On a gray, rainy, sometimes muddy, Friday sixteen TrailBlazers headed toward Jasper for our annual pilgrimage to Buffalo Lodge to seek fun and adventure either/or on the trails or the Buffalo River.  En route Bill and Yours Truly checked Lost Valley Trailhead that had a roaring creek to cross and the Ponca Access to the Buffalo River that had high water flowing over the low water bridge!

 

We were in for a deluge and even Tom’s valiant efforts played havoc with his campfire efforts.  Instead of our usual Fri. picnic, we had already planned to do a lasagna dinner inside that evening.  The lodge is way down in a “holler” and fortunately did not need to levitate to ditch its foundation in order to serve as an ark to get us back up to Highway 74 in case of rising water!  Friday night it rained non-stop with lots of lightning so we were limited in our Saturday hiking options.  In the evening we played games like Farkle (getting farkled is a bad thing in this game!), played ping pong, watched TV, conversed or looked at pics.

In the morning we set out for Smith Creek Nature Preserve to hike “Fur Elise” (Beethoven joke) – actually Elise Falls!  The trail was soggy, muddy and slippery but there was a beautiful flowing creek, impromptu falls sprouting all along the trail, and even some wildflowers.  Alas as we trekked farther down the trail we were suddenly faced with a raging river that was supposed to be part of the trail.  There was no safe way for all of us to get through that surging water of unknown depth, so poor Elise was deprived of our visit and all our photo ops – definitely bad for her vanity and loneliness!  Heading back up the trail we checked out another trail that provided us with some other great waterfalls in the creek and lots of photo ops.  Boy, did we have muddy pants after this caper!

Next we headed to Lost Valley to eat lunch under the pavilion and check out the trailhead;   the creek crossing at the trailhead was still high but not quite as high as the day before.  Shifting gears, we decided to go to Steel Creek on the Buffalo to hike.  It is neat to start at Ponca Access to hike to this destination but this was impossible due to the flooded bridge, so we hiked up the trail for a distance and then turned back.  This trail also had lots of waterfalls that are not normally there or are usually just small trickles.  There also were neat waterfalls spurting out of the majestic bluff that serves as backdrop for the Buffalo River at the Steel Creek landing.

After we got back to the lodge, Tom got a great fire going for the wiener roast.  All of a sudden we lost power in the lodge and the adjoining building.  Bill and company checked out the switchbox in the basement and it appeared in order.  A phone call to the rental agent instructed Becky and Tom to go to the meter on a pole in front of the lodge and mess around with it until suddenly there was light, and we saw that it was good.  This is a little suspect – something isn’t right.

Sunday morning we woke up to a beautiful, sunny day and Yours Truly got dressed to the smell of bacon.  Alas, in no time, the power failed and, in the dark with a flashlight, Becky called the power company to find they don’t work on weekends.  Tom had tried his magic to no avail, but Becky finally reached the rental agent and managed to get us turned on again.  Methinks there are some electrical problems that need fixing!  Breakfast was finally back in full swing with eggs, biscuits and gravy, yogurt, biscuits, cereal and what have you.

Most of us decided to hike Lost Valley where we finally could rock hop the creek at the trailhead.  There weren’t as many wildflowers as usual but the falls at the Natural Bridge and Eden Falls were at their best.  There were also lots of us small falls springing up all over the place along the trail.

 The weekend turned out to be fine!  Thank you to Becky for organizing it and for all the others who helped in the kitchen and brought side dishes or goodies (mostly not low-calorie!) for all of us to enjoy, which we did!

 If you plan to hike the Marinoni next weekend, please sign up on this web site.

 

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