Man o Man am I sore!  Yup we did a little more than 8 miles of backpacking and day hiking exploring and having a great time visiting 3 water falls.

A wild bunch of Christains!

Pictures at end of report!

Special thanks to Dan Rockafellow, David Yonke. Rob Batchman, Justin Fisher and  Mark Jones for the pictures.  Click on a picture for a larger view.

Weather had 0% chance of rain.  Highs 67 lows of 48.  It was projected a low of 32 but it never got close to that. It was a perfect weekend for the woods.

Friday was filled with phone calls and texts as last minute plans scrambled into place.  We had 4 Chevy trucks going all packed full of fun seeking trail covering camping Christian folk. 

Pack weights ranged from my 68 pounds for 1/4 mile in to about 20 pounds from the younger boys.   That is the most weight I have done on a backpack but it was very very very short.

With day light savings time it was dark before we left my house at 5:30 pm.  We left the drive and prayed as we headed down the street.  Soon we were in Branson and at 86hwy and meet Justin and Kasie and the Grace Community Boys. 

After a 2 hours and 29 minute drive we were at the Bowers Hallow trail head.  2 times I stopped once to scare the guys that w were lost and the next time double check we was on the right road...GRIN!  Yup it was a road just wide enough for a truck to go down with no gravel and muddy spots that you didn't dare stop in. 

At the trail head we quickly put on our packs and headed a 1/4 mile to base camp.  It was a chunk of woods that had under growth every 3 feet in there.  A lesson on base camping and we quickly cleared out spots for our tents and for a fire ring that would handle 18 folks enjoying fellowship around the best TV show you could ever imagine a BIG campfire. 

We have never had this much food show up.  Camp fire cooking wow you can't beat it.  Everything tastes great!  Our Council fire got a late start at 10:30 pm and

Rob brought in a sermon on positive thinking and your words have power.  We all need a reminder to "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."  I gave him a hard time that he might be listening to to much TV feel good preaching...GRIN!  His point was made.  We need to focus on good things as Christians according to Philippians. 

Well I didn't get much sleep.  We camped on a hill side.  I put my backpack on the low side of my tent to bring it up level so I wasn't rolling down hill all night but that wasn't the issue.  Several boys pulled a all night vigil around the campfire and about 3 am I heard one blessing of a commander tell the boys to be quiet and go to sleep some folks need sleep.  GRIN! It was quiet for about a hour then it slowly picked back up.  I heard all the skinny of things others were doing... Yup sure all you guys that promote confessing your sins one to another... (your interpretation is wrong) and this proves it.  The folk you tell your inner most sins to will tell others.  Tell the Holy Spirit your sins.  He is the only one that can help you with it. anyway.  God's word says He is closer than a brother, Mighty Councilor, Teacher, Reprover.  He is God's plan for confession. NOT SOME MAN!  God designed us to confess our sins to HIM..not hear the confessions of others.  So if you want it to come out for all to know...tell someone.  FREE GODLY ADVISE!

Saturday 5:30 they were up.  Half the group was wide awake sitting around the campfire.  We cooked and had a quick devotion on what Jesus has done for you at the cross done for you.  By 8:00 we were heading down to Smith and McClure  and on the way back Bowers Falls.

The day trip was very bushy.  Lot's of trees to scramble over.  GPS is very useful here as the trail can get down to almost nothing but woods.  Boys were asked where we were to there best estimation.  It's always a good idea to know where you are in the woods. Keep referencing  where you are at. 

Each place has it's own special thing.  Huge over hangs you can camp under needing no tent.  Steep bouldering rocks to scramble around.  Walls of loose shale that come crashing down if you poke them.  Bowers is one of those tranquil God made places that are very, very, very cool. 

The hike back at 1pm from Bowers should have been a little sooner as we were rushing all the way back to get back to Ozark on time.  The 600 feet of elevation change is a lot to do for even a day hiker.  It was nice just having a short backpack out from base camp with heavy backpacks on.  Very doable and it leaves the boys with a better memory of the weight of that backpack not being so bad. 

Soon we were in Harrison chowing down on our Traditional McDonalds and Burger King.  We got home and heard the tale of a deer and a owl that hit Rob's and Dave's vehicles but didn't do damage.  You will have to ask them about it. I just got a few points of interest from the story as I was busy unloading and unpacking gear and getting stuff back. 

GREAT Time and we got back at 6:31 pm into Ozark.  You have to come on our next trip.

Mark Jones


Royal Rangers backpack – Bowers Hollow Falls

by Explore the Ozarks

We had another backpack with the Royal Rangers Friday and Saturday. This time, we explored around Bowers Hollow in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area of the Ozark National Forest. Myself and many of the Rangers that went this weekend had been here before several years ago, during the spring when the waterfall was flowing beautifully!

Kasie and I brought two boys from our Royal Ranger outpost, and met up with several other Ranger boys and leaders. Our group total was 18, and we all had a great time hiking, exploring, cooking, laughing and just enjoying each others company.

Most everyone left from Springfield/Ozark a little after 5:30 p.m., and soon made it south to meet Kasie and I and our boys just south of Branson. We continued south, and soon were south of Ponca, Ar driving through Boxley Valley. We then started the long, steep climb up and along Cave Mountain road, driving past the trailhead to Hawksbill Crag, and soon turning down the narrow road to the Kapark Cemetery access into the Upper Buffalo Wilderness.

We parked our vehicles here, among several others already there, and quickly headed down the trail. We only backpacked in about 1/2 a mile or so, then headed off trail to set up camp for the night. We all quickly unpacked and set up tents, then started searching for and gathering some dry wood for a campfire. After getting a good fire going, everyone was gathered around cooking dinner. It was about 10:00 by the time we ate dinner! Most everyone was off to bed soon after dinner, except for a few boys who stayed up all night talking!

The next morning after breakfast, we headed down the trail, deeper into the wilderness. We passed by the turnoff of the trail down to Bowers Hollow Falls, and continued down the trail until we reached Smith Falls and McClure Falls. I had never been to these two falls before, but some of the other guys had. There wasn't hardly any water flowing over the falls worthy of taking a picture, but it was still such a beautiful area to explore and check out. A few of us hung out at the top of McClure Falls, while everyone else found a spot to scramble down below the bluffline and falls to explore.

Soon, we were headed back up the trail towards the turn off to Bowers Hollow Falls. Once reaching the falls, we all took a break and had lunch. After lunch, almost all of us headed down the bluff line a ways, to a spot where you can make your way down to the bottom of the bluff, and then back up to the base of the falls. We explored a bit and took many photos, then headed back out and climbed up the bluff again. When we were all back together again, we took the opportunity for a group photo. Next, we had to make the steep climb back out to the trail. Once back on the trail, we quickly hiked back to our camp and began breaking down and packing everything up. It was just a short hike back out to the vehicles.

On the way out, when we passed by the trailhead/parking area for Hawksbill Crag, there were vehicles parked EVERYWHERE!! They were lined up and down the road on either side of the trailhead for at least a half mile. I have never seen so many vehicles there before. I am glad to see folks out enjoying the beauty of the Ozarks; but, at the same time, I am also concerned about the over-use of some of our natural and scenic areas. As visitors to these remote and scenic areas, we must learn to be respectful and gentle on the environment and habitat, taking care to leave an area much better that when we found it, so that future generations may enjoy and experience all that the Ozarks has to offer.