.

Vince said...

There's a lovely wildness to it.

Ed said...

Kelly - I love mushrooms but only ones I can identify positively and for the most part that is limited to morels and shiitake, neither of which those in the pictures are.

Vince - Although much of it was logged 100 years ago, it has been largely untouched since which definitely adds to the charm.

Bob said...

Had no idea elk have been "introduced" in that area --- another reason for me to make a return trip!

Ed said...

Bob - If you do make it, the best time to see them is in the early morning in the river valley between Ponca and Boxley. These were near the low water bridge near Ponca.

warren said...

This looks like a fantastic place and very much like the place where I grew up. I loved it there, walking int he woods and seeing fungi, trees, rocks...whatever. It's just beautiful when you can get out and see nature, rain or shine

Vince said...

Now this is a job
Ansel Adams had it back in the day and they are reviving it.But only Yanks can apply. Darn.

Ed said...

Vince - I would do that job just for expenses if it wasn't based out of Washington DC!