Thirty-nine TrailBlazers, including several newcomers, made the scenic drive to Mt. Nebo to hike the Rim Trail on a sunny, very warm day. It was the warmest ever; it is usually a little cool and breezy at the start of this hike, and many wore gloves last year! Linda stepped in as hike leader since our very own Nebo Dude had other fish to fry. At the Visitors Center we were pleased with the welcome addition of new restrooms for both men and women.

This “easy” hike seemed to have more rocks and steps than on other occasions, which suggests that some of us are either having senior memory problems or some hobgoblins have dumped additional rocks on the trail to make us look bad. Surely memory is not failing us? It does seem that we had to spend quality time watching our feet, dodging rocks, and pussyfooting down steep steps. At one point it appeared that we were on the wrong trail and we consulted a map, but we weren’t actually lost. Sometimes we do things like this on purpose just to give the impression to newcomers that we are humble with the typical human frailties of lesser mortals – like anybody is going to believe that! In any case, we improvised our way, passed Nebo Dude’s house on the road, and then continued on to Sunrise Point and picked up the trail without incident.

Our trekking was definitely leisurely, but it was actually hot at the end and it did give people the chance to chat without gasping for air with each step. There were only faint hints of fall color. We did see some Beauty Berry, but not in the profusion we are accustomed to. We were pleased to have beautiful panoramic views from the trail since there were some thick patches of fog on the road en route. For several hikers, both new and old, this was their first time on Mt. Nebo. Great day, great company!

Fifteen TrailBlazers and one canine, a small but dedicated group under Becky’s lead, headed once again to Mt. Magazine wondering what the weather would be like on the top of Arkansas! It was cloudy driving up from Paris, but conditions were much better than in October because we were not enveloped in a pea soup fog; it was just cloudy and hazy. It was a little windy as we set out, but once we started hiking on Will Apple’s Road, it died down. We checked out the remains of Buckman’s Pool and then passed through the horse camp en route to Bear Hollow Trail. 

Colors were subdued due to the haze and lack of sun, but we still had a decent view from Inspiration Point and from Sunrise Rock, one of our traditional lunch sites. Next we headed up to Benefield Picnic Area to pick up the Mossback Ridge Trail back to the Visitors Center. 

Twenty-nine TrailBlazers (but 2 bailed before the hike) headed up to Mt Magazine to see the beautiful fall color, but life threw us a curve. Bad forecast – it turned out to be foggy, gray and chilly on the mountain bathed in a low-hanging cloud. Once the sun acted like it was going to peek through, but it ended up rolling over and going back to sleep. In a momentary flash of genius Yours Truly made the executive decision to take the group pic in an indoor fog-free setting.

From the Visitors Center Katie, our Trail Boss of the Day, started us out on the Will Apple Trail down to the horse camp where we crossed the road to pick up Bear Hollow. The bad news is that the scenic views and fall color were shrouded in gun-metal gray, but the good news is that we were not subjected to the really bad conditions experienced at Queen Wilhelmina last fall! Camera buffs were disappointed with the lack of great photo ops, but the hiking conditions weren’t bad and we had a fun group. Inspiration Point needed a great imagination, and the view from Sunrise Rock was not what we are accustomed to, but it’s still a great place to eat. Afterwards we hoofed up the trail as the cloud we were enveloped in got thicker and grayer. Next we reached the East Loop of the Benefield to hike the rim trail where we saw such spectacular color last year. Unfortunately, it was pretty much a gray-out. We ended the hike at the parking lot where we had shuttled cars. By now the pea soup fog was such that Bonanza Bob and Judy got lost in the cloud when they came back to pick us up. Katie was ready for search and rescue, but they finally found their way. At the end the Mt Mag Action Group served goodies at the Visitors Center and had a silent auction! Thank you! As luck would have it, the cloud disappeared and fall color resurfaced as we came down the mountain.

Twenty-nine TrailBlazers headed for Mt. Magazine State Park on a cold, cloudy day that did not quite match up to the overly optimistic prognostications of our crack forecasters. Nevertheless, things really started looking up as we drove up the mountain and saw beautiful fall color everywhere, even if the leaves were not illuminated by sunshine. The Visitors Center was shrouded in fog, but it was nice and warm inside as we waited for the cars to be shuttled. 

