Over and under

_C1_2096.JPGThe Lost Valley near the Buffalo National River was lush and green the first time I walked its trail, yet Eden Falls at the trail’s end and Clark Creek down its middle ran almost totally dry. I took another look this past weekend, sure it would be different after days of rain.

High rivers and the water overtaking pasture fences on the way were promising signs, and the creek at the trailhead burbled just loud enough to hear in the forest’s quiet. But it wasn’t long before the boulders and other shattered remnants of the cave that once enclosed the creek were dry and silent. The forest floor was carpeted in green with splashes of purple, but no water.



Soon, though, I could hear the sound of falling water from higher up on the valley wall. A steep but short climb took us to an emerald gem that many have taken to calling the moss falls. No more doubts for me.








_C1_2037This is the creek’s source, where it comes gushing out of a cave high on the south side of the valley. Eden Falls was lively and the creek below it flowed brightly. It seemed nothing but bizarre that the waterway further down the trail would be so dry instead of even more lively. Walking back toward the entrance along the creek bed soon gave the answer to this puzzle: a big crack at the base of another waterfall, where the water disappeared in a swirl of bubbles.


It wouldn’t emerge until a few hundred feet downstream, right before the natural bridge in that first photo.

Thanks for looking.


Lost Valley

IMG_4323.JPGThis is a post about big things and how tiny humans are compared to the world around them. The Lost Valley Trail down by the Buffalo River is full of bigness: big trees, big rocks, big caves. There are also plenty of small things. But it’s the behemoths that define this place.






The trail follows Clark Creek through a forest of tall, narrow trees that are abruptly interrupted by cliffs several hundred feet tall. The bluffs curve toward the pinnacle of the hike, Eden Falls, which are fed by a cave high above the valley floor. I thought our last rain would be recent enough for a healthy waterfall, but the creek was already so low that it seemed to disappear about halfway down the mile-long trail. The valley still has plenty to see.




IMG_4291.JPGOn the way back I opted for the riverbed instead of the trail. This stream was likely once an underground cave; now the collapsed cave roof and stray pieces of the bluffs have left it choked with chaotic, car-sized boulders that otherwise would have no business being in such a small creek.







IMG_4371.JPGYosemite — along with its even larger cliffs and trees — comes in less than two weeks. But the big places of Arkansas aren’t too bad in the meantime. Thanks for looking!