Tuesday, January 24, 2017


I have had the joyful experience of hiking with a group of folks, who are linked together through their family ties---not only their biological family ties, but also their church family ties.  

The section of the trail that we were exploring, is just one of many fantastic hiking areas, in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest ( www.fs.fed.us ).  It is called "Gunner Pool Recreation Area", and is a part of the larger "Blanchard Springs Recreation Area". 

Even though Sylamore Creek is not as famous as the Buffalo River National Park, it has some awe-inspiring bluffs, that are reminiscent of those along the Buffalo.

Looking for "friendship rocks", is a fun activity when exploring a creek bank.  A friendship rock, is a rock with a hole all the way through it. 

The bluff line shown in this photo is actually a short distance from the hiking trail, but it is easily accessible via a gentle slope.

Billie Kay and Delta were making notes of  our hiking mileage, as well as our vehicle driving mileage, so they could share that information, when they take a different hiking group out on this trail. 

Hiking sticks are very helpful when negotiating the uneven terrain of parts of this trail. 

Waiting in line, to carefully maneuver the section of the trail that goes THROUGH the bluff, not just beside it!

"Sister Act":  Exploring the caves, cracks, and crevices of these Ozark Mountains, is nothing new to these sisters, who grew up in this area.

These two sisters told me that when they were growing up in nearby Izard County, Arkansas, they spent most of their youth playing together in the outdoors.  They said each of their siblings had their own little "playhouse" in the woods.

This bridge was precarious, as it had been slightly knocked off its foundation.  For that reason, we crossed it one person at a time. 

Sylamore Creek is much easier to see when the leaves are off the trees.

The most uplifting aspect of this hike, was that after we all found a spot to sit along the creek, to have our sack lunch, Billie Kay led us in a prayer of thanksgiving for our food, the beauty of God's creation that surrounded us, and for the opportunity to enjoy these blessings by hiking outdoors with friends. 

This smile on Delta's face is a reminder to me, that our faith in Jesus Christ, not only gives us salvation into eternal life, but also ABUNDANT life, while we are still on this earth!  The Bible verse referencing this promise is in John 10:10, and says, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."  That is why I called this blog post, "Abundant Life Expedition!"

The tiny orange spot you see about midway up this bluff is a person, and I included it for scale, to give you an idea how tall this bluff is. 

One fun part of this trail is getting through this opening in the rocky bluff side, to access the remainder of the trail.  This photo was taken on our "return trip" from the hike, so it shows a different version of the opening, than the previous photograph. 

The bridge leading to the trail was built during The Great Depression.  A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) group was assigned to this area, and there is a stone memorial to them in the campground.  The group was called "Camp Hedges", and was active here from 1933-1942.

The namesake of this area is called "Gunner Pool Recreation Area."  The "pool" was created by a dam of the stream that flows into Sylamore Creek.  You can see the top of the dam, behind me, in this photo. 

This day of hiking in our wonderful Ozark Mountains, with a wonderful group of folks, gave me wonderful "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia