Driving along the Glade Top Trail Sunday afternoon I couldn’t help but think back over the years and some of the events I’ve attended there during the past, say, 40 years. I was traveling alone so I could think out loud… or talk to myself, or whatever you might want to call it.
If you remember, the temperature Sunday was 80-degrees-plus, just downright hot for the time of year. But I reminded myself of the years that we have sat on the hillside at the Caney Picnic Area in bitter cold, sometimes with snow flurries and/or sleet pellets enhancing the unpleasantness of the cold wind.
That’s the strange thing about the weather in the Ozarks. Since the beginning of the Glade Top Trail Festival more than 50 years ago, the event has always been held around the same time in October. The date has been moved around – 2nd Sunday or 3rd Sunday in October, usually – trying to catch the colors at their peak before Chamber of Commerce people finally determined it’s best to just set a date and stay with it. For the past several years its been locked on the 3rd Sunday in October and most of the time that’s not far off.
This has been an unusual summer, and now summer is stretching into fall. But we all know the weather is going to change, and perhaps pretty rapidly. I heard one morning this week that we could have frost by week’s end.
There was a spattering of color in the timber along the Trail on Sunday, but not what we would have hoped for, for sure. But I have told folks many times, a drive on the Glade Top Trail is always a pretty drive – summer, winter, fall or spring. To drive along the high ridges and gaze off into the distance and know you are looking into Arkansas, or to scan the landscape in hopes of seeing a turkey or deer – or perhaps even a black bear. Wow! That makes me want to go back right now.
As I drove along Sunday with my windows up and the air-conditioner on, I thought about those guided tours they made in the 1960s. Caravans of 10 to 20 cars would travel together with a “guide” from Ava leading the way and stopping occasionally to explain a particular feature of the area. Few, if any, of those cars had air-conditioning. They just put their windows down and ate the dust of the cars ahead of them.
If it was dusty, there was a lot of it because County Road 409 was not blacktopped. Highway A was not blacktopped. It was all dirt road, from Highway 5 south of Ava.
That’s one of the neat features of a route like the Glade Top Trail. You can make the trip in an hour or less over the well-maintained forest service roads, or you can stretch it out to a half a day and enjoy a sack lunch somewhere along the way.
The best colors of the fall of 2016 are yet to come. We can’t say for sure when that will be, but soon. Why not plan a drive over the Glade Top Trail or on some other remote route in rural America. If you don’t want to drive dirt roads, there are plenty of scenic routes in this area. Get off the main roads and take one of the less-traveled routes and enjoy the day.
* * *
An amateur photographer was invited to dinner with friends and took along a few pictures to show the hostess. She looked at the photos and commented “These are very good! You must have a good camera.” He didn’t make any comment, but, as he was leaving to go home he said, “That was a really delicious meal! You must have some very good pots.”