Pack & Paddle

4 09, 2019

High Pointing Part Seven – The Odds and Ends

By |2019-09-04T15:33:38-05:00September 4th, 2019|Categories: Fall 2019, Pack & Paddle|Tags: |

This is the seventh in a series of my adventures to visit as many of the fifty US states' highest points as I can. Last time we took look at two trips to visit the southern Appalachians in 2010 and 2013. You may have noticed that most of the stories have revolved around a specific trip to visit many sites in one big trip or take advantage of the fact that I'm in the vicinity of a high point. This time we will take a look at those high points I detoured to see because I was doing something else and it was nearby. The states covered in this episode are Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana and Ohio. Arizona If you've ever traveled out I-40 west towards Flagstaff, about fifty miles out you begin to see a lone peak growing bigger as you make your way west. This is the highest point in Arizona, Humphreys Peak, 12,633 feet above sea-level. In September 2004 I was part of an Arkansas group that was headed to Havasupai.  We had a second bunch on our permit from Tennessee and had to wait a day for them to fly to Las Vegas. To use our [...]

4 09, 2019

The Myth of the Thong Tree

By |2019-09-04T15:33:09-05:00September 4th, 2019|Categories: Fall 2019, Pack & Paddle|Tags: |

Informal outdoor lore in the Ozarks often includes references to something called a thong tree.  These are trees that have been bent over and forced  to grow upright from the far end of the pushed-over stem.   Lore has it that these are deliberate signs created by native American and early explorers intended to point the way towards some objective such as campsite or mountain trail.  There are a number of reasons to suspect this kind of story.  There are no documented references to thong trees in the journals produced by early visitors to our area like Schoolcraft and Nuttall.  Moreover, there are so many examples of such bent over trees that it is hard to believe that the sparse distribution of early settlers would need to mark so many trails.  The single known reference to trees trimmed by explorers to mark the way comes from French traders in northern Canada where waterways were disorganized into a complex maze by past glacier activity and the landscape is covered by a monotonous spruce forest.  Branches would be pruned on spruce trees located on prominent points of land adjacent to portages or river tributaries as a way of marking these locations.  Because [...]

4 09, 2019

Ozark Society News and Happenings

By |2019-09-04T15:32:26-05:00September 4th, 2019|Categories: Fall 2019, Pack & Paddle|Tags: |

C&H Buy Out – On June 13, 2019 Governor Hutchinson announced the “agreement” to close the C&H Hog Farm.  The buy-out money, 5.2 million from the Arkansas Department of Heritage and 1 million from Arkansas Nature Conservancy, is in escrow.   But more than two months later the 180-day close down has not started yet because of an issue over potential liens.  Still we are assured that the deal will stick.  Basically, the 9-page agreement establishes a conservation easement to the State of Arkansas which permanently prohibits CAFO operations on the property but does allow most other types of farming or even a housing development.  The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (now DEQ under the recent governmental reorganization) has the responsibility for directing facility remediation and continuing monitoring. Permanent Moratorium on Swine CAFO’s – The current moratorium on medium and large swine CAFO’s in the Buffalo River watershed is due to expire in 2020.  But it makes no sense to spend 6.2 million dollars to preserve “the historical, cultural, and recreational significance of the Buffalo National River” without making the moratorium permanent.  DEQ made that recommendation at the July 26 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology and received [...]

3 06, 2019

High Pointing Part Six – The Southern Appalachians

By |2019-07-23T14:15:15-05:00June 3rd, 2019|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2019|

Welcome to the sixth in a series of my adventures to visit as many of the fifty US states' highest points as I can. Last time we took a look at a trip of my tour of the Midwest following the Eclipse of August 21, 2017.  This time its the southern Appalachians of the Southeast: North and South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. On the first trip, my wife, Meribeth, and I went up I-40 to Ashville, North Carolina in October of 2010 to see Biltmore and the sights of the Smokies. The second was done in May of 2013 following the graduation of our nephew from Virginia Tech. South Carolina We used the town of Ashville, N.C. as our base to see the area. One day we went south of Ashville to visit the home and farm of Carl Sandburg, near Flat Rock, N.C., a stop we highly recommend. Before that however, we went just across the state line into South Carolina to see Sassafras Mt, 3560 feet, the highest point in the state. At the time we visited in 2010, the access was a rough forest road to the radio towers on its summit. You parked your car about [...]

3 06, 2019

What Will Global Warming Look Like in the Ozarks?

By |2019-07-23T14:16:39-05:00June 3rd, 2019|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2019|

Global change will affect the Buffalo River and the surrounding ecosystem along with the rest of the world, but do we have to worry about that in our lifetime? The experts are quoting a temperature increase of a few degrees. How big a deal could that be? After all, we see daily temperature changes of several tens of degrees. Maybe we would hardly notice a degree or two difference. Can we even expect to recognize that difference against the background of daily fluctuations? On the other hand, we know that greenhouse gasses have a major effect on how the planet absorbs heat, and that there has been a 40% increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That sounds like a big change. Are we going to see a real impact on the Buffalo River in the coming decade? Let’s start with a couple of firmly established facts. First, it is obvious that the globe heats mostly at the equator and that the heat then moves down the temperature gradient towards the poles. That heat transfer occurs by turbulent mixing - a fancy way of saying that heat exchange occurs in the form of exchanging parcels of warm and cold air. [...]

