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May 28, 2005
Friday I finally remembered to make it by the Nature Conservancy office in Fayetteville for maps and directions to their Smith Creek property, which was recently acquired by the Conservancy thanks in large measure to the generosity of the previous owners, Marty and Elise Roenigk, who sold the 1225-acre tract of land for well over half a million dollars less than its appraised value.

Sometimes when you see how things work in the world it seems that the more money you have, the more damage you can do, but the Roenigks have surely done great good with theirs, not only for us in the present but for generations to come, and not just for humans but for the land and life in this important natural area.

More information is available at the Nature Conservancy Web site and from the good people at the Fayetteville office. Many thanks to Dayle McCune and Tim Snell for all their help.

So I was all set to head out plenty good and early Saturday morning to go exploring on Smith Creek. But of course if you're going to be heading that way, it makes all kinds of sense to get an early enough start to get to Hedges pour-off for sunrise because often your efforts will be rewarded with something spectacular. This is one of those places in the world that seems to draw light to it, seems to gather it in and mix it up and shine it out in all kinds of ways, and so if you are someone who is looking for the light, as I am, this is a place you may well find it.

Now most of the time I fall into the habit of mind that all of you who come to this site must already know about Tim Ernst and don't need me to tell you. But just in case, I ought to give credit where credit is due: Hedges pour-off is one of the many great natural scenic spots described in Tim's Arkansas Waterfalls Guidebook, and that's where I got the directions to this great bluff overlooking much of the valley of the upper Buffalo, not to mention the lower part of the Smith Creek drainage.

Anyway, this morning the overlook was socked in with fog, and I had to wait quite a while before there was anything much to see at all. At sunrise and for a long time after there was no sun visible, but finally it peeked through enough for me to burn a few frames. Then it was off to Smith Creek.

The path down to the creek from the highway takes about half an hour to hike and has short steep sections at the beginning and the end, with a long level section in between. Not far upstream from where the path joins the creek, there is an area over a hundred yards long where massive boulders stand in the creek bed, but by the time I got there, the sun was too high and harsh for taking photos. I had to settle for a few photos of a backlit alumroot plant and a little waterfall lit up by light bouncing off sunlit trees.

So I decided I had to come back the next morning, only earlier, to see if I could do justice to some of those magnificent boulders. Hedges pour-off could be missed for one morning at least.

There's this fold in the flanks of Wakefield Mountain along Bidville Road that I call Debbie's Ravine. Today's Back Light shot was taken there in the fall of 2003.