Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A cold weekend up by the Buffalo...

The other weekend I went up to the hills to visit a relative who lives around the Buffalo River. So on that Saturday I actually woke up early (for me) and we headed out to do some hiking. It was cold, in the mid-30's, and cloudy. Along the road, in areas that were shaded, were lots of huge icicles hanging down, which must have been left over from the ice storm earlier...

Along the road

That was along the road north of the Buffalo River. We were going to a trail called "The Glory Hole," which is a neat little area where a creek has drilled a hole through the top of a bluff, making a 30-foot waterfall. I'd never been there before, eventhough the trail is right next to a road that I've driven by tons of times (it isn't marked).

It is only about a mile hike to get to the hole, though the first bit of it includes some walking along a somewhat steep hill. The trail eventually runs along a bluffline, making some small waterfalls and also some cool icicles...


Ice Ice, Baby


Then we managed to make it down to the Glory Hole itself. The water really wasn't running that much, so it wasn't as impressive as it would normally be. Here is the view from the top:

The top of the Glory Hole

And from the bottom:

Glory Hole

Glory Hole

And here is the view from behind the waterfall, looking out from under the bluff. You can't see the waterfall that well, except for the splash:

Behind the waterfall

Down at the bottom of the falls, another photographer guy came up and started asking some questions. He had a film camera, and was asking out mine and my aunt's cameras, which are both digital. He asked if we ever got any good shots with digital, and I said that yeah, it takes good pictures. Then he kinda laughed, and said that digital will never compare to SLR cameras, like his film camera. Then he went on to explain how digital is just nothing but little dots, and that they don't look good when you get large prints made. We kinda excused ourselves and headed back up the trail....then asked each other if we understood what that guy was talking about. I may have been a film snob before I switched to digital, but this guy didn't have a clue what he was talking about (my digital camera is a SLR, geez!). If you're going to be a snob about cameras, at least get your terminology right! OK, sorry, that story really didn't have much of a point to it, did it?

But as we were leaving there was this neat little waterfall that had some ice growing next to it:


And it was here that the unthinkable happened....I dropped my camera! I was trying to open up the camera bag when the camera and tripod slipped out and hit the ground. It only fell a few feet, but it left a nice little scratch (scar?) on the camera, though luckily not on the lens. Poor camera. I think I almost had a heart attack when it happened. If it were to break I guess I would have to go back to my old film camera and then harass people with digital cameras at waterfalls like SOME people do.

The rest of the hike went by without incident, or anymore camera injury. We got back to the car and headed up into Boxley Valley, which is probably my favorite part of the Buffalo River. Lots of cool trails are there, like Lost Valley and Hawksbill Crag (neither of which we visited that day, oh well). We did stop and see the old church there:

Boxley Church

And here is the old cemetery next to the church:

Boxley Cemetery

Boxley is also cool because it has a ton of elk living there now. Down the road from the church we saw this little group of elk sitting in a pasture:

Boxley Elk

Boxley Elk

Along with the elk, two trumpeter swans also live in Boxley Valley. These types of swans are rare in Arkansas, so its neat that they decide to spend their winters here.

Trumpeter Swan

This was the second year they've been up here, though there used to be three swans. Last year it was a male and female swan, who ended up having a baby swan in Boxley. The three returned to Boxley this winter, but the dad swan was killed. I've heard that it was shot (stupid rednecks) or that it was killed by a raccoon.

Trumpeter Swan

So it'll be interesting to see if they come back next year. They are a neat little addition to the Valley, especially since the pond they chose is surrounded by neat old barns:

Swan and barn

Boxley swan

Boxley Valley

Driving down from the pond with the swans we came upon the rest of the elk. There lots of them standing around the pasture here:

Lots of  elk

Boxley Elk

Lone elk

From Boxley we headed west towards Jasper in order to get to another neat place called Triple Falls. These falls are about 50 feet tall, and are just a short hike from the road.

Triple Falls

Triple Falls

Triple Falls


Triple Falls and icicle falls

The next day, before I drove back home, we did some driving around Eureka Springs. We went up to the Beaver Bridge, an old suspension bridge:

Beaver Bridge

Then I made the long, long drive back home. On the way I passed by the Buffalo River again and stopped for another shot, but it was nearly dark and the light was dreary so it didn't really turn out well:

Buffalo River

This makes me want to head right back up there...maybe when it isn't 30 degrees outside though.

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