July 22, 2016
Since it’s late July and the waterfall season is winding down, Pops wanted to go somewhere there was a constant supply of water to cool off from the horrible Arkansas summer heat. Today we chose to explore the Woolum Ford Campground area on the Buffalo River. We took Highway 65N from Conway towards Harrison. Once we reached St. Joe we took a left on 374 which eventually turned into a dirt road and became Searcy County Road 14. If y’all have been keeping up with my blogs, you have heard me complain about Searcy County roads….they’re terrible. Once we reached the river, the road continued across the water and turned into the Ozark Highland Trail. We opted to park before the river crossing. (I would recommend for everyone to park here unless you are in a big truck, Jeep or ATV.) After wading across the river we continued on the OHT for about a mile until we came to The Nars on our right. We climbed up the rock face and emerged at the beginning of the spine of The Nars. Dad thought he would be brave enough to cross but once we saw how uneven and narrow the crossing was, we both decided we valued our life and took a seat. After taking in the amazing views for awhile we headed down to the OHT and continued back towards the river.
I had been wanting to see Skull Bluff and we knew it was 1/2 mile downstream towards the vehicle. After walking the OHT for a few minutes we came to a trail that headed up and towards the water. We figured this had to be our way to Skull Bluff. The trail took us up, up, up over the Bluff and then down, down, down. — I used repetition here to accentuate how strenuous the up and down was. On the other side of the bluff the trail descended into the water and from here we crossed it to a gravel bed and headed upstream. This put us across the Buffalo from the amazing cave formation.
From here we thought we could walk the other 1/2 mile back to the vehicle via the river bed. We stayed on the gravel bar as far as it would take us….400 yards shy of where we needed to be. *face palm* We could’ve swam the river downstream but camera gear and water do not mix. And it looked grossly still and a tad snakey. We turned around and looked for trails to the side of the water. Voila. Just like that, we found one. After trudging and bushwhacking through what looked like a snake infested, overgrown field for about 50 feet I refused to go further. This meant turning around and getting back to the OHT the way we came. Up, up, up over Skull Bluff and back down, down, down. Once across the cave system we found the blue marking tape in the trees and made our way downhill to the easy-peasy, flat OHT/CR14 and followed it the long way around to the first river crossing. What should’ve been a 2 mile hike in the 100 degree heat turned into over a 4 mile sweltering trek. Good thing the river was never too far away to cool us down.