Welcome to the Mulberry Mountains, Arkansas
I believe I’ve fallen in love with Arkansas and the Ozarks. I never knew Arkansas was the ‘Midwest’ until I was at a music festival (Wakarusa) and a British band (Mumford & Sons) thanked us for our hospitality and awesomeness. Well Arkansas, welcome to the midwest.
I spent roughly a week in the sweltering Ozark heat back in June, and loved it. I couldn’t get enough dancing, swimming in rivers, and climbing in if I tried. Arkansas is absolutely gorgeous, and the people are the kindest I’ve met yet. Of course I’m generalizing, but with my ‘anything goes’ attitude, and lack of planning, I’ve found my new favorite vacation state because everyone seemed so willing to point me in the right direction.
My crag partner Michelle and I continued westward on our journey from Kentucky to Arkansas to attend Wakarusa. The 4 day music festival was my first, and we’re already planning on going back next summer for another dance/climb-athon.
Upon our arrival, and in an attempt to be dirtbags and save some cash, we decided to park on the road and hike into the festival. We threw our muddy caving gear atop all of our travel supplies in the trunk, in attempts to look as dirty, and not worth stealing from, as possible. Having not paid for parking, we had to find a way to wander into our destination, and we ran into a snag. Upon arriving to the gate, we found we didnt have wristbands like everyone else. Local Arkansan Love part one: a festival gentleman understood that we were wanderers, took our tickets, gave us wristbands, and let us rest our gear under his watch. Four days of dancing, sweating, dancing, singing, jumping into rivers in the Mulberry Mountains, and dancing some more helped me on my way to Ozark love.
The heat lead me to Local Arkansan Love part 1.5. A super old man at a pharmacy in the city actually picked out the drugs I needed to get rid of a heat rash. Sweet, kind, and so NOT creepy. (Really.) If only we were all this kind.
Then, of course, came the climbing. We drove up to Jasper, moderately clueless as to where exactly we were going to climb, and how exactly we were going to get there in a Mercury Cougar. After four intense days of partying, we were pooped, and needed breakfast and coffees. Minding our own business, and chatting at a local cafe, a gentleman approached us and asked us about climbing. Apparently he’d overheard our conversation, told us that his son was a climber, worked next-door, and would totally be able to give us tips on the area. This completed Local Arkansan Love part 2. He also told us that he’d trust his small children with climbers. Apparently we are some of the nicest most trustworthy types of people he’d ever met. Thank you sir, and thank god for the beta.
We went to find this mysterious climber son at the Ozark Cafe, and of course he wasn’t working. However, I did spot a man in a Mammut hat, and did what any lost person does. Stereotype. Sure enough, he was a climber, and pointed us on our way. (LAL part 3)
We arrived at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, paid our usage fee like good little climbers, and asked for beta from the shop guy. This completed Local Arkansan Love part 4. He not only gave us tips on where to climb, but what routes really were the best in the area, and best in the sweltering heat. And he was completely cute, and completely nonjudgmental on some burnt-out Michigan chicks climbing on their own in the Arkansas mountains.
I’m going back. You’re welcome to come with me.