October 16th, 17th and 18th, 2015 Friday night 5:30 pm to Sunday 1:15 pm. Temps high of 70 low of 44.
Absolutely perfect weather for a 2 night 15 mile backpack good for the Hiking Merit for Royal Rangers.

A Backpack in Action!

Pictures at end of report!  Click on a picture for a larger view!

We had 10 folk for the backpack and 2 night stay and 3 came in early Saturday morning and did the day hike with us and then
shuttled us to our vehicle Saturday late afternoon. What a blessing.

Special thanks to Rob Batchman and Dave Yonke and Mark Jones for sharing the pictures. It's so vital to get pictures turned
in right away as it's always fresh on your mind and folks are interested in what you did the previous weekend and it's a
great time to tell them about Rangers and Christians out backpacking and laughing and having a good time.

As I and I am sure Rob and Dave did going through these pictures we are reminded of the many challenges, accomplishments
and laughs we had. We faced fears and fatigue and caught ourselves many times on these many steps over some of the wildest
roughest land I have ever hiked through. Scramble is more like it. Many times your using feet, hands and a combination of
your backside, front side getting through these boulders and climbs. Hugging a dirty old rock gives comfort when your edging
around a turn in a narrow part of the trail.

Our group this trip was a older group. Packs weighed in from 55 lbs to 19 lbs. Ernie and Rob tied for the he man pack award.
My pack came in at 45 lbs. Carrying extras and not caring about the heavy pack. Base camp was only 1.2 miles in on a nice
wide trail in the dark with only a hill or two to go over.

Friday night after the 2 hour drive we got to base camp at around 8pm. Everyone setup their shelters as it was after dark
and it's always a good thing to do first if your out of day light to drag up firewood. It's a real blessing having Rangers
that are not afraid of work and love to tend fire. I have to give a hi five to Andrew and Oliver and Ernie for their good
work on getting wood and a fire going. Ernie has recently become a LT. Commander at 18 and is exploring the wonderful role
of servant leadership. Great heart and hard worker. He was doing more bossing on this trip now he was a Commander!

We cooked up a feast of hotdogs, steak Garrett brought his biolite grill last backpack so I tried mine this trip. It works
great. I cooked up 2 filet minion and some instant potatoes... was really good. Everyone was shocked I was cooking steak.
I think Oliver cooked up some Roman Noodles and Gordon had soup. Lots of cooking going on. I love that time around the fire
cooking and sharing with each other trying different stuff.

Evening devotion was short and we went around the fire telling of one thing we were thankful for and also shared testimonies.

I hit the sack at about 10:30 pm.

The next Moring 7:00 surprised me with a crack of a stick and the shuffle of quiet feet kindling a fire. What a beautiful
morning. Birds singing, chatter from other critters. Night before we hear owl, coyotes, elk bulging and deer snorting
and the group was comforted by my snoring as they knew no wild animal would come into camp with Commander Jones snoring
like a grizzly bear sound asleep but "ready for anything".

We cooked up a mess of bacon and eggs and cinnamon sugar donuts and oat meal and other stuff. Coffee was my first boil of
water and then half a pack of bacon and 2 fried eggs. David Yonke blessed us all with his highly clamored for cinnamon
biscuit fried donuts. YUM with Honey. Woo Whoo Rangers! Now were talking. Ernie produced the best bacon and shared
with the group. I hunkered down and tried not to burn my food... Sharing what I had.

At 8:45 in to camp came David Julian and Joshua Pennekamp. Those trail walkers figured out where we were camped and brightened
our camp with their smiles and laughter. Love hiking with these Christian men. Soon we were heading out to meet David at
the trail head and the vehicles to take our 6 mile drive up to the top of Horse Shoe Canyon and begin our WILD Eye of the
Needle Top Down day hike.

Dave Yonke and I drove the group up that old rough road following behind some guy that had a new truck that was driving
about 5 miles a hour. What is a long drive at 10 to 15 miles a hour was labored. I would have liked to have talked with
the guy in his truck and ask him a few important questions... but we had a Wild hike to go on and soon it was forgotten.

