A peek at Indian Creek

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By MARK IRLE
(digitalBURG) – Upon returning to Indian Creek I was fortunate enough to have met Matt. It’s hard to find someone who is willing to make an assault on Indian Creek with a pack, but Matt had the gear and the savvy to go.

Mark Irle
Mark Irle

There are almost no spots in the canyon that are flat enough to set up a tent and camp. I had decided on my first trip that I could camp in the tunnel cave.
The prime time to see Indian Creek is when the Buffalo River is in flood stage. I use the Ozark Creek Information Summary to determine when to go. It’s an invaluable tool for canoeing or waterfall hiking.
Matt and I couldn’t have timed our hike any better in our wildest dreams. Not only were there waterfalls at every turn, but it didn’t rain on us as we headed for our campsite. See the video in my first Indian Creek blog.
Both of us were in awe at the number of unnamed falls that we were seeing in the canyon. There is no true trail to follow and the creek’s powerful waters must be crossed several times. Trekking poles are recommended for these crossings.
We reached the cave and set up camp. It took over half an hour for Matt to get a fire going in the damp conditions but he was determined. As the sun set it started raining, and we smiled as the thunder and lightning moved in. We enjoyed the view from our relatively dry position in the cave mouth.
Although we were choking on the smoke from the fire at times, we were dry and warm while preparing our evening meal. I repeated a phrase I had heard my friend Scott use, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” And we were on the edge, as there are nothing but sheer cliffs at both ends of the small tunnel cave. The cave rock is loose and porous and the heavy rains were dripping through. The only dry spots inside were just big enough for us to sleep on.
In the morning our fire was muddy ash and it was my turn to repeat the arduous task of fire making. After breakfast we headed up stream to the Eye of the Needle. It’s beautiful and rare to see water flowing through the Eye. Scrambling around the Eye is another steep and muddy challenge.
At the top of this waterfall we had to wade through a deep torrent which could easily sweep us over the 30-foot falls. After several more scrambles around falls and huge boulders in this obviously collapsed cave system, Hammerschmidt falls is reached.
Reaching Hammerschmidt falls marked the end of the canyon and it was time to retrace our steps back to Kyle’s Landing. As we left the awesome spectacle known as Indian Creek, Matt turned to me and said – “Listen” – but I didn’t hear anything. Then he said, “This is the first time in two days that we haven’t had to yell over the sound of rushing water.”
Mark Irle lives with his wife, Sandy, on a Century Farm near Warrensburg, Mo., and has so far visited 27 countries and 45 U.S. states.Visit their blog at www.iplanetrip.com.