Rock Creek Cave (Spring Entrance) Dec 19th
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This is rock creek on upper big piney in Newton County. Its near Parker Ridge Road. There is a cave here that has 200 feet of passage then sumps. No formations and probably no bats. A spring comes out of the cave. It will make a nice place to camp. It is at about 850 feet elevation in the National Forest. It is 50 miles from Russellville AR.
There is a 20% chance of rain that night a few days before that was upgraded to 60% then 70%. It will be overcast or partly cloudy. Sunrise just after 7am, sun set 5pm. We will need to be parked and hiking just after noon that day. High of 66F, low of 45F in the river valley. I expect it will be colder on Rock creek. And usually this time of year its much colder. 50mph wind gust are foretasted.
In the first picture there are buffalo on the lower right.
Next me on right and Steve Irwin on left eating boiled eggs that Ahsan brought.
Me on the left making tea, and Ahsan on the right.
Me and Teeka(Michael) Teeka is his trail name. A trail name is similar to the CB Handle for truckers.
Steve, Teeka and Me just before it began to rain hard. Wind had not started to blow yet. The tarp I was under there was a quick and dirty desperate attempt to make rain shelter. It later proved to be no good when 20 to 50 mph winds began to blow. It did work nicely though in rather heavy rain for a while.
The next morning I got up before anyone from the van. Yes me and Ahsan went to the van when the wind began to blow. My tent was taking a lot of water on the sleeping bag. I decided it wasn’t right for this situation. We had a bivy sack but I had forgotten about it. If I had climbed in my sleeping bag before the rain and wind hit and had it wrapped in that bivy sack I think I would have made it til morning just fine. Also if I’d just got in and used a poncho to cover my head area I probably would have been fine though the bivy sack would have been much better.
In the morning a gust of wind that resembled a clear torndo with 50 mph winds came along and knocked the green tent that was to be Ahsan’s tent over. It almost collapsed Steve’s tent while he was still in it. Mine was already down from the night before. The pegs were too light for the pole and I think I need to pack a V shaped peg similar to the military pup tent pegs just for the pole. Maybe 2 on the pole. The smaller pegs for the ground level pegging were fine. Also some kind of windbreak on the open side might have been a good idea.
Next the Spring cave from camp.
Teeka’s Tent in the distance.
This creek is called rock creek for a reason, The area has many house sized boulders all
Rock creek spring cave flowing very well.
Rock Creek flowing own down to Big Piney not far away.
A huge hunk of grey Pitkin limestone. The spring flows from this Pitkin limestone. This is a layer of limestone that is lower in elevation in the east and higher to the west. It is more like shale to the south and more solid to the north. It is usually between 10 and 20 feet thick. Boxwork caves are formed in this type of limestone. These are also known as maze caves. This spring only has about 200 feet of cave in the summer months when the water is at a trickle. It quickly sumps.
I tried to take photos of the encrustations in the limestone but they didn’t turn out well.
Next we have some beautiful green grass in the trees that reminded me of Hobbit land.
Again some buffalo on the lower right. Same buffalo as above.
This was to be Ahsan’s tent which fell down the next morning to a 50 mph wind gust.
The next 4 are of my ninja tent which didn’t survive the night.
This is me with the pack on. I was carrying 43lbs of gear there.
Next a fairly large herd of goats at a town called Deer Arkansas.
A rock bluff overhangs the roadway. We also encountered on the way in a natural car wash
that was similar where a waterfall showers down on the county road.
On the way back out to the north through Limestone Arkansas we had to hand clear a fallen tree. Wasn’t difficult because it was small.
Near Limestone Arkansas there is a Lodge with a rental cabin. And these 3 buffalo where there along with some goats.
We packed up and began back towards the main county road where there is a bridge crossing Big Piney Creek. This tree was leaning across the roadway the evening before when we came in to Rock Creek. I noticed then that its roots were a bit pulled up and it looked like it might go over at any time. Well it did. Luckily we only had to back up 100 feet or so to a sharp bend where I was able to back up and turn around to go north. We didn’t know how bad the road to the north would be either. There were some huge mud holes near creek level on it. On one mudhole we got out and probed the bottom with sticks. It was only about 1 foot deep and the bottom seemed solid. We made it just fine. It was about 30 feet long. Others the locals had already made paths around through the trees.
