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Archive for August, 2013

I drove down to George Mountain yesterday and took a biscuit and some orange juice. This is an Arkansas location with a colorful history but is also the state’s premier wilderness climbing area. Sam’s Throne sets of the main George mountain as an outlier; my guess is that the thone is about 300 feet tall but very hard to get to. George Mountain is 2000′ tall. There were plenty of Blue Gray Gnatcatchers, and Cedar Waxwings. The waxwings were feasting on the juniper berries along the cliffs. It was 58 degrees when I arrived with a light mountain top breeze; kind of cool for August.

No one knows for certain when¬†Arkansas rock climbing¬†began, but I like to think it was sometime in the 1820s when Sam Davis, in search of his sister who he claimed had been kidnapped by Indians, climbed on top on a sandstone outcrop and preached fiery sermons to the hardscrabble settlers who lived below. Besides spewing damnation, Davis claimed to have a hoard of gold stashed on the summit of his rock, and built a log blockade across the formation’s walk up to keep out would-be thieves. He also said he’d live for 1,000 years.

Far as anyone can tell, Davis isn’t around anymore, but his rock, now known as Sam’s Throne, still has a following. The Throne itself, a sandstone caprock up to half a rope high, has some 70 established lines. Given its long history, which may include the region’s first technical route 35 years ago, it’s considered a traditional bastion. Even today, the majority of routes are gear protected, and bolts are few and far between.

According to guidebook author Clay Frisbee, who has added about 200 routes to the area, “Guys from Louisiana put in the first bolt back in 1987. There was a consensus then that the bolt was good on that route, but there was fear that the Tulsa boys would show up and retrobolt the classics.”

The grid-bolting of Sam’s Throne never materialized. Instead, new-wave climbers focused on the multitude of nearby crags, like Cave Creek, where old- and new-school climbers co-exist in relative harmony. Within a hundred yards of cliffline you might find 20 trad and 20 sport routes, and most will be in the moderate range.

With stone enough to go around, and of a quality that the climbing illustrator Jeremy Collins says is “as good as Red Rocks and steeper, just not as long,” the Sam’s Throne region remains Arkansas’ most popular destination, and new lines go up virtually every weekend, adding to the current 500-plus route tally.

One this for sure, it is a beautiful place where weathered sandstone layers and colorful lichens are numerous !!! The clip of a Topo map at the bottom of the photos has Sam’s Throne (an outlier) circled in Red.

 

George Mountian looking SW, the throne just in view to the right.

George Mountian looking SW, the throne just in view to the right.

Georges Mountain looking SE; sun rising.

Georges Mountain looking SE; sun rising.

Looking NE; the Big Creek Valley

Looking NE; the Big Creek Valley

weathered sandstone with lichens

weathered sandstone with lichens

 

Nice location for breakfast

Nice location for breakfast

 

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View East from Base of Round Mountain

View East from Base of Round Mountain

Just a photo of the sun Rising:

 

 

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I drove south today, at dawn, on Parker Ridge Road (nothing but forest, hills, and ravines the whole way). Beautiful. I was sure i’d see another bear, but did not. Saw two Cinnamon Black Bears together, out of Limestone yesterday. This is a must do side trip for anyone. Coming off of Parker Ridge is beautiful as it drops through the switchbacks to the Piney Creek; I’d say 2 miles of sharp switchbacks; finally down; you make the last drop to the Piney Creek. Did see 2 roadrunners today. Thats is 6 roadrunners this week. I came back on back on the river roads to Pelsor, Included a crossing of the river (no bridge) at it’s junction with Hurricane Creek, then back up Highway 7 to home. What a cool, sunny, but pleasant morning out. Notice, some species of trees are starting to turn yellow along the rivers and the Goldenrod is just now coming into blossom.

 

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switchbacks on Parker Ridge Road

switchbacks on Parker Ridge Road

 

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I went back to one of the locations where the Redheaded Woodpeckers were nesting last April and May; they are still there ! I saw one adult and one juvenile. The juveniles still have grey heads; but this one was molting fast to crimson red:

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I got up at 5 AM and drove over to Steel Creek. I made a short walk to the gravel bar on the old Klenner Hole and waited for the sun to come up. The thermometer in my care read 57F and the fog was very dense. It was a 2 hour wait for the sun the begin to break through the fog. The full moon still shown brightly and cast a blue hue on the countryside.

Photos from the morning follow:

 

old Kelenner hole on the Buffalo River

old Kelenner hole on the Buffalo River

Looking downstream towards Roark Bluff

Looking downstream towards Roark Bluff

Fog still lays in the Buffalo Valley and against Kilgore Mountain at 9 SAM

Fog still lays in the Buffalo Valley and against Kilgore Mountain at 9 SAM

Sunbeam at the hill coming out of Steel Creek

Sunbeam at the hill coming out of Steel Creek

 

 

 

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This morning was foggy and cool again (57 degrees) and the serenity of the Buffalo River was indescribable:

 

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Canoes line all streets, not the just Highway 7 in Jasper:

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