I set out last weekend to explore a new corner of the Buffalo National River, and for the most part I failed.
The Cecil Cove Loop Trail braids back and forth over Cecil Creek, winding past an old cemetery, long-abandoned settlements and rock walls and a spur trail that leads to two lovely waterfalls. But I didn’t get to see those things. First, I drove down a dirt and gravel road I shouldn’t have driven down, and only the fact that we were going downhill saved us from getting stuck (a sign at the end of this road helpfully alerted traffic from the other direction to hazardous conditions). Almost as soon as we came to the first creek crossing on the trail, the sighting of what looked like a sizable cottonmouth spurred a quick about-face.
Back at the trailhead, we stopped by the century-old Erbie Church, a tin-roofed, five-pewed building that wouldn’t look out of place in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, or maybe The Walking Dead. Eventually I wanted to re-try the trail’s loop in the other direction, away from the creek. By then our water supply was too low to make the miles-long hike, so we gave up on that attempt, too.
I wasn’t ready for this one. I’ve hiked seven hours in sand and up quiet and rugged corners of Yosemite, not to mention all the time I’ve spent around this corner of the state, but little old Arkansas still has some tricks up its sleeve. My hiking ability doesn’t matter much if I don’t know enough about the place I’m going to. I didn’t even think of snakes as an issue, which I suspect is because I haven’t spent much time alongside quiet, slow-moving creeks. I was overconfident. Lesson learned.
The weekend wasn’t a total bust — I got some time at Silver Dollar City, both above and below ground, and caught an unusual sight in my apartment parking lot.
Thanks for looking, and be safe out there.