April 5, 2016

Indian Creek

If Kafka is my partner-in-crime, my boyfriend in my current partner-in-life. We love adventuring, and it's more fun when we adventure together. He's very brilliant and a jack of all trades kinda guy (speaking of which, if you haven't seen Master of None you should, and if you have and you didn't like it, we could never be friends). He's a very active person, whether it's a project that he's working on, riding his bike, or doing one of his detailed workouts--he even gets up and moves around when he takes study breaks, if you can believe it (where as most of us would catch up on the latest Bob's Burgers episode [same rule applies from above]).

The point is, I admit that I'm a comfy person, I enjoy my comforts, and while I do my best I'm aware that I'm a little lazy. To be fair, my Crohn's disease does drain a fair amount of energy, although it shouldn't be an excuse when you look at people like my brother, also has Crohn's, also ripped. But my boyfriend teases me relentlessly about "Facebooking". If he asks what I'm up to, and I tell him I'm reading the news, he says, "so...Facebook." It drives me mad. I do spend too much time on the Internet, but I really do follow about 20 different news sources through the app--I read more headlines than I do statuses/cute pet pictures from my friends. 

A couple of pages that I follow are things like "Only In Your State"--not exactly news, but often shares fun articles about life as an Arkansan or interesting destinations. There's one subject in particular that keeps popping up that has been making me crazy. It claims to share the most beautiful destinations in Arkansas without mentioning the Buffalo National River. There was another, too, that claimed to list the most beautiful place in each of the 50 states--of course, lots of readers contest what was ranked as #1 in their state, but listen here: Arkansas is the NATURAL state, guys. It is a state full of natural beauty. So in a list of the most beautiful places in each state, I would have thought that the Natural State would, you know, have listed a natural beauty. You know what they chose?

The damn Little Rock skyline as seen from the Clinton Presidential Center. 

Like...anything else would have sufficed for an answer. 

Now, not to ruffle the feathers of any architects but the picture shown is the black shadow of a couple of boring bridges in the most "okay" sunset photo ever taken. Granted, it is showing those bridges reflected in the still Arkansas River (which was the most "beautiful" part of the photograph), but it is clear the focus is of the skyline and buildings. It claims the Arkansas Convention & Visitors Bureau name this spot the prettiest, and I'd like to see the person responsible for such a claim impeached if that's a thing. 

Don't get me wrong. Little Rock has a lot of funk--it's definitely home to some of the biggest "skyscrapers" in Arkansas, has some scrumptious southern cookin', and many of my friends report it to be the biggest film scene in the state. But it's also the most industrial looking big-city in Arkansas, with the least amount of that Natural State beauty and it has a lot of not-in-a-good-way funk. Like, it was named the most dangerous small city in the U.S. last year kind of funk. According to one article, it states you have a 1 in 21 chance of being a victim of a crime as a citizen resident of Little Rock. 

There ain't nothin' beautiful about that, y'all. 

Therefore, I feel I have a responsibility--no, a duty--to reverse the damage that has been done in these false prophet articles and give up one of Arkansas's best kept secrets: the Buffalo. You know where you don't have a 1 in 21 chance of being a victim of a crime? America's first national river--and there was a reason someone felt compelled to dub it as such. 

I share this gem with you in confidence that you will leave it as unspoiled as you've found it.

It flows gently at over 150 miles in length (with a few rapids at its uppermost section) and passes bluffs, waterfalls, caves galore. The Ponca/Boxley area is home to the finest hikes in the Ozarks. 

The most strenuous, beautiful, intense, rewarding hike I've ever completed was a luscious creek off of the Buffalo and it is not for the faint of heart. If I am not making myself clear, this is a warning: you could die on this trail if you are not careful

While I'm sure the Indian Creek trail must be beautiful at any time of year, my thought is: if I'm exerting that much effort, I better go at the most prime time possible. In this case, it happens to be after a heavy rain in the spring. While the creek alone is a site to see for 4.7 miles (I got to know it very well as the easiest way to follow the trail much of the time means walking through the creek, so dress appropriately; while I'm sure there are better ways, my approach was Tevas, athletic tights, trekking poles, and lots of bug spray), after a good rainfall water will be flowing down all the bluffs along the way, creating a multitude of waterfalls of every size. The greens you'll see felt like something out of a tropical rain forest for this small-time Arkansan. 

We went on the perfect day. My only regret was not READING ahead enough.
If only I had stumbled upon the blogs and guides describing how to arrive at Indian Creek's most prized possession, the Eye of the Needle, beforehand... I wouldn't have missed it that day. Naturally, plans to return again were made shortly after the end of last season, and very, very soon the creek and I will meet again when the rain fall calls, for it is the only time of the year she can be found flowing. 

The tip: the two beautiful water falls appear to be the end of the trail, snuggled against a nearly-completely-vertical dirt wall you have to climb up (thanks to previous hikers who've left the ropes) that leads to an enormous cave. If you're looking at the opening of the cave, to its left  you can climb up to another hole, and if you follow out of said hole to the other side, there is an overgrown trail with high grass. 

I saw all of this, and I started to go up the trail leaving my boyfriend behind to rest at the bottom of the cave. But I came back. We assumed it must be the end and this was just someone's path to try to get to another view of the same site and we were entirely exhausted and not prepared to camp the night, needing to get back to Kyle's Landing before dark. Make sure you don't make this mistake.

Until I grant myself that redo in the next month or so, under just the right conditions, enjoy last year's journey...

To the right of where I'm standing is the hole out leading to the Eye of the Needle

Now, I don't know about you, but I'd rather see this:

Sorry, got condensation in my lens by this point...

Than this: 

Any day. Cheers!

UPDATE: Check out my Eye of the Needle post!

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