Special thanks to Rob Batchman,  Cody Jiles, David Yonke for sharing their pictures with us.

Wow! I will never do that again! This was the most extreme backpacking trip I have ever taken. Ok..after my stiff never heard from sore muscles quit screaming at me.. I might do it again in a few...errr NO..never again.. ok..uh huh.   CLICK ON A PICTURE FOR  A LARGER VIEW!

Anyway. EXTREME BACKPACKING. This was my 3rd time down this 3 mile section of Eye of the Needle Top down. We had done it with day packs on. This time with gear for 2 nights of backpacking and camping. Day hiking is one thing. Backpacks added to it was another thing. It's hard to describe. Tough! Tough! Tough!

September 26th - 28th. Temps low of 58 high of 82. This was a gorge backpack. Almost every step of the way there is something you have to step over around or climb up or down to get through it.

Friday night 7 of us drove down in 2 vehicles to the top of the eye of the needle access road. 50 feet west and opposite side of road from Horseshoe Canyon Climbing Ranch.

We arrived about 7:15 pm and left the vehicles up by the road and packed on down to the camp near the end of the 4wheel drive grave road. Ruts 3 foot deep. I wouldn't drive my truck down there.

We had a nice camp. The only level spot we would see for 3 miles. 2200 foot elevation down to 870 feet and most of that was with in 1.5 miles of our camp.

We had a fun time around the fire. My son Marshall, Cody and Ernie, Rob and Joshua and Jimmy and me. We found out that Cody hates grand daddy long legs. So naturally we would toss any we found Cody's way. GRIN! Ernie hates millipedes.

Saturday morning met the Yoke Family at the vehicles and did the 30 minute shuttle.

9:15 am we were on the trail.

After a year this area changes. What was once trail is now washed down into the gorge. A sign a few years back was up top of the sign that says trail closed is now down in the bottom of the gorge. We and others had found a new way around this gone section of trail.

After a good 600 foot drop in a half mile we were all feeling it. YUP. Are we crazy! Adventure and challenge was beating out the fun but barely... So many up and down movements. A mile and a half of trail took us 6 plus hours. At the back side of the eye of the needle we fashioned 3 anchor points and placed our webbing straps each anchored to a big rock. Then Retraced 8 with a fisherman's knot and down went the "new dynamic rope" Now I have used Static, Simi-dynamic and now Dynamic Rope. It was bungee rappelling. A bit different and none of were used to it and none of us liked it as much as a pure static rope. With backpacks on we THREADED THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE. Rappelled down through it. The 92 foot long rope barely made it to the bottom.

6 of the group made the trip up and around the eye with a very hard climb and then over and up and down. This by itself is a challenge. Yet we persevered and about a hour later we were all down at the base of the eye. Our trip 1 mile so far had taken us 4 hours. We had lunch at the base of the eye and Marshall and Cody and Ernie retrieved the rappel rope and webbing. Making the climb up and over and back. Thanks guys.

Jimmy was really tested and stretched way beyond anything he had done before with some help from the group made the whole trip. He learned some valuable lessons and over came the physical merits of this Extreme trip.

After the eye you go down the creek up into a small tunnel that opens up into a huge rock room in the side of the cliff. Walking around this and then getting down the 200 foot drop is a chore and at the end of that is a 14 cliff that you have to climb down. Tough stuff for sure.

We then made our way down the Indian Creek another 45 minutes following the creek then up on the sides sometimes 200 foot above the creek..extreeme but exciting and good hard work. Ahhhh BASE CAMP.

At Base Camp night 2 we all rested for about a hour and then filtered water cooked supper and nursed our aching bodies back to life. GRIN! 3 sore ankles. 7 of the 11 had slipped or fallen with no major injuries. Rob took the hardest fall slipping down the same place he did last year. Next time I am putting a harness on him..GRIN! Can't loose your backpacking buddy on a 14 foot drop.

After a hour or so around the fire it was just getting 8 ish and we all hit the sack. Plumb worn out and a welcome nights sleep.

Sunday morning at about 7 we were all up and about and cooking and eating and talking of the trip and fun. Broke camp and had sunday morning church around the smoldering fire as Rob brought the "Talents" and turned it inward and challenged us all to use the Talents that God has given us.

By 10:30 we were back at the vehicles after a nice morning walk of normal easy trail... spoiled us it did obie one Jones says.

Stop over to McDonalds in Harrison and then back to Ozark. A blessed Trip.

Wanted to give special recognition to Ernie Moad. He carried the US Flag the whole
way. He also carried the rappel rope and at night time he had a stake with a light on it for the Flag to be lighted at night. He also shared his 2 man tent with Jimmy and went way out of his way to help Jimmy and others on this trip. Ernie you are a blessing.

Mark Jones