Monday, October 3, 2016

Sam's Throne

I haven't been camping since the baby was born in February, so I was looking forward to heading up to the Ozarks with some friends for a camping trip.  We headed up after work on Friday, driving up Hwy. 7 while a heavy thunderstorm dumped tons of rain and lighting lit up the sky.  The drive was going ok, up until our ride started to develop a few problems.  We were just barely able to limp into the campground at Sam's Throne and were then able to investigate the problem (it turned out to be a blown belt).  Since there isn't an Uber service at Sam's Throne, we would be stuck there until someone could come up and rescue us.

But if you're going to be stuck somewhere, Sam's Throne is an ideal place to be.  The campground is right by a short trail that leads to a terrific overlook that provides one of the best views in the Ozarks.


It was pouring down rain when we got there, but eventually the rain cleared out and we headed out to the overlook. I had hoped that the rain would produce some cool fog down in the valley below, and luckily there was fog drifting up and around the mountains. A full moon lit up the scene. I tried to take some pictures, but couldn't get them to come out right. Something was wrong, and every shot was turning out too dark. I would later realize it was because I had managed to leave a polarizing filter on the camera. Whoops.


The next morning we headed back out to the overlook to see what the view looked like at sunrise. Along the way, I nearly walked right through this large spiderweb, which would have been unpleasant for both me and the spider.


We got to the overlook and saw that there wasn't much of a view there, thanks to a thick blanket of fog.


So we headed back out a few hours later, when most of the fog had cleared. We were able to get a good view of Sam's Throne, which is uniquely shaped mountain sticking up from Big Creek Valley. According to local legend, the mountain is actually named after someone named Sam. Apparently, back in the 1820's, Sam's sister was kidnapped. He was not too pleased by this, and went up to the top of the mountain and gave fiery sermons that everyone who lived in the valley below could hear. There's no telling if this story is actually true. Legend also says that Sam buried gold on the throne, but no one has found it (yet).


Sam's Throne is also a popular spot for rock climbing, thanks to the large number of sheer cliff faces that can be found here. It was much safer to stand on the top and take pictures.


Also enjoying the view was this spider, who set up this web along a pine tree by the edge of the bluffs. It's a good location, a much better view than what we had back at the campground!


The sun had managed to break through the clouds, but a few strands of fog managed to cling to the tops of the distant mountains.



And a panoramic shot, showing fog drifting around Sam's Throne and the Big Creek Valley.


This pine tree was growing right on the edge of the cliff, and was twisted and gnarled so much that it almost looked like a bonsai tree.


Thanks to the car trouble, we were still stuck at Sam's Throne that morning. Luckily, we had someone driving up from Conway to come rescue us. But of course, the person driving up to get us also had car trouble, and had to pull off the freeway near Russellville. So after a few more phone calls, we managed to find someone who drove up and retrieved our would-be rescuer and also helped get us back home. So finally late that afternoon I made it back to Little Rock, eager to get back up and visit the Ozarks again (with hopefully no car trouble along the way).

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