October Journeys

Elk in Boxley Valley, Arkansas © Steve Creek, Photographer www.stevecreek.com

Elk in Boxley Valley, Arkansas © Steve Creek, Photographer http://www.stevecreek.com

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, every fog in October means a snow in December. The hills and hollers I call home have been cloaked in fog at least five mornings to date, with friends in remote homesteads and farms reporting even more. We’ve been lucky (so far) that the sun breaks through by mid-morning and the days quickly warm, making it perfect for great adventures.

One adventure sure to interest the whole family is the 27th annual Pea Ridge Mule Jump on Saturday, October 10th. From what I’ve learned, mules are not particularly impressed with the idea of jumping, and their handlers have quite a task to get them moving. If you, like me, wonder why anyone would expect a mule to jump at all, here’s one explanation I found in a post authored by Times editor Annette Beard:

“Mule jumping comes from a tradition in coon hunting of having mules jump over fences rather than finding gates. Hunters throw a blanket over the fence so the mule will jump it. Mules can jump flat footed.”

Elkhorn Tavern National Military Park

Elkhorn Tavern National Military Park

Pea Ridge, by the way, was home to what’s considered by many to be one of the most pivotal battles in the Civil War. Also known as the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, Pea Ridge is one of the most intact battlefields in the nation. It’s a National Park site and worth a visit. History buffs might be interested in comparing the Union Army and Confederate Army reports, found here.

River View at Calf Creek

River View at Calf Creek

If you miss the mule jump or want to see a different sort of wildlife, head over to the Buffalo River area. A friend who lives out that way reports that visitors are already crowding into Boxley Valley ahead of the fall colors to see the rutting elk. (Rutting season runs mid-September into November.) If you’re planning a trip out that way, you’ll find maps and helpful information at Arkansas.com and the Buffalo River Regional Chamber site. Enjoy the scenic drive while you’re out that way, too. Explore the Buffalo River (the first national river), the Lost Valley State Park and its trails, or just enjoy a leisurely scenic drive through the valley.

And–in keeping with the theme of legends and folklore this month–mark your calendars for Voices from Eureka’s Silent City (a fundraiser for the Eureka Spring Historical Museum):

Eureka Springs Voices from the silent city

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So…what’s on your schedule this month? Don’t forget: leave a comment on any or all posts this month to be entered in the drawing mentioned here.

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