Oct 14, 2011Gary on Hawksbill Crag (Whittaker Point), Arkansas (365:287)
Today I had an easy day’s hiking in Arkansas with a couple of friends.
We started off with a hike up the ‘Lost Valley’, I’ll have to return when the creek is in spate – today it was completely dry; so we hiked up the creek bed instead of the trail. We crawled on hands and knees into a cave (I found out afterwards on YouTube that there is supposed to be an upright route in), which has a large chamber about 150′ in. Normally there is a waterfall there, but not this time. We took a second hike along the Buffalo river and finished the day backpacking to a superb camping spot near Hawksbill Crag (aka Whittaker point) – a rocky shelf suspended some 200 feet up on a bluff overlooking Whittaker creek. The bluffs and crag providing magnificent views across the valley. It really is a wonderful place, and it’s not surprising it is one of the most photographed features in the Buffalo River area.
I left my pedometer behind, but a rough guess is that we hiked just under 7 miles altogether.
Our campsite was under a huge rock ledge, that is normally fronted by a waterfall. However, after the long dry summer it was dry. There were a few drips of water to be collected nearby, which was lucky, otherwise we’d have been thirsty, as the six litres of water I packed in very quickly started to dwindle. The space under the ledge was big enough for several tents, so we had plenty of room with just two.
After dark we were interrupted by the arrival of a party of students who were hoping to spend the night under the ledge. They were very polite, and fortunately had a better knowledge of the area than we did, as they spent the night under a smaller overhang, that we didn’t know existed, a hundred yards further along the bluff.
Just to finish off the day we revisited the crag around midnight to enjoy the scene in the moonlight. Given the huge drop-offs perhaps that wasn’t the most prudent of ventures – especially as my headlamp batteries decided to go into terminal decline on the way back.