Journal Entry – Day 16: Hiked up further into the mountain then descended quickly into Hobo Falls on Cedar Creek. Think I will stay here for a day. Fresh water puddles. Got to really explore the area and have some fun. Got some rain. Just random sprinkling, but may be more later. Saw red sky this morning through the pines. That old saying popped in my head, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” Rainfly is up and I’m ready for a fire or a storm. Mashed potatoes for dinner and plenty of clean water.
It was at Cedar Creek that I finally got to start reading the book I brought. I had actually brought two books, for some reason thinking I would have that kind of time since I planned to loaf it. I didn’t. I hiked Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley 200 hundred miles and never read it. The book I did end up reading was perfect for a thru-hike, “Secret Tactics” collected by Kazumi Tabata. Lessons from the Masters of Martial Arts. The small hardback copy is durable. The lessons were collected from writings of the masters of feudal Japan. A one page biography of the author is followed by a few pages of advice for life. I would read a few pages and then contemplate the advice while I explored the area.
One of my favorite descriptions of a martial art style is what was said of Ittosai Kagehisa, “His style was divine to the point of being indescribable.” As I was reading this passage I had a visitor show up in my lap. I named him Ittosai. He hung around camp all day to stay dry.
It threatened to rain all day as storm clouds covered the sky in tones of grey. It sprinkled lightly from time to time. I heard voices up the mountain as a man wandered around the cliff side and scrambled over boulders to get below the bluff. I knew what he was looking for. It was the first place I looked for water when I got down. A woman came down to meet him and said, “Is there water?”
“There’s water down the creek this way, not far,” I yelled across the holler. They both looked at me surprised, then smiled. They were an older couple in their sixties and still in great shape. Another woman in her forties descended the mountain path shortly after. They unloaded their packs and were relieved to shed their burdens. I showed them where the water was. It was a decent size puddle, maybe fifty feet down the creek from the trail and the water was crystal clear.
We got to talking and shared our experience on the trail. Realizing they were kind people, I invited them to join me or to make their own camp if they wanted some privacy. “It certainly won’t hurt my feelings if you want your space, but you are welcome to my fire and camp if you want.”
The three friends didn’t have far to go, and a storm seemed imminent. After some conversation and relaxation, they decided to join me and set up their tents to prepare for the storm. We collected firewood and kept a good fire going. They shared a couple drinks of fireball whiskey and were wonderful company. The man had thru-hiked the Ozark Highlands several years ago with a sixteen pound pack and a pair of tennis shoes. He gave me some great advice and we had fun by the fire. Then the rain came.
In the morning the crew packed up in the rain and said their goodbyes as I huddled up under my blankets in the hammock. They left me with a trash compactor bag and put the remaining firewood in it. I stuffed it under my rain-fly with everything else. I carried that bag with me to the end of the trip and it worked great against the rain when I needed it. I made a habit of collecting good tinder along the way and kept it dry with my lighter so I knew I could have a fire when I needed one.
I made coffee and breakfast at my feet, raised the Eno rain-fly on the side facing the creek, then sat back and watched the rain. It was a light rain with no wind and the sound sprinkled on leaves like a symphony. I continued reading “Secret Tactics” while practicing hammock yoga.
The rain let up for a bit and gave me the chance to go explore. I crawled to the top of the bluff carefully over loose rocks. I walked into forests of tall pine at the top and wandered into a collapsed boulder field. The leaves were starting to change and the glowing dress of autumn shimmered in drops of rain amid the dance of pines swaying gently in the breeze. I danced across fallen trees and skipped or slid back down the mountain under overcast skies.
I walked along the creek to Hobo Falls and relaxed by its waters. I had a good fire that night. In the morning the sun had come back for a visit. I set up the solar charger to charge some batteries. I had four batteries for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS25, and the tiny plastic USB charger I ordered for it was lightweight and charged quick. The Renogy E.flex solar charger was durable enough to just hang onto the outside of my pack with a carabiner and would charge even on overcast days. I walked back to the falls and planted memorial seeds for Melody Lane nearby.
I had my fun, but it was time to get going. I checked the map with breakfast and coffee, packed up, and got back on the trail.
Next Installment: Hurricane Creek
Check out johnozmore.com for artwork, sculptures, writing, and photography from the author or to purchase the Dark Fantasy novel, “The Blood of Winter” from Amazon available in paperback and Kindle versions.
Ebook versions are also available for Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Scrib’d, Angus & Robertson.
If you want to find out more information about the OHT you can check out the Ozark Highlands Trail Association website at ozarkhighlandstrail.com. They have some basic information and tips as well as any changes in the trail such as reroutes from landslides and other information that may change the trail experience. You can also check out ultralightbackpacker.com for some really great tips, advice, and recipes for any thru-hike whether you decide to go ultra-light or want to loaf it and take your time. Check back for more stories and photos from the trail.