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Posts Tagged ‘valley’

Looking up the Buffalo River Valley on New Years Eve, I could see the remnants of the heavy morning fog, stuck to all the trees as ice:

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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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This crazy pair of wrens sing and work all day; except, they do take lots lof time out to scold me every day:

 

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An ongoing series on the Mating of a pair of Red-headed woodpeckers near Parthenon, Arkansas:

 

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A continuing series on a pair of red headed woodpeckers on the north side of the Little Buffalo River in Murray Valley near Parthenon, AR.:

 

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We got about an inch of snow in Murray Valley last night; more in the high country and along the mountain ridges. I am expecting heavy rains and thunderstorms over this coming weekend. I believe this storm will be large enough and slow moving enough to bring the rivers and creeks up. That is good news long term, but not so good news for hikers and canoeists planning this weekend.

It seems the warbler migration has gone on hold for now; so I am concentrating on woodpeckers again. They are nesting now,  as are the chickadees and Carolina wrens. The bluebird situation is disturbing for now. It seems, for the first time, I have a large influx of English sparrows (House sparrows) that are taking over every bluebird house; and because the weather is cold, the bluebirds have stopped nesting and are not defending their houses.

Here is a photo of a Red-headed woodpecker from here in the Murray Valley; they are such showy birds. I’m glad we have a few:

Red headed woodpecker

Red headed woodpecker

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First off: so far, we’ve gotten 1.5 inches of rain with more is on the way today (Sunday). That is fantastic !! We should have waterfalls this week.

I saw two Pileated Woodpeckers tearing apart a big log Friday, looking to ants and termites, and had my camera, so I got a few photos. They were so busy, I did not disturb them by watching from about 100 feet. The male and female both have large red tufts, the male has a red stripe on his cheek. The female has a brown forehead and a white stripped cheek. These are really large woodpeckers (crow sized) at least and very vocal at times; I have included 3 female photos and 2 male photos in the Friday group:

 

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