Ahsan took this image from the hillside above the spring of us at camp. I was on right, then Teeka, then Steve on left.
Next me in the chair staying warm. I had some extra cold weather stuff in a bag that got wet. Everywhere where the clothing touched the bag it had became damp or wet. I put on some of it this morning and was surprised to see that once it warmed up even damp it insulated well enough to keep me quit warm. Not all of it was cotton. I had complete covering for head, neck and hands.
Next we have a night image of the van. The guys heard and saw what they thought was someone walking on the county road 100 to 200 feet from camp. I told them it was Big Foot. It could have been the person in the window of the old farm house we saw on the way in. There was this woman who came to the window and it was very reminiscent of the horror flick Psycho.
Night photo’s of Teeka’s Tent which survived the horrific weather quite well.
Further lessons from this campout.
I didn’t cook any. I only made tea and coffee and tang. I bummed boiled eggs from Ahsan instead. Steve had a gravity flow water filter he brought. He hooked it up and it was very slow to start. So we figured its an all night filter. And sure enough by morning there was a gallon of filtered water. I boiled my water.
I had tried the next morning to start a fire with my flint and steel striker on a trioxane fuel tab. It wouldn’t take a spark. I tried using the walmart water proof matches and couldn’t get one to strike. It just tore up on attempt to strike. I then open and squirted out some Military fuel gel that is used for cooking. It wouldn’t take a spark. So I grabbed the bic lighter and lit the fuel tab and fuel gel. Of course it lit fine from a flame. I also tried my steel wool and 9v battery and guess what? The battery was dead. I think it may have discharged in the zip lock bag by short circuiting across another battery body.
Also a 2 to 3 inch dia. limb fell and rested on top of my van. It didn’t punch a hole in it. But it got me to thinking, what if a huge limb fell on a tent with someone in it. They don’t call those things widow makers for nothing. It might not have been smart camping under trees in such weather in tents.
The rain got me thinking of some way to erect a shelter over the fire where everyone could get under it and not get wet. Something like a TPee or Yurt with opening at the top. I now plan on working on a structure made from ropes and tarps and small Carabiners. If each person carried one rope and tarp and peg and biner. And one person a main rope with ring. Something like a TPee could be made. One rope would go from tree to tree about 8 feet high. The ring would be centered over the fire. Then biners latch onto the ring. 4 ropes go out to form a pyramid frame to pegs. Then one tarp on each side leaving a hole at the top. Its something I’ll have to play around with. Then I’ll post plans for it on a blog post. We had 4 tarps but no real good way to string them up.
I brought the AR7 22 but no time for hunting. We did not see any wild game except for crows. Yes we saw a murder. That is group of crows very high and distant. I setup a soda can at 15 yards and we emptied 2 clips into it. Me and Ahsan hit it 2nd shot while Steve took 4 shots to hit it. I was also hitting it every shot or every other shot not braced against tree. It will definitely kill small game.
Also all the tents had water in the floor of them, maybe 1/8th” to 1/4″ deep. Steve and Teeka where on air mats, so they didn’t get wet. Me and Ahsan went to the van and I idled it for heat. I noticed something about my van. First it revs up and down in a cycle pattern. It sounds like a a/c clutch kicking in when it revs up. Idle alone does not heat the engine water much. I’d say it would get down to 120 degrees. So it kept us above freezing but not warm. Whenever I would get cold I would wake up and hit the foot feed a few times until I felt warm air again and until I got it warmed back up a little, then go back to sleep.
I am considering putting 6 or 8 deep cycle batteries in the back of my van. These would keep 4 electric blankets going for 15 to 20 hours with no idle. I’m talking about the 12v electric blankets that are sold at truck stops for $35 ea. Also with an inverter an electric chain saw might be powered and help to clear small trees that fall on the roadway. Or would be good for cutting up limbs into firewood. Heck a battery powered skill saw might be nice for that.