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  Driving north on I-40 at 2:30 a.m. is typical for me these days on Saturday mornings. Today my destination is Whitaker Creek in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area. Breakfast when heading up Hwy 21 is usually at the South Park Restaurant in Clarksville or Waffle House...both being open 24 hours. This morning's choice was South Park. After a porky meal I drove north to Hwy 16 west and then north on Cave Mountain Road to the Whitaker Point (Hawksbill Crag) parking area. There was one car there at 5:45 as I made mt way down the dark trail with a sunrise scheduled for 6:59. Well, there was never a sunrise since it was cloudy....and it stayed that way the entire morning, The temp stayed around 60 degrees and the humidity was felt to be a bit high. I typically do not see anyone at the point this early but a young couple strolled up around 7:00 and took over my solitude.....oh well....onward ho.
  The trail continues on to the east along the bluff line until you get just below Tim's house. Here you can drop down to the base of the bluff...which I did. The slope is quite steep downwards to the creek and there is another bluff line to get down from near the bottom. After crossing the dry Whitaker Creek I made my way up the very steep slope and found a break in the bluff line at the top. This bluff line has no good vistas until you hit where the creek makes a sharp left turn to the south. Near there I found a rocky promontory to rest on. The shouts of some young hikers echoed across the valley from the crag area. This is a wonderful area of the Upper Buffalo Wilderness save for the throngs that hike in to view this icon of the Ozarks. Also the visibility of Tim's house and the farm across the Buffalo take away from the feel of total wilderness.
  After my rest and a snack I discovered a slot down the bluff and headed down another very steep slope in a northwesterly direction. The valley floor was hit at the confluence of Whitaker Creeks main fork and the Lower Fork of the creek....which on a map looks more like it should be called the Upper Fork. Here there is waterfall right at the connection of the two creeks...which was dry...of course...but is about 6-8 feet high. If you continue upstream on Whitaker Creek there is a nice 3 foot waterfall which can be seen from the crag bluff line when the trees are leafless. 
  I had planned on hiking up the Lower Fork and then back to the trail but instead headed towards the bluff line on the north rim. Needless to say...it was quite steep. This hike involved a lot of /\/\/\. I did find a way up the bluff that I did not know existed. It is about half way between the crag and the waterfall...I forget the name of it...Jimmy Licker Falls or something like that. The trail was mounted and back to the west I trudged. It was near noon when my outdoor transport vehicle was sighted...and to my surprise...only 8 cars! One rednecky guy there went on and on scolding his young son and calling him a sissy and such. I rejoiced when they drove off.
This was a lovely hike of around 5.5 miles even though the sun never showed itself...at least not untill I was driving off.

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