Sunday, March 29, 2009

Three days along the Buffalo River

Christy and I spent 3 days playing along the Buffalo National River this past week. It was a much needed trip to the woods. Originally, we had planned to canoe for several days on the river, but heavy rains just before our trip put the water levels up too high for us. We did see a lot of folks putting on the river to enjoy a little white water fun. Instead of canoeing, we based camped at The Nature Conservancy's Smith Creek Preserve and day hiked around several places in Buffalo National River Ponca Wilderness Area. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere!

We saw: Wild Ginger, Bloodroot, Wake Robin, Rue Anemone, False Rue Anemone, Spice Bush, Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, White Trout Lily, Yellow Trout Lily, Bellwort, Toothwort, Spring Beauty, Rose Verbena, Hoary Puccoon, Wild Sweet William, Cleft Phlox, Purple Violets, White Violets, Yellow Violets, Violet Wood Sorrel, Pussytoes, Pale Corydalis, Harbinger of Spring, and Dutchman's Breeches.

Up, but not blooming yet, were: Solomon's Seal, False Solomon's Seal, Comfry, Jack in the Pulpit, and May Apple.

Some of our migratory songbirds are returning, too. We heard Louisiana Water Thrush and Black and White Warblers.

Here a some pictures of the trip.

Day 1

Driving through Boxley Valley, you often get to see part of the elk herd. Here, most of the herd were concentrated around a tree.

Water level at Ponca low water bridge. Good floating along this stretch is gaged by the amount of air space under this bridge. Anywhere from 2 feet of air space to 0 feet of air space is considered good floating, with 0 ft air space being really sporting. Less than 24 hours early, the water was about 2 ft ABOVE the bridge.

Wildflowers were blooming everywhere, and I was really hoping to see Dutchman's breeches. This is the perfect time to see them, and they were blooming in many places we hiked. These were photographed along the road down to Camp Orr.

Wake Robin (or Sessile Trillium) and Spring Beauties were also blanketing the forest floor everywhere. The trillium is the larger, purple colored flower, and the spring beauties are the smaller pinkish flowers. There were also photographed along the road to Camp Orr.

Our first hike was up to look at a cave entrance, and here is Christy standing next to the entrance. With so much rain, you could really hear the water roaring down in the cave.

Just an interesting picture of a small fern.

Another neat picture of some moss along the trail.

Our second hike was up Shop Creek. Along the creek, we saw our first Bellwort flowering.

The view up Shop Creek.

Shop Creek with Christy on a boulder for scale.

Shop Creek drops over a sandstone ledge that makes a beautiful waterfall. In normal flow, there are only two falls. But, after a good rain, all three were going.

Another view of the falls.

We had some time before dark the first night to walk along Smith Creek before we set up camp.

Yellow Trout Lilies were blooming along Smith Creek and in many other places we hiked.

Day 2

The second day, we decided to hike up Indian Creek to see if the waterfall at the box canyon was flowing and to see if water was flowing out of Tunnel Cave. About half the hike up Indian Creek is on a trail, but then the hike gets much more interesting with lots of boulder hopping and scrambling!

Along the creek, we saw False Rue Anemone in bloom.

Another view of Indian Creek looking upstream.

Indian Creek looking downstream of a small waterfall.

Self portrait of the two of us at a small waterfall.

We picked the perfect day to hike up Indian Creek. The creek and the woods seemed particularly vivid and alive that day.

Here we are a Tunnel Cave, and sure enough water was flowing out of the cave. I've never seen water coming out of the cave, so this was a real treat.

Day 3

On day 3, we decided to hike the Bench Trail and then bushwack down Fish Trap Hollow to see an ~80 ft waterfall. Unfortunately, our directions to the falls were a little vague, and we never made it. But, we did stumble upon one of our favorite wildflowers, Hoary Puccoon, blooming in a small limestone glade during our bushwack. Finding this wildflower was especially exciting for Christy, because it's been years since she's seen it.

On the same glade, we also found Rose Verbena in bloom. It was disappointing not making it down to see the falls, but finding these two wildflowers in bloom on a tiny limestone glade in the middle of the woods definitely makes up for it.

1 comment:

Solameanie said...

Love these pix. I've hiked several times in the Buffalo River country and loved every minute of it. My dad was born at Mammoth Spring and my mom was born over in the East bottoms near Tyronza. Unfortunately, I live in Illinois.