11X14, Oil on Canvas
The Nars, or the Narrows for those of you who don't speak the English dialect peculiar to the Ozark mountains, is the last vestige of a once mighty mountain of limestone high in the Boston Plateau. Below and to the left is the Buffalo National River. As you stand at this location, I guess the river is about 100 feet below you. To the right and about the same distance down would be the Richland valley. Millions of years ago, Richland Creek scoured the mountain away and then slowly moved across the valley to it's current location at least a 1/4 mile away. As Richland Creek meandered away, the Buffalo moved in and took out the other side of the mountain, leaving this narrow strip of rock. The brave adventurous type can cross this strip and climb up the throne on the other side. At it's narrowest, the rock ledge is only a couple of feet wide and while the distance to the ground is not terrifying, a slip would certainly result in a broken leg or worse. The ride down that way would be extremely bumpy to say the least. This is a pretty isolated place and to fall here alone without a GPS transmitter would probably be disastrous, especially if you fell onto the Richland Valley side. I certainly wasn't brave enough to cross!
I have only been to the Nars twice in my life and when we went here to get reference pictures a few weeks ago, I was actually pretty concerned about being able to find it again. The first time I went was about 20 years ago and I was working for the Youth Conservation Corp building and maintaining trails in the national park. A county road runs right past it but that road is all but abandoned. The Nars is marked on some maps but there are no signs pointing you to it and if you have never been there, you could very easily walk right past the trail taking you up to it.
Downstream on the Buffalo side is a place now colloquially called Skull Bluff. It used to be called the Bat House by locals. This was the very first place I ever went camping with my dad, uncle and grandfather. We slept open air with the milky way stretched out across the sky above us. I think I was only about 4 or 5 but still have very vivid memories of that gravel bar.
The Nars is a very special location to me. Not because I've spent a lot of time here or any reason that most people might consider a place special. It's special because it was obviously very special to my family. Visiting my grandparents in Pindall as a child, I would hear them talk about The Nars all the time. It was a landmark for locating places and people in time. "Remember when old so and so went up the Nars?" "About a mile past the Nars is such and such." My dad and most of his siblings were born very close to here and it figured prominently in the landscape to them both literally and figuratively. And it took on mythical proportions in the mind of a child, much like Tir na Nog, a place of wonder and mystery.