Fire Towers and Water Crossings

George, Evan, Kate, and I all had today off, so we spent the day meandering between interesting things that we didn’t think Brady would miss since he didn’t get in until this afternoon.

The group acquiesced to my hiking request and so we were headed vaguely toward Whitaker Point all day, mostly on unpaved but calm county roads through thick forests, electric green with fresh spring leaves and peppered with purple flowers. And the sun finally came out, after yesterday’s crazy weather! But there sure were a lot of water crossings. A helluva lot. I was proud of the Civic though; it handled them all quite well. Especially considering that its alternator is on the bottom of the engine, so it really shouldn’t take too well to the dunking.

On the way, we stopped to dry off and have a roadside snack at Devil’s Knob Fire Tower. There may or may not be photos floating around somewhere of me climbing up the tower to get better photos. Don’t tell anyone.

Almost to our next stop, Evan’s car suddenly broke down. It stalled going down a hill and wouldn’t idle / stay running without lots of gas. He poked around the engine for a few minutes before declaring that “something must have fallen out.” Uh…huh…

George and I started walking back up the road, not really sure what we were looking for. Until I saw a glint in the dirt in the distance.

That was the idle jet that should be screwed into the back of the carburetor. We’re pretty lucky we found it because they’re apparently rather expensive for seeming so insignificant. But in the words of a favorite TV character, “It’s nothin’ ’til you don’t got one, then it appears to be everything.” Evan actually only knew what it was because he was watching a video earlier this week on servicing his carb and they mentioned it.

We drove the rest of the way into Oark (“OH-ark”) a bit delicately, trying to offer the Civic a bit of a break. We were headed to Oark’s General Store for charcoal.

But between the breakdown anxiety and the late hour, when we smelled their burgers, we opted to make a lunch of it. Sorry, Brady.

After lunch we tried to make our way quickly over to Whitaker Point through another overland route. There were a few more water crossings and a tiny bit of rockiness, so this was a fun little road. Unfortunately, then we encountered a bit of a river.

So we backtracked to the highway, which was a gorgeous twisted ribbon of a road, so I didn’t feel bad about it. By this point, we’d spent most of the day trying to make it to Whitaker, and Brady was already there. He met us at the turn-off in his Scion FRS. It would have been lonely on the side of the highway, so he decided to follow us on the dirt roads to the hike in it. Suddenly the Civic wasn’t the shortest in the group anymore. And from the view behind, it seemed to go well. Apparently he needed a new pair of shorts after this.

Whitaker Point was amazing. A fairly short hike, just under 3 miles. But I “forgot” to warn everyone that it was a downhill-first out-and-back kinda hike… It runs along the top of a bluff out to a rock formation that juts out over a valley. I am so glad we went.

After the hike, Evan and Brady got on the road back to the cabin. Kate, George, and I wanted to hit up one more fire tower nearby, Buffalo Tower. It was up a much rockier road, but probably not even a mile.

Pay no attention to the razor wire between me and my car…

After it was finally dark out, we discovered it’d be almost an hour on the twisted highway back to the cabin, but chili was waiting. Overall, a great first day. Not sure what tomorrow holds yet, but we’ll drink about it.

Oh and another thing — I spent the entire day taking pictures of my tiny car.