Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An impromptu hike/climb/scramble

It was 4:15 pm and I was north of the town of Ft Gibson heading toward the dam on the way home.  I noticed the river was way up, and it looked like ice swirling in the current. I found a place to pull over and scrambled down a 30' embankment to get a close-up picture. One wrong step, or a loose rock dislodging would have sent me into the stream. Worse yet, I would have ruined my iPhone!! 
I made my way up the incline to where I was parked, and noticed the steep bluffs towering above the river. With an hour to spare before darkness fell, I decided to do a little climbing and scrambling.

What looked like cliff dwellings had my attention, and a hiking I did go. It took all fours, and grabbing every green tree (as opposed to dead ones which snapped in my hand.) Two steps forward, one slide back. Maybe this wasn't a good idea?

Which way to go? I used rocks to step on (some loose, and a few were solidly planted), branches to steady myself, and finally made it to the base of the bluffs.

I followed the bluffs northward, hoping to find a cave or signs of possibly where a big cat had bedded down. All I saw though, were possum and/or coon tracks and an occasional deer hoof print.

A couple hundred yards and I decided to retrace my steps and see what lay further south. In a few places, there was a walkable route--almost trail-like--with several overhangs where an animal (or hiker) could get out of the rain. 

Here, my path took a diagonal orientation, and I leaned sharply to the left in passing through, using any crevice as a hand hold. Wouldn't recommend this trip during the summer months, as ticks, chiggers, and wood mites would feast on your flesh and blood.

This was the best overhang I found--flat enough to actually camp here. And what a view indeed.

Was it a hawk, an eagle, or a vulture? There are all three in the area.

It's hard to really capture how amazing this place was--so I made a short video, panning the view. 

I had tramped all over the side of these bluffs for right at an hour, and decided that in 15 minutes, I'd be in the dark with only an iPhone for a flashlight.

One last re-track north, and I found a drainage that fed back to the road. Slipping and sliding, I made it back about a half mile from my truck. No twisted knee, no sprained ankles (both were a real possibility) and I can say I did a little climbing.


  1. I need to get back in the habit of just pausing to take "the road less traveled" when I'm out and about. Thanks for the reminder!