April 2015. The second trip in April (see Pt. 3) was another 3 day trip way out in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness with my friend J.D. that involved a bit of an off-trail bushwhack, multiple river crossings, a bit of downclimbing, camping beneath a huge overhang, swimming about 0.5 miles upstream to fetch a fish I had caught, exploring up and down the creek, and eventually hiking out. Below is a short video from that trip:
We arrived on a rainy day and bushwhacked towards a place called the “Natural Bridge.” As we approached a hillside that would bring us down to the bridge, we startled some large bird that flew up and away from us, leaving behind a dozen or so large eggs. We opted to not eat them, but kept hiking. Soon we came across an elk who ran from us. Then we finally spotted the Natural Bridge and dropped down to it from the hill above.
Then we downclimbed until we came to a large overhang where we put up our tent and hung up our clothes to dry.
Morning burned away the rain and clouds although we were kept nice and dry beneath the overhang.
We headed down to the creek to fish and I caught a nice bass while JD caught a bluegill.
We hiked alongside the creek and set up camp at a spot near where the Ouachita National Trail crosses the creek.
Dinner consisted of mashed potatoes, venison, and fish.
Morning was bright and warm.
While JD fished back at camp, I swam upstream to a large boulder I had seen the previous day and did a bit of free soloing.
Then we hiked back towards the trail and followed it back to where we had parked.
We fished a bit more in the creek before heading back to Tulsa.
May 2015. Went on one two-nighter in the Ozarks, plus a did a couple random adventures around Oklahoma.
For the 3 day trip into the Ozarks, I hit up the Buffalo River again and took my buddies Brian Blackwell and Joel Garza along for an adventure that involved looking for an abandoned mine in the steamy jungles of Arkansas.
We got to the trail in the afternoon and hiked down to Big Bluff from the Centerpoint Trailhead.
I had been hoping to camp at the spot I had camped at with Jaime and Jon below Jim Bluff, but there was already a family there. So we backtracked and camped across the river below Big Bluff.
The morning brought along some rain for a few hours, so we ate our breakfast in a homestead.
From there, we crossed the Buffalo River and arrived at a sweet spot near the river.
After putting up the tent, we simply just relaxed and hung out. Here, Joel was busy building a walkway down to the water.
We whittled away the time making spears and hunting for fossils in a nearby creekbed.
After hearing a forecast on the radio that there was a Flash Flood Warning for our area, we dug a trench around the tent, put up the rainfly, affixed guy lines, found a place to evac to if needed, and went to sleep wondering if we’d wake up in the middle of the river. We woke up several times to sheets of rain being dumped upon us from above, but our tent held strong and the river only rose an inch.
We packed up our gear and started our hike out towards where we hoped to find an old mine. The maps we were using were from ages ago, and the forest had retaken much of the paths in the area, but we were optimistic.
Along the way, we came to an unnamed and unmarked hollow that I named Chau’s Hollow .
We downclimbed into it and explored every nook and cranny along it.
Plus, we (well, Joel specifically) monkeyed around on the vast creepers and vines that ascended from the forest floor.
Then we spent a couple hours looking for that mine, as the forest became more jungle-like and steam rose up from the forest. The humidity was around 80% and we were wayyy off trail. It genuinely felt like we were in some South American jungle, fighting through vines and whatnot. I stumbled across a gnarly waterfall but we failed to find the mine.
As we hiked back to the trailhead, a torrential downpour occurred, quickly drenching us. The rain was so thick at times that you could barely see more than 30 yards ahead. Wild boars in the area took shelter in nearby caves, and we were fortunate enough to see a few on this hike. They were massive, easily 300 lbs, and can run fast!
We made it back to the car safely and drove back to Tulsa after a fun weekend adventure. About a week later, Tulsa got hit with some pretty gnarly storms (this was while Dallas, just 4 hours south of Tulsa, was getting flooded hardcore). One day, it was raining pretty good outside, and my pal Christian Vaughan and I decided to run part of the Arkansas River during its flood stage in a borrowed canoe. So after leaving early from work, we met up and set off for a microadventure.
We put in about a mile north of the 71st St. Bridge and braced ourselves for swift water and wild waves.
Unfortunately, the river was flowing so slowly (even though it was swollen), that we ended the journey 2 hours later, having gone about 4 miles downstream. We rowed over to Los Cabos, a Mexican restaurant by the river, and called it quits.
Two weeks later, after visiting my buddy Seth Swank up in Kansas City, I floored it back to Tulsa and went canoeing and kayaking with Jon Hyre and one of my best friends and mentors, Bobby Parks. We drove to the Illinois River and after getting our river passes at the Illinois River Store, we put into the river around noon.
We rowed down the river, turning off into the numerous sloughs and backwaters to fish.
We took a break on the riverbank and ate a bag of chips before jumping in the water and tossing around a football.
We got back into the canoe and kayak and went further downstream. Bobby caught some nice bass in one of the offshoots of the Illinois that we rowed into.
We continued on past several rapids and logjams and a few other voyageurs before running the river down towards a bridge.
By the time we got to the bridge, we were treated with a glorious sunset. A couple miles later, we pulled our canoe and kayak up the bank of War Eagle Resort and Bobby got shuttled back to where he had parked.
This trip was my last adventure in Tulsa before I left a few weeks later and roadtripped across the U.S. to California.