The trail head as usual we broke out the maps and I try and get the Ranger boys involved in some map reading. Showing how
to orienting the map and figure out where we are going and give the details of the trip. 2200 feet to 900 feet in a little
under 4 miles and most of that in the 1st 1.5 miles. Follow the creek. That was a trail marker. It's always fun to see
how much folk remember. Some folk remember trails real well while others are not as blessed. Choose your leaders wisely!

We happened upon a group of 5 at the first water fall and creek crossing. They were rappelling the falls all the way down
and were in the process of a new person that has never rappelled going down for the first time. She did a GREAT JOB!

We exchanged pleasantries and shared some laughter with the folks and headed down the trail. At the point the trail goes
down, down, down. I cautioned everyone on Rocks, double checking your footing and don't' take chances. Know where your foot
will land and test it before you step again. Yes it is that critical. We bordered. We scrambled. We slid. We walked over
acorns and hickory nuts that felt like marbles on a already WILD trail.

In about 1 hour and 45 minutes we came to the back of the eye of the needle. We hung out there for 30 minutes and then
crawled up top and had lunch over looking the Indian Creek valley. Breezy and cool at 60 degrees. After about a 15 minute
slow decent down the very steep part of the whole trail we arrive at the base of the Eye of the Needle north side. At the
base we meet several folks that had hiked up from Kyles that is near our base camp and we visited with them.

The first group of rappellers we meet at the first creek crossing were there and we told them about the slit cave (Not the
Arkansas Cave which is restricted no access.) Max as they called him a group from the LDS Church he is a caver. Yup one
of those funny folks that have no fear of tight spaces and dark holes and being lost and never finding your way out again.

So after some salesmanship from yours truly. He and another guy went in looking for the unknown but promised way out around
the second exit and while they were in there. I sold our group on exploring for that entry way as they scrambled up and down
that looking for the 2nd entry/exit. Rob was standing right there where I told him I remembered it to be... Now I am a lot
of things but going down into a dark hole is not one of those things I will do willingly or rationally or chickenly. I will
if I have to..but it's not my first choice. If you go in I might follow you...but I aren't' going in first. GRIN! Chicken man
he's everywhere. Cluck. Cluck.

Rob comes down and said I looked that all over and there is no exit there. I thought I know I am not wrong. I know I am not
wrong. I tapped my heels together 3 times and out pooped MAX RIGHT THERE WHERE I TOLD ROB TO LOOK.!!!!! So I told him we would
watch Crocodile Dundee and he would learn why I call him Wally. He earned the scout title after MAX came out of that hole
he said wasn't there. GRIN! Soon our guys and Rob had to go down into that hole and see what was down there. It was worth it.
They came out of there talking like it was better than buttered bread. About 45 minutes they spent in that hole. I enjoyed
every minute of it...sitting outside knowing I knew where that hole was knowing I never came in or out of that hole. Cluck

Soon we were hiking again going down the creek bed. Up through the tunnel down the cave in and steep decent to the Indian
creek that now has a trickle of water going down it. We followed that down enjoying the creek bed all the bouldering and
knowing there is no climbing gym like this one. It is AWESOME.

We made camp at 4:15 pm and hung out for about 45 minutes until it was time to go with the 3 day hikers back to the shuttle
ride to pickup our trucks at the top of the mountain. A hour later we returned back getting 2 extra miles in

Wow what a Steak Feast we had. David and Rob put on a feast grilling steak and sharing with the rest of us. I cooked up
chicken noodle chunky soup and pudding. Rob cooked up a sweet potatoes with sugar and butter. Food was Wonderful.

Nights council fire came in at about 6:45 pm no moon. Fire was bright. Rob shared and we all shared around the fire and
we were tuckered out and hit the tents. Oliver tended fire until 1am but I never new it.

7:00 am came early. We cooked more food and shared and I delegated the powdered sugar donuts out to Rob and Andrew. Had
morning church and packed out at 10:15 am. Stopped at Burger King in Harrison and was back to my house in Ozark by 1:15 pm.

A perfect weekend with wonderful folk. Thank you each and everyone.

Mark Jones