3 06, 2019

Ozark Forest Forensics by Frederick Paillet and Steven Stephenson

By |2019-08-12T11:01:07-05:00June 3rd, 2019|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2019|

The Ozark Society Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of Ozark Forest Forensics: The Science Behind the Scenery in Our Regional Forests by Fred Paillet and Steven Stephenson. This book interprets our natural surroundings in a way that enhances a simple walk in the scenic deciduous woodlands of the Ozark Mountain region. Explanations go beyond trees and their habitat to include other diverse subjects: the leaf litter beneath a hiker’s feet, strategies used by wildflowers for pollination and seed dispersal, diseases that can ravage our forests, and forces active in the landscape that impact conservation efforts. Simplified line drawings demonstrate specific points of interest in a way that visually cluttered photographs cannot do. Includes: 163 line drawings, a list of species used in the text, a glossary, and a reading list. Paperback; 342 pages; ISBN: 978-0-912456-28-7. $24.95 FRED PAILLET is adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas, where he conducts research and supervises student projects related to geophysics, hydrology and paleoecology. He earned his PhD from the University of Rochester in New York. STEVE STEPHENSON is a research professor at the University of Arkansas, where he teaches courses in plant biology, forest ecology and plant ecology. Stephenson earned his [...]

3 06, 2019

The Ozark Studies Association

By |2019-07-23T14:18:25-05:00June 3rd, 2019|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Summer 2019|

The nascent Ozark Studies Association held its first conference at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale, AR, on May 17, 2019. The theme for the daylong conference was “Histories of the Buffalo National River.” Presenters covered Buffalo River and Ozarks region topics pertaining to geology and early cultures, the Civil War, historic cemeteries, the New Deal and dam-building in the Ozarks, the painter Thomas Hart Benton, small farms in the Buffalo watershed, cultural resource threats in the Buffalo National River, and controlling the fate of rivers in the Ozarks. Ozark Society President David Peterson gave a talk that included an overview of the formation of the Society and a description of several of the major environmental issues that OS has been involved in during its existence, including the current hog farm debate. Other presenters were Dr. Rebecca Howard, Lone Star College; Abby Burnett, independent historian; Dr. Black Perkins, Williams Baptist University; Steve Sitton, Thomas Hart Benton Home State Historic Park; Dr. Jared Phillips, University of Arkansas; Dr. Caven Clark, independent contractor (retired from Buffalo National River, National Park Service); and Dr. Brooks Blevins, Missouri State University. The Ozark Society Highlands Chapter pitched in to provide lunch for the [...]

6 03, 2019

Orphea’s Fence

By |2019-06-03T12:08:36-05:00March 6th, 2019|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2019|

by Ken Smith via Luke Parsch, Ozark Society Vice President In 1959 when driving along the upper Buffalo River at Boxley, I spied an unusual fence—horizontal boards, but also, between its posts, cross-boards making distinctive “Xs”. And with artistic flair, the fence turned a right angle past a big, spreading tree. From roadside, I made a photograph. Years later, I met the person who must have designed that fence--Orphea Duty, the landowner. “Orphey,” as friends called her, knew her place in this world. Her father, Ben McFerrin--teacher, advocate for public schools, state legislator, lieutenant governor--had acquired this land with its two-story house facing Highway 43. And Orphea inherited the property. After her husband, Fred Duty, had died she remained there--Boxley’s postmistress, community leader, pillar of its Baptist church. Orphea had a definite sense of style. Only she could have designed that pretty fence at rural Boxley. Orphey and Fred were married on horseback; a photograph shows her in a nice riding habit. Her dress for social occasions was always tasteful, at times elegant. And anyone visiting her home for a meal, or even for coffee, found her table already set with china, crystal, and silver. Orphea Duty had enjoyed opportunities [...]

6 03, 2019

High-Pointing the States: Part Five – The Midwest Loop

By |2019-06-03T12:08:42-05:00March 6th, 2019|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2019|

Here is the fifth in a series of my adventures to visit as many of the fifty US states' highest points as I can. Last time we took a look at a trip from October of 2014 to the southeast corner of the US: Florida, Alabama and Georgia. This time I will tell you of my tour of the Midwest following the Eclipse of August 21, 2017. My wife, Meribeth, and I went up to my Aunt's home in Sutton, Nebraska for the big eclipse. Her town was dead center on the path of totality. Nice! Following the event, we made our way towards the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. Along the way, one of our first stops was the highest point in Iowa. After the fair, Meribeth would fly home and I would continue bagging high points in the Midwest. Iowa Iowa's high point, Hawkeye Point, is outside the town of Sibley. This is one of those easy ones: drive up, get out, take the photo. There is a patio and mosaic marker at the high point and it is surrounded by cornfields and a farmstead. Even at 1670 feet, it’s got a great view of the rolling [...]

6 03, 2019

Chert – One of the Most Common Ozark Minerals

By |2019-06-03T12:08:48-05:00March 6th, 2019|Categories: Pack & Paddle, Spring 2019|

As an outdoor enthusiast relocated to northwest Arkansas more than a decade ago, the observation of abundant chert was one of my very first Ozark impressions.  And it was not necessarily pleasant.  The chert attracted my attention in the form of baseball-sized angular rocks hidden in the deep leaf litter of Ozark National Forest hiking trails.  These potentially ankle-twisting nuisances came as a real surprise and forced me to pay far too much attention to my footing when I would rather have been enjoying pleasant fall scenery.  Almost at the same time I began to notice sections of trail constructed into the sides of hills that seemed to have been deliberately paved with gray gravel composed of similar angular rock fragments.  By now all of this is a familiar part of my local hiking experiences.  But what exactly is chert, and where did all the chert in the Ozarks come from?Chert is a glass-like form of rock composed of tiny quartz (silicon oxide) crystals verging on a true glass where molten rock cooled so quickly as to be left with no crystal structure at all.  Trace minerals mixed in with the silica give the various forms of chert their color.  Common [...]