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  A few small showers were encountered on the way to Clarksville from Little Rock at 3:00 a.m. ......but a 60% chance of rain would not deter me from taking a hike in the Ponca Wilderness this day. Had breakfast once more at South Park Restaurant then north towards Ponca with the Compton Trailhead in my sights. The curvaceous mountain highway leading there was obscured by fog for the most part but was absent by the time I reached the start point. A lone jeep was parked there so the chance of human encounter seemed slim. My boots met the trail at 6:15 with sunrise scheduled for 6:40....so it was still a might hard to see the trail...but my trusty headlamp helped out for the first stretch down the slope. Temp was around 72 with cloudy skies and very high humidity. I turned left and headed east on the Bench Trail that follows the uppermost bluff level. This trail was not a pleasure to hike mainly due to just plain ugly terrain...the trail was in good shape though. Upon nearing the source of bear Cave Hollow the trail was abandoned and the steep rocky hillside was adopted. I think I may have missed the bear cave if it was above where hit the creek bed, but I am not sure....for a bear cave like rocky area was encountered near the bottom of the hollow that may be the namesake spot for this hollow. Upon confluence with the Buffalo my direction turned upstream towards Hemmed-in Hollow where I aimed north up this hollow a ways then up the bluff and back on the Compton Trail (I guess its called?). I had been hearing voices above me here and was sure one was a child. Two men and a toddler were resting after a night on the river. I empathized with them over the thought of getting this...maybe 5 year old...back up this long and very steep trail....I have been there myself when my boys were young. Passed a couple more groups heading down and made it back to the vehicle by 11:00. The temp was now about 82 and the sun was peeking through somewhat...no rain met my body surface area. Distance was around 6.8 miles. One tiny seed tick was all that achieved docking status with my waistline...and I took pleasure in pinching its little head off...its screams were short-lived. I had lunch at K's in Jasper then took a side trip to Richland Campground. It was a revelation to find the entrance to the camp had been refreshed and the grounds were newly spiffed and ready for the low-life population to come on in and tear it up again.....yay....go scum!

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