Monday, July 21, 2014

Looking for Heights

On the Buffalo River Trail

While camping in the Ozarks last month, I took advantage of a couple of sunny hours to hike through Boxley Canyon in Lost Valley. Is Lost Valley really lost? Well, if we had blinked, we'd have driven right past it, but was worth the stop. Lost Valley is a small area of farms tucked between hillsides off the beaten trail. The land owners, some who have been there for generations, have banded together and agreed to set the whole land mass aside, free from development, so everyone can see what the area looked like when it was first settled. Settlers cabins and remains of homesteads are there for the curious to explore.

Boxley Canyon Trail in Lost Valley is a path that winds around boulders, caves and waterfalls to a high point called Eagle Falls that emerge from a cliff top cave. Huge boulders are strewn about everywhere, piled at odd angles by gravity and the force of rushing water. Stone steps set in place to cross the steep terrain, reminded me of Rivendell of the Tolkien movies. I half expected to see Gandalf or the Lady of the Wood appear from around a bend!

Hungering still to experience more heights that I so miss living in Florida, we headed to the Buffalo River for a second hike that afternoon. I'll admit I had an ulterior motive for dragging my walk-weary husband on yet another climb. I was looking for a good access point to paint the famed bluffs above the Buffalo River.

The trail climbed high above the river. We had barely started the four mile hike when the rain that was such a constant factor throughout the trip, began again. At first, the thick overhead canopy kept most of the rain off of us, but within an hour, even this dense rooftop couldn't keep the water out.
Rain and all, I thought it was magical walk! Though it was dark and close under the trees, an ethereal deep gold light filled the forest. Thunder boomed overhead and fog drifted below us. There was just enough light to see a faint shadow cast by our walking sticks. The soft sound of creeks and waterfalls running between granite pillars, mingled with the sound of rain dripping through the leaves overhead. We walked along in the semi darkness bathed in the golden glow and listened to the absence of any sound of man.

My iPhone wasn't up to the task of capturing the unusual light. On the other side of these rocks is a sheer drop down to the Buffalo River.

As we neared the top of the mountain, the branches overhead could no longer contain the volume of water that was falling from the skies. Reluctantly we turned back down the trail. 

I never did find a view open enough to set up my easel. But I gathered impressions that will long stay in my mind's eye and no doubt find their way one painting or another.

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