November 9, 2013
Tumbling leaves are dispersing peak autumn colors, so Wendy and I joined Betty and John Henderson for a drive back to Kiamichi Country, the southeastern corner of Oklahoma known as Little Dixie, to hike 3.2 miles around the Rough Canyon Loop at Robbers Cave State Park.
My car is out of the shop with a new wheel bearing, but the tires are cupped. I had one wheel rebalanced awhile back and the car has a fresh alignment, but on my next tire rotation I’ll ask them to inspect the shocks and struts. Meanwhile, the crankshaft on Wendy’s car has a failing harmonic balancer. So we were grateful to John for driving Betty’s 2012 Camry on our expedition.
We picked up sandwiches at a QuikTrip, with me delightfully snacking on a warm soft cinnamon pretzel at the Generation 3 store we visited. I don’t particularly like the layout of those new stores, but they do have those pretzels! We reached the trailhead at Robbers Cave itself a bit after noon and headed west towards Rough Canyon.
Wendy delighted in the multicolored leaves on many trees as we walked on the step-like tree roots past Fourche Maline creek (pronounced “foosh-ma-lean” and referring to the “Treacherous Fork” of the Poteau River). A shower of red leaves across the trail was a welcome sight. We climbed the hillside past rock ledges and fallen trees, the trail decorated in autumn colors that were quite beautiful and painterly.
Wendy and the Hendersons paid attention to the various mushrooms along the way, with Wendy searching for puffballs; some of the larger toadstools attracted my gaze. We reached Rough Canyon and took pictures of each other at the sign, with Betty having her usual fun. We then turned north to follow the eastern edge of the rocky stream, with autumn colors nestled amidst evergreens.
I always love to bushwhack along the rocky ledges in the creek, and found a spot where we could ease our way down to the pools and ledges for lunch. Wendy and I sprawled out on a soft mossy ledge while the Hendersons found a convenient edge of ledge for sitting. After enjoying my half of a delicious Turkey and Swiss on Berry Wheat sandwich, I looked at the leaves in the water streaming across the ledges while John located a side spring, Betty delighted in a large crawdad and fed the fish in a large pool, and Wendy celebrated the peaceful surroundings.
After that lovely break, we set off eastward toward Lost Lake. Even the trail surface is quite picturesque at this time of year, with beauty underfoot. We saw many more fungi along the way and the cameras were out in full force to capture the autumn beauty at Lost Lake. Wendy sat on the dam to capture the reflections across the water, while I took my shots from the lakeside.
We saw more enormous toadstools as we wound our way back to the cave area, including a coral mushroom spotted and shot by sharp-eyed Wendy, who also found a tiny tree frog, so small my camera couldn’t grab focus before he hopped away. We took the “People Trail” to the cave area, where Wendy and Betty relaxed while I took John up to the cave, which he had not visited previously.
The rocky hilly trail made the 3.2 mile trek seem longer and we were grateful when John drove us to Giacomo’s in McAlester for an Italian feast and interrupted the drive home with a stop for ice cream in Okmulgee. I am very glad we made the long journey south for more Kiamichi Country colors, but after two long day trips on consecutive Saturdays I think my next day hike will be much closer to home.