Meteors on Buckeye Mountain

We like meteors, and we like the woods, and we like Mitch and Monkey and Nick. One of our favorite short backpack trips in Arkansas is one Buckeye Mountain, in the Caney Creek wilderness area. Most Arkansas trails do a lot of up-and-downing over the hills, but the Buckeye runs up to a ridgetop and stays there.

There’s a nice spot on top of the ridge, with good views and space for one-and-a-half tents. We all brought hammocks so as to leave the flat spot available for cooking and sitting to watch the meteors. We set up camp and added some preemptive warm layers.

Mandy and Monkey found ledges just off the ridge just big enough for their sleeping bags, so they decided to leave their hammocks packed and just sleep under the shooting stars. After supper, dark fell, and we all settled in to watch the show.

We saw EXACTLY THREE SHOOTING STARS before the clouds rolled in around eight pm. It got clammy quickly and those of us who were awake stirred up the sleepers and we all went to bed. It was pretty disappointing – the weather forecast hadn’t called for clouds! We’d driven all that way and hiked up the hill just to see a star show that fizzled as quickly as it began. We’d have seen more meteors if we’d stayed home.

Sometime in the night, the clouds had settled on top of us, and the fog had then turned to a light drizzle. Bryan woke the girls for help setting up the tent. He succeeded in getting help from Monkey but since Mandy’s un-wake-able, I’m told that all she did was mumble and stagger and then go back to sleep. The three of them shared the orange Marmot tent for the rest of the night, while we other three pulled our hammocks over our faces and snuggled into our sleeping bags.

The truth is that I didn’t wake up at all in the night. Mitch and Nick had set up their hammocks on the ridgetop at the campsite; I’d gone down below the girls’ ledges and pitched my hammock between chunks of rock. I didn’t hear the others moving around, eating breakfast, until I was called. It wasn’t raining, but the fog had settled around our little camp, thick and wet. Bryan had developed an awful headache, so I made him some breakfast and packed his bag for him, while he huddled miserably between rocks, out of the wind. Our family was at least prepared for bad weather, with rain/wind jackets and pants; since this damp wasn’t in the forecast, Mitch and his kids didn’t have much but cotton. We scooted down the mountain, feeling cheated – not only had we been deprived of our nice meteor shower, but we didn’t even get to enjoy a pretty Sunday morning in the woods!

Once at the cars, we decided that the best way to salvage the weekend would be to drive back to our house and let Mitch cook for us. And with brief stops for Bryan to throw up and for me to locate my (briefly lost) iPhone, that’s exactly what we did.

Once we’d spent the afternoon snug in a warm dry house eating fajitas, we agreed that we’d had a good weekend after all. We’d spent it outside, and we’d spent it with friends, and the less pleasant details weren’t all that important, after all.

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