There is a huge outdoors — forest, creeks, critters and history — beyond the swimming hole and the dining hall. The purpose of this page is to showcase some of that outdoors and entice you to explore it.
Contents of Outdoors
Headwaters of Jones Creek – Déjà Vu
Randy Braswell & Bob Geatches, Spring 2022
Forty-six years ago, in the spring of 1976, two of my older brothers, Bob Geatches and Larry Braswell, and I hiked to the back of the Valley to source the Jones Creek Spring.
Once we found it, we placed a tin pie plate marker there. Recently Bob suggested we get together and make the journey one more time and mark the spot with a better sign that he’d had made that included the coordinates Latitude 34* 23′ 44″N, Longitude 93* 32′ 26″W and Elevation 1,015′. The current topo map refers to it as Gap Creek, but we preferred the Family name for the sign.
The day began with Larry dropping us off near the Day Cabin to start our hike, initially following the old logging road that’s somewhat visible for maybe ¾ mile. As that fades into the forest, a pig trail emerges – yes, a real pig trail! It went under low branches and over logs where their bellies had rubbed them smooth, clearly marking our way forward. The forest floor was torn up considerably from their rooting around for food all over the flats. We passed two depressions in the ground full of spring water that may have been dug to serve as watering holes for a previous farm – who knows for sure???
Soon the valley floor began to narrow quite a bit, and we walked through a beautiful green holly grove that stood out in contrast to the winter landscape. Then we discovered a fresh kill, a large boar with the scary-looking front teeth that raises the hair on your arm, and bright red blood on the ground. Nearby was a large pile of guts, we could see they weren’t his, as he was still intact. Another kill? We continued on the pig trail, eyes wide open, until we reached what we determined was our spot to claim as Jones Creek Spring’s source. We posted our sign and celebrated with a few pictures, all the while still wondering about what we had come upon.
With the sun dipping lower in the sky, we determined needed to move quickly to make it out before sundown. Our old damaged knees slowed us both down, as this area was somewhat difficult to traverse. As we passed through the holly groves again, we heard a shout out. Two hunters, both with rifles and packs, were making their way down from the south mountainside and asked us if we’d seen their hog. Well, now we knew.
Seems they’d been out in the woods till 2am and the darkness had left them unsure of where the hogs were. We were able to lead them to their kill and they told us they hunt the Caney Creek valley that’s north of our Strawn Mountain which usually has more hog activity. The previous night, their dogs had pinned down a sow with six piglets in an undercut of the creek. She was shot, but the boar showed up and nearly killed their dogs. When it started toward them, they shot him with only a ten foot distance between them. Wow! Now these were truly two country boys! Bob and I later thought of “Deliverance,” the Burt Reynolds movie. They began removing the boar’s head for a mount and told us they’d put the sow in the creek to keep it fresh (every night has been below freezing).
Moving on, we heard Larry giving us his best “valley yell” as we approached the Day Cabin area. Cell service ends not far past this area, so the yell is the only way to communicate long distance. Lol. That day hike put seven miles on our boots and our knees were not at all happy about it.
The next day we set another Cache (Lat. 34* 35′ 47″ W, Longitude 93* 35′ 47 W) El. 700′ at the top of Coyote Ridge. It can be found by taking the trail to the left or north, about 50 yards before the 1st creek crossing. I’ll leave a topo map with these places marked in the Dining Hall.
Maybe others will want to mark their own special places in the Valley on the map as well. As a final note for others who do spend time in the outdoors, even our peaceful Valley has its dangers. Not only the copperheads, rattlesnakes and bears, but these big boars can be trouble. This past year in our Hot Springs Village, bears, cougars and bobcats have been spotted. Safe travels; see ya soon.
Eagle Rock Loop Adventure –
Tammy, and son Caleb, Clemmons
// For those not familiar, this trail offers the longest loop trail in Arkansas. A combination of the Little Missouri, the Athens-Big Fork and part of the Viles Branch Horse Trails, the Eagle Rock Loop takes the hiker through the southwestern portion of the Ouachita National Forest. Trail difficulty ranges from easy to most difficult. //
Tammy Clemmons 12/27/2021??? Logging this for memories. Caleb and I set out to do the Eagle Rock Loop which is 27 miles up and down rocky trails with LOTS of river and creek crossings.
Day 1: I tripped on my own shoelaces going into Walmart
(should have known then). We parked and started the trail at 1 pm. After completing the hardest mountain first, we came down to a few easy creek crossings and made it to a nice campsite on Viles Branch. We filled our water bottles, set up camp with Caleb in a hammock and me in a tent. Because the wood was wet, we could only build a small fire. After making our camp meals, we ate and were in our beds by 7:30!
Day 2: We awoke to thunder and sprinkles,
then pouring rain. For a while we stayed dry in our tent and hammock, but then finally packed up our personal gear but didn’t get to pack up camp and leave til 11:30. It rained on us for about an hour more. There were lots of creek and river crossings. I fell on the trail twice and felt like an upside down turtle, then fell in the river. My hair was soaked as if I had jumped in on purpose and my waterproof hiking boots were no longer water proof! We sloshed away up and down very rocky trails and several more river crossings.
Finally, we had to call it short
because the creeks and rivers were still rising and the knee deep crossings weren’t going to be knee deep much longer. Plus, all of our gear was soaked. We’d made it more than halfway and made plans to return to finish, but returned to spend the night in a nice dry motel room with new clothes from the Dollar Store.
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