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10/15/2011
  This is my 3rd installment in a row for exploring the major creeks within Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area. This week we travel to the depths of the Sugar Creek Canyon......a gorge so deep the sun only appeared for 10 minutes while traversing overhead. I arrived at the Fort Douglass bridge over Big Piney Creek around 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Sunrise is at 7:15 this time-o-year so I plodded up the Ozark Highlands Trail at 6:10 with headlamp blazing. Yes....I am hiking on a trail for a change.....just to give me a circular route. About three miles down the path I headed over the ridge to the south and down into the valley of the Sugar Creek. Elevation close to 1730 feet at the top. No oxygen this time as I am now acclimated to the elevation in the area. From then on it was downhill all the way. There was a trickle of water flowing since it rained a bit in the area earlier in the week. The fall colors are still not great but there is enough yellowy hue to still look lovely. The weather was wonderful again with clear skies and temps ranging from 48 at the start to 72 and the finish. I am happy to say that I encountered no bears on this trip.
It is interesting to me that each of the three creeks I have hiked have very different personalities. The first two are tributaries of Hurricane Creek but Sugar Creek empties into Big Piney Creek. It is not as remote as the others since hwy 16 is nearby. Sugar Creek has it share of boulders and bedrock, but it also has a fair amount of bluffs along the way. There was only one decent waterfall in this stretch that was about 6 feet high. However, there were many side creeks with falls that emptied into the main creek.....none were running though. I thoroughly enjoyed this hike and look forward to exploring more of this wilderness later. Total hike was around six miles....was in at 6:10 and out at 12:00.

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