Monday, January 4, 2010

Clark Creek

All last week the weather was good except for Wednesday. Wednesday it rained all day, pretty torrentially at times. Since nobody else wanted to do anything, I took the opportunity to run around in the woods a bit.

My father-in-law had sent me a link to a website talking about the Clark Creek Natural Area, up north of Tunica Hills right at the Louisiana/Mississippi border. The photos on the site showed a bunch of waterfalls and they all looked pretty awesome. With the rain, they should look even better.

I drove up past St. Francisville, to Pond Mississippi. I'm not sure Pond qualifies as a town. There is a pond there though, and an old store.

 Pond Store Sign

 Pond Store

I stopped at the store to get a map. There were 3 other guys there, just stopping by as well. One of them asked the lady behind the counter about the ancient cash register she was using, and she proceeded to give us a tour of the entire store and the house attached out back, including every antique item and its history. It was fascinating, at least to me. The cash register, for example was from around 1850 and still in use. There's a deteriorating flat grand piano in one of the store rooms. She's got a large collection of bottles, including one from the Bayou Sarah Candy Company, which was washed away in a flood, along with the rest of the town. If you're in those parts and you like old stuff, be sure to stop by.

I couldn't stay all day though, I had some walking to get done...

 Clark Creek Sign

I met this dog at the store too. He was really friendly and tagged along as I walked up the road. He even followed me into the bathroom.


The trail started off as an old, roadbed.

 Clark Creek Trail

Wherever it was really steep, there were stairs.

 Clark Creek Trail Staircase

I got off of the main trail and picked up the Primitive Trail at the first creek crossing. The dog was still tagging along, and he loved the water.

 Dog in the Creek

The primitive trail was actually pretty easy to follow, and not so primitive for a while, but at the next stream crossing, I had to descend a near vertical staircase of roots to the creek, cross it and make my way down a treacherous bluff to get to the base of the waterfall there. The dog even had a hard time getting down.

 3rd WF

It was worth the effort though. The falls were spectacular.

And so it was all day. Falls, after falls, after falls.

 1st Falls on Primitive Trail 1

 1st Falls on Primitive Trail 2

 1st Falls on Primitive Trail 3

 2nd Falls on Primitive Trail

I finally got wet in this creek, up to mid-thigh.

 Rough Creek Crossing

And more falls...

 3rd Falls on Primitive Trail

 4th Falls on Primitive Trail 1

 4th Falls on Primitive Trail 2

The entire Clark Creek area is steep, deeply channeled loess bluffs. Complex topography to say the least. For the most part, the falls were bordered by cliffs and loess is unbelievably slippery. It makes Georgia clay look like sandpaper. I had to be extremely careful going off trail, and even on some of the steeper sections of trail, I had a hard time staying on my feet. The hike turned out to be way more dangerous than I'd expected and way more strenuous.

I did see some cool stuff though, in addition to the falls. These two black vultures, for example.


And a shelter.


I saw a bunch of deer too, including a pretty big buck.

Not long after passing the shelter, the dog took off. His tail had been hanging low for about a mile and I think he'd had enough.

I'd had enough too, I was soaked and freezing, but I did stop by a few more waterfalls, including this one.

 1st WF

There are apparently over 50 falls in the area, only some of which are near established trails. I think I saw 7 or 8 total. The main trail is wide, gravelled and easy and there are 3 or 4 right off of it. I'll have to bring the kids out next time I'm in town.

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