May 28, 2006
Getting to Dossey Falls at first light means getting up at one in the morning and driving through half the night, and sometimes it means ignoring the temptation to detour to the Talimena Scenic Drive because the fog and clouds are looking good and might make a dramatic sunrise. Sometimes it means driving through the McDonald's just south of Ft. Smith for pre-breakfast scrambled eggs and making an emergency stop at the convenience store in Waldron for a quick toilet break and for a jolt of sugar and caffeine. Often it means fighting off overpowering drowsiness by pulling over to rest the eyes for ten or fifteen minutes, or by taking Junie for a brisk walk at the rest stop where 71 meets 23.

But we did. We got to Dossey Falls at first light, and standing at road's edge on the hillside above the falls, I could tell that we were two or three weeks late. The water levels were disappointingly low. Still, we had just driven through half the night to be here, and so I strapped on the pack and off we went to see what we could see.

As it turned out, what we saw was terrain that we wouldn't normally get to see, a creek that we hadn't known before, and a falls that, if not as grand as it could be, was still not without charm. The heavens were kind to us that day as well, as the overcast lasted for hours, until about mid-day, which for us was more like the end of a very long day, with still a substantial drive home ahead of us.

I started exploring Leatherwood Creek in the Buffalo National River three or four years ago. Today's Back Light photo was taken during one of my earliest hikes there.