Sunday, July 27, 2014

Adventures at Longpool

Adventure is never far away in Arkansas, with so many places to get outside and enjoy nature. Adventure hasn't failed to find my family during our now annual trip to Longpool Recreation Area near Dover, Ark. I wrote last year about one of my most interesting Geocaching experiences (see Ghosts of Spanish Conquistadors). On our first night camping at Longpool, we attempted a night-cache located nearby. We didn't find the cache due to a crowd of people, but we did find ourselves semi-lost in the dark (if only because we were trying not to be seen).

This year my sister didn't come with us and we planned on attempting it again. After we set up camp we decided to go swimming while it was still daylight. Rather than swim much, we walked in the water upstream to some rapids. As we came closer to the rapids, we saw a trail (or a dry creek bed) and had a pretty good idea it would lead us inland to the waterfall. If it didn't we would just turn around and go back the way we came. Sure enough, it wasn't long before we came out and intersected with the main trail at the waterfall. It was our first "hike" barefoot through the woods and around the rocks. It was interesting to think about all the indigenous people who might have lived this way in the past.


As the light began to fade, we decided we had better get back to the water before it got too dark. We hiked down from the waterfall and began to follow the creek bed until arriving at a tree and brush in the way. "I don't think this is the way we came," I told my niece and nephew. "I don't remember crawling through all of this."

My nephew said it was the wrong trail and he saw the trail further back. So we followed him down the alternate path as the light continued getting dimmer and dimmer. Eventually the trail closed in around us and we found walking barefoot through the weeds. It wasn't long before there was no trail at all and no clear way to the water. I don't want to go running through a lot of weeds and brush with the number of snakes I have seen this year; I have no desire to be bitten. We turn around and try to find our way back to where we started from, at least we could hike out using the main trail if we had to. By this time, it had become difficult to see; of course we had arrived by water rather than land. So we end up deeper into the woods. Panic is beginning to set in. "I really don't want to spend the night out here in the dark with no shelter and no good way to start a fire."

We continued walking, searching frantically for any sign of a trail to the water or back to the waterfall. By this point we were running through the woods, stepping on thorns with our bare feet.  My niece began complaining that she could not see me; I was less than ten feet in front of her. I squatted down and said a prayer. Before long we came to another deer trail and I told my niece and nephew to stay where they were and make noise. I would go ahead on the trail to see if it went anywhere and if not, would follow their voices back to prevent us from getting separated. It was a major relieve when I came to the edge of the creek and called my niece and nephew down.

It seemed that not only was camping at Longpool becoming an annual trip, but becoming lost in the woods on the first night was too.

Back at camp, we decided we had enough adventure for one night. Rather than going geocaching we just prepared for bed. After placing our non-refrigerated items in the car we took our showers and went to bed. It wasn't ten minutes before the commotion started outside our tents. I think I slept a total of two hours Friday night with all of the raccoons rummaging through the metal garbage cans, meant to keep wildlife out. Of course, the most annoying part was listening to them in our campsite.

About two hours after going to bed, I rolled over and said to my nephew, "I don't think we are going to have breakfast in the morning." He asked me why not. "I think the coons are eating it all." We got up and went outside to see what damage had been done; sure enough we had been robbed. The animals (I won't say it was all racoons) had taken our ham, hot dogs, mayonnaise and bacon. Of course, it wasn't until Saturday evening I found they had also tried to eat my can of bug spray.

On Friday and Saturday evenings we enjoyed watching the wildlife (although were slightly annoyed with the noise they were making and the fact they robbed us). Animals we saw:

  • Mouse
  • Raccoon
  • Skunk
  • Cat
  • Deer

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