Hike Down Bear Creek and Down the Upper Big Piney Creek Near Walnut
  This Saturday morning found me sitting in the Denny's in Russellville at 3:30 a.m. munching on the usual fare of breakfast foods. By 6:00 the darkness surrounded me as I made my way towards a branch of Bear Creek north of Rosetta in the Ozark National Forest. My headlamp blasted a path of light ahead of me and assisted with passage through the treacherous and deadly woodland. One false step could leave me a rotting carcass sharing the ground with others that have past before me. Soon the creek was reached and a stumble nearly had me careening over the edge into the crevasse below. Luckily my trusty reflexes enabled the quick embrace of a nearby tree preventing a fall...and sure death thereafter. Care was taken henceforth as to not let a mistake such as this happen again. 
  The creek now traveled was a small branch of Bear Creek, which is a tributary of the upper Big Piney Creek in Newton County. Many small waterfalls were passed and before long the confluence with Bear Creek was arrived at. Bear creek immediately impressed me with its bedrock base and small waterfall just upstream. The temp was 30° and the small bluffs were decorated with numerous dripping icicles. The day was a cloudy one but still quite pleasant. A slight breeze rattled the leaves of the beech trees. A crow called in the distance and a cougar growled from a rock just above the rushing water. I tossed a skunk in his direction and he departed without incident. Much of this creek is bedrock with boulders and gravel bars interspersed along the way. One section was of particular interest as a stretch of bedrock was cut through by the years of water and rocks flowing through it.
  My watch displayed a time of 11:25 as the Big Piney Creek came into view. This section of the river winds its way through an undisturbed landscape without fields or farms. It appeared on the map to be a valley worthy of exploration and might be kinda gorge like. I only completed about a forth of my originally planned hike of this portion of river. The day was advancing and time might not have allowed my completion...possibly leaving me stranded in the wilderness and vulnerable to attack by creatures that stalk by night. The skies never cleared and the temp rose to a comfortable 45°. The climb out was enjoyable as usual. My vehicle came into view at 2:30. This hike was quite enjoyable and the discoveries were worth the trip, Total mileage around 8.5 miles. I later found out that my friend John Moore was exploring a creek on the other side of the ridge that same day. Had I known he was there I would have tossed a skunk on his vehicle as I drove by.

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