With Captain Katie leading the charge we bucked some stiff wind as we headed out from the Visitors Center to trek down the Will Apple Trail. After crossing the horse camp to reach the Bear Hollow Trail, we saw less fog and many hues of orange, red and gold along the trail as well as a panoramic view of the fall-decked valley from the overlook. There were a couple of rare breaks in the clouds that momentarily bathed the colorful trees with sunlight. We had lunch at a favorite overlook where we managed to shelter against the wind as we ate and enjoyed the view. 

Saving the best for last, we again crossed the road to pick up the East Loop of the Benefield Trail where there was a spectacular panoramic view of trees in fall dress, ponds and lakes, and a beautiful bluff line. We trekked carefully along the edge of this high rim trail where our eyes were treated to one sensational view after another. We have hiked this area many times, but it must have been before autumn color, after leaf fall, or in spring because we could not recall ever seeing it quite like this. Of course, the sun came out and the skies brightened as we drove down the mountain and headed home. Beautiful day!

Around 33 bundled-up, adventuresome Moony Loonies gathered at the River Valley Nature Center in Fort Smith under a full moon to see if they could see or hear anything that goes bump in the night. Nobody is saying anything, so whatever happened on the trail stays on the trail! It has been a while since the club participated in Moonlight Madness, so it was about time for another nocturnal excursion. To add to the fun there was still some snow around providing an opportunity to make snow balls and snow angels. Thank goodness some of us never grow up! 

Yours Truly hopes to see y’all up at Lake Fort Smith for tomorrow’s hike.

Twenty-four TrailBlazers and one canine celebrated St. Paddy’s Day by heading up the Pig Trail with Wilson in search of adventure at the Marinoni Scenic Area. Along the way we were treated to redbuds in hues from pink to purple, fluffy white “popcorn” flowers on serviceberries, and sunny yellow forsythia. The hike was originally supposed to have been a longer one, but all is well that ends well because it turned out to be a sunny, hot, and humid day without the thunderstorms predicted by our drama queen forecasters! 

Near the trailhead we crossed the creek fairly easily by rock hopping, and then started trekking our way up several ascents until we came to the boulder field and hiked up through some crevices to continue hiking along a high ridge. We saw violets along the way as well as toothwort, fiddlehead ferns, and a little phlox. Eventually we crossed a road and then started meandering downward into the wide canyon of the Marinoni Scenic Area. The creek had some little waterfalls before we came to the cascade of falls from the ridge above. As we hugged the rocky wall next to the trail we came to the high falls and continued on downward to the creek that we crossed to reach our traditional lunch spot. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch before heading back. At the end we chucked our boots and cooled our hot tootsies in the refreshing water of the creek. 

This is a very beautiful area, a favorite of many of us, that is great to explore, enjoy, and photograph and that is exactly what we did!

Sixteen TrailBlazers and 2 canines headed up the Pig Trail on a gray, cool morning to explore the Marinoni Scenic area under the leadership of three Valleys. At Turner Bend several people bought sandwiches, and the store gave a free baggie of meat to Judy and Dick for Zach. Yours Truly briefly considered entertaining the owners with a couple of cute arf-arfs and a winsome smile to see if she could do some mooching of her own! 

At the trailhead some backpackers were still in their sleeping bags and surely enjoyed hearing a bunch of rowdies getting organized and taking the group pic. The first leg was all up hill with Judith leading the charge, so it didn’t take long for our trekkers to start shedding their layers. Tiny little wildflowers were trying to bloom, but it is still early. After a while we came to that neat passage through a boulder field and enjoyed the rocky view from the top. After a while Ed took over leadership duties, but he soon had to play second banana to Tina who was in HER “element” – a little pun! 

There was some water in the creek, and we saw several falls with just a little water, but we were pleased to see any at all considering the lack of rain. In the canyon there were several massive bluffs and interesting rock formations. We ate lunch along the creek where we met up with three not-so-friendly men on horseback. Horses are not allowed on this trail. They had several unleashed dogs running helter-skelter and made no attempt to call them back even though we were a large group with 2 dogs of our own. We also found two friendly dogs on the trail that were either dumped or lost. One had a collar with a phone number so hopefully the owner will fetch him when contacted. 

We had an enjoyable hike with plenty of time to look around this beautiful area.