I did a little research and found Alex's picture perfect vacation in the Buffalo National River. Camping, canoeing, and hiking-we both loved it.
It was about a 10 hour drive and we left a lot later than we were planning to thanks to US Airways (see my last post for the story). We arrived in the Ozarks well past dark and stayed in a little inn our first night. Alex woke up early the next morning to grab us a campsite. I think he got us the best one! After we checked out of our room we set up the rest of our campsite and Alex showed me around. Our camp was right up next to the lower Buffalo River, and we had a gorgeous view of the river and bluff. We also had a trail right in our campsite that led us down to the beach by the river.
Over the next few days our big activities included:
- Hiking Hemmed-In-Hollow: We did this hike our first evening. It's 5 miles round trip with a 1200 ft elevation change. It's uphill on the way out, and I read it's better to do this part in the evening. We talked to a guy at the canoe rental place about how to get to the hike and he told Alex this was a very, very, very, very, very steep hike. We were like, psht, we're from Utah, we've got this. They said it would take 4 hours and we were overly confident we could shave some time off of that. Okay, they were completely right about this hike. It was steep, but it was steep with rock steps that were wet. So that made it difficult to shave off any extra time. Also, on the way down, we saw a lot of people coming back up soaking wet. I legitimately thought they had all played in the waterfall at the end or something. Not until I was the one soaking wet did I realize that it was just extremely humid, and that wetness was sweat. I have never sweat so much in my life... so disgusting. BUT the whole hike was worth it once we got to our destination. We were lucky the waterfall still existed into the summer. It was so beautiful!
- Canoeing the upper river: I had read the upper Buffalo River was the most picturesque place to canoe. I also read that by the time July hits they have to close off the upper part of the river because the water gets too low. Some years though, they have been able to float the upper river in July. We decided to risk it, and unfortunately missed it by three days. So we canoed the mid-upper river. It still ended up being a gorgeous float. We stopped at a beach that had a rope swing and happened upon a natural spring feeding into the river. We hiked up it a ways in the freezing cold water to the most picturesque scene. We dubbed it the misty river. It was quite magical.
- Hiking Whitaker Point: In doing research for Arkansas, I saw countless pictures of Whitaker Point and decided I had to go. We worried we might not be able to go due to the weather, but I'm so glad we got to. We woke up at 4:30 am to get there at the optimum viewing time. Even though we were later than we hoped, we still had an amazing view with plenty of fog thanks to some cloud coverage. The rain started just as we got there, but luckily it wasn't too heavy. I wish we could have stayed there forever. Also, if any of you have seen Tuck Everlasting, some of the opening scenes were filmed here.
- Floating the lower river: Since we camped right on the river, we spent an entire afternoon floating the river. There was another campground next to ours, just down the road a little. So we hiked our tubes to the edge of the neighboring campsite and then floated the river down to the beach under our campsite. It was quite convenient and was fun and relaxing.
Our vacation did get a little interesting each night though. The first night camping was super hot, but around 3:30 am it started raining. At 5:30 am I woke up to a huge lightning strike near us. I looked over at Alex and saw fear on his face. Apparently he had been awake for about 15 minutes during the thunderstorm and the lightning was all around us. I'm known for sleeping through thunderstorms and smoke detectors going off, so this storm was pretty bad to wake me up! I felt panicked because Alex was so scared-I've never seen him like that before. We said a couple of quick prayers and decided to make a run for the car. We slept there until the rain stopped. The rest of the day was perfect though!
Night two at dinnertime was a repeat of 5:30 am. Since all of our dinners were dutch oven, we needed somewhere dry to cook them. The radar showed thunderstorms all night, so we decided for safety reasons to stay at the inn we slept the first night. It had a covered outdoor area with a fire pit for us to cook dinner. As we were unpacking, the power went out... Luckily we were prepared with lots of light sources. And then, after we went to bed, the rain stopped for the rest of the night. Better safe than sorry, right?
Our last night we checked the radar and saw that there would be about 30 minutes of rain (no lightning thankfully) sometime in the evening. We decided to try to get our dinner cooked before the rain came... but no luck. Our food was nowhere near ready, so we grabbed our rain jackets and our camping tablecloth and held the tablecloth over the dutch oven in the rain. I wish we had a picture of us, I'm sure we looked completely ridiculous. BUT our food was nice and dry and done by the time the rain stopped.
It was a fun, rainy, hot, crazy vacation. We loved it.
And now for the pictures.
^ I loved, loved, loved our campsite. ^
^ Playing Kubb! ^
^ I got a sliver, and lost the game. ^
^ Hemmed-In-Hollow ^
^ Canoeing the Buffalo River ^
^ He melts my heart. ^
^ 6:00 a.m. in the Ozarks ^
^ Whitaker Point ^
^ Roark Bluff ^
^ Floating the Lower Buffalo ^
^ Selfies are hard in tubes. ^