It wasn't in the Ozark National Forest or the White Rock area as was planned. But Brad Pickle, Mark Grigg and I spent a relaxing weekend in the Madison County Wildlife Mgt Area. The 3 of us decided to change location when it was apparent that only we were going to go.
This area is much closer to drive to and easier to walk. We met at the War Eagle mill, a good place to stock up on corn meal, cold rolled oats, etc., for a mid day meal on the 3rd floor, called the Bean Palace.
Then on to the camp, the same spot where the Arkansas Tree Rat Hunt was held last September. We spent what was left of Friday making camp and telling stories, getting caught up. Mark and I laid our blankets under the overhang and Brad found his bed from the Tree Rat Hunt and laid his blankets there among the trees. A pile of fire wood was gathered and a fire was struck to keep us warm as the temperature dropped with the falling sun. I had a pile of leaves and wool blankets and an oil cloth cover and was really quite comfortable most of the night. Brad didn't seem to stir much until daylight. Mark slept near the fire and would wake when his feet got cold and bring the fire back to life.
On Saturday we awoke and had what seemed right to each of us for breaking our fasts. Then we loaded up for a day trek and headed up a trail that leads to the over look. Brad had not yet seen it. We explored as we walked and enjoyed each others company. After enjoying the sights of this natural wonder we headed back sometime exploring a rock house or trail and talking about would it be possible to get from the bluff to the river below. We followed a stream down hill until it fell away into a waterfall. There in the hollow where the waterfall made itís music on the rocks was one of the largest rock houses I have ever seen.
Brad explored further to a fence and came back to report. Then while he and I sat and took in the sounds of the waterfall and the peace of the forest Mark went off on his own. After some time Brad suggested that we might go and find our wayward Indian and I had taken about 3 steps when I heard something from the hollow below. There was Mark making his way through the leaves to the rock house. He scouted it out and then made his way back. Telling us about some columns in the back of the large natural shelter.
It has been decided that Mark and I will go back again and see if a large party could make their way into the hollow and rock house. If so then a future Trek will be planned and announced. Marty wrote an article about the rock houses we saw on the first Tree Rat Hunt. If he thought the rock houses he has seen so far are the things of his dreams he will not believe this one. We made our way back to the camp gaining our rest and filled our canteens.
Then Mark being the solitary native that he is thought to stay in camp while I showed Brad the cave we have used several times to cool off and eat at and the camp where the first Tree Rat Hunt was held at. Brad was impressed with the locations. Back at camp we joined Mark and he provided us with a feast of beef cooked on sassafras twigs over coals. Where our Indian procured this feast we did not question. We talked awhile until Brad went to find his blankets and Mark with his feet warm dozed then I went to my blankets also. I laid there for maybe an hour watching the stars move behind the silhouettes of the trees.
Next that I knew I awoke to hear Mark stirring to gather wood from our pile to get the fire going again. I got up and joined him at the blaze for a while. We laid back down to doze until the sun pushed back the night and lit our temporary home. Again we broke our fasts. Then as always the worst time of anything like this comes and we gathered our things and packed for the trip home.
Goodbyes and hope of more of the same good times were exchanged and we left the woods much like we had found it. No guns were carried because there was no hunting season on at this time and the Game and Fish take a dim view to poaching. But even so we all enjoyed our time together and away from it all. The next planned event in this area is the Tree Rat Hunt in December. But if there is interest it would not take much to get me to set up the insurance and schedule another trek.