November 24, 2010
Today we are planning to head north to visit Jean Petite State Park. The fog has decided to visit us again this morning and so for the first hour Andrew has gone to capture that moment in that perfect shot.
The drive today about 3 hours even though it is only about 90 miles away. A good portion of the drive took us over the Ouachita Mountains. We stopped along the way and found ourselves facing a sign stating that bear hunting season was in session and that hiking with vivid vest would be advisable. I was not aware that this area even had bears. I know that some of the regions further north and higher in altitude are in habituated with bears but actually seeing one is very rare. We wondered if maybe the sign was a generic one as it also listed the other type of hunting and the seasons for each. All I know is that both of us, and probably Shyla too, started having flash backs about Colorado and bear invasions.
The drive was spectacular. The roads in Arkansas are extremely well maintained and we have yet found a road that was in need of repair. The road we traveled on today is designated as a scenic byway and it is easy to see why. We have timed our trip here perfectly this year with the change in color in the trees. Usually the leaves have changed and completly fallen by late November. But it has been unseasonably warm this year and they are just now turning. You only have about a week from start to finish so we are experiencing the full beauty this year. The road twists and winds its way up and down the mountains. These are no way as high in altitude as what we experienced this summer in Colorado but have their own majestic beauty.
It was close to 1pm by the time we finally arrived and was greeted with a fantastic view from an old stone lodge that was built in the 1930′s. The trees are a multitude of color at this time and the location forms a V shape leading out towards the horizon. We found a trail leading off and decided to take a stroll to see where it led. Shyla as always took the lead. The trail rewarded us with some excellent views of the ravine and finally ended at some mammoth rocks that would have been a boys dream to climb over. The rocks had a few small caves and crevices that had been formed from erosion of water at some time.
We found a little cave and I had Andrew sit on the edge so I could take some pics of him. the pictures are probably some of the best I think. He really is a natural with the camera. Maybe we should get hm lined up to be a model!!!
After heading back we took a look at the campsites. They are several to choose from. The back section (the working mans area) provides amble camping of about 100 or so sites nestled in tall pines. The front section (the elite area) are much larger sites and had views of the small lake. They were very nice but honestly didn’t really feel like you were camping. The sites were very big (to accommodate the huge buses that occupied them) and had an additional tent pad but felt too manicured. It really felt more like a resort site or RV park than camping. The lake here was extremely low. In one large section the water was so low that all remained was the dark mud.
The park has lots of hiking. It boast approximately 20 miles in total. As we arrived here so late we unfortunately were not able to explore more of the trails. There is always next time.