Richland Creek Wilderness Area Hot Shrubbery Hike
  At 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning the Denny's in Russelville was busy with six or so other diners. When questioned...none of them had any knowledge of the Richland Creek Wilderness Area 40 miles to the north of us. It is good to know that many Arkansans are unaware of such a place as this...for it would be overrun with hoards of hikers in search of natural wonders. Many of these would be lost and left as carrion for all the scavengers that patrol the valley. What the buzzards leave behind...the skunks will roll in for scent enhancement. I came in from the north and parked on CR 1/FR 1205, I think, about 2 miles above Richland Campground. If you have not visited the campground lately you will find it has been renovated. You would think this to be a good thing, but in my opinion, the Forest Service did a crappy job. All the sites have ugly white gravel and the road is covered with that red clay-like mud that sticks to everything like peanut butter. I hope it will improve with a couple of years of weathering. 
  At 4:45 with 75° the dark forest was entered on the north side of the creek. Sunrise was scheduled for 6:05. The light from a setting full moon filtered through the trees and occasionally reflected off of creatures watching my passage. These very creatures lusted for my body...well...to eat, that is. My headlamp was all that kept them at bay. My second line of defense was, of course, the trusty sack of skunks tied to my hip...ready for deployment. At 5:35 the first in a line of bluffs came into view. As I stepped out on the edge of the cliff, one of the deadly woodland beasts made a move for my ass with speed that was almost too quick for my survival reflexes. He was not fast enough...for I merely stepped aside and watched him tumble int the shadowy depths below...maybe a thousand feet or so...I can not say. A faint "sblooch" sound was heard as sinewy body parts made contact with the rocky rubble so commonly found at the base of these crags. I chuckled and viewed the foggy valley laid wide before me.
  It felt plenty warm as the temp slowly rose, but mainly from an elevated dew point....for the temp was still below 80°. The fog was enough to lend beauty to the landscape but not too much to obscure it completely. My "dew rag" was soon soaked with perspiration and did little to dry my beaded brow. My wandering direction took me westward along the the bluff line. Many small vantage points were partaken of and by 8:00 I rested before dropping into the gorge. Please be aware that this valley is thousands of feet deep and only skilled hikers should attempt the descent. It just so happens that I am not skilled and tumbled many times on the way to the bottom. Also, one should know that the poison ivy is thick with tendrils that reach out and grab ones bare legs...should you be ignorant enough to wear shorts, as I had. 
  The fog had mostly cleared and the sun sparkled upon the Twin Devils Falls. It was now 8:45. The flow was enough for the fine display made by of this pair of waterfalls. After a rest and a snack, the decision was made to head back upland. My thought was to go to Richland Falls and then downstream, but this was not to be. I made it back to XOTU at 11:00 with the heat now in the mid 80's. The hike length was 4.4 miles. My route out was to the south this time. Many local hillbillies were noted to be swimming at Falling Water Falls, as is their way. My leftover skunks were delivered unnoticed to the group while passing by at a high rate of speed. The dust wake created by my sophisticated utility vehicle obscured my identity. I laughed heartily. It had been a good day of hiking and tossing...what could be better.

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