I was reading my Arkansas Waterfall book and it said that the largest waterfall in Arkansas was at a state park called Petit Jean. When I consulted my Google maps, I found that the park was only an hour drive away and they had available campsites. Change of direction – change of plans. Off to Petit Jean State Park.
You would think that Petit Jean would be pronounced in the French way, but not in Arkansas. It is pronounced Petty Jean. You can read about the legend of Petit Jean here
Miko and I spent the first day at the park running around to all of the trails that were under a mile. Lots of rocks and lots of greenery. I saw the famous big Cedar Falls from an overlook, but I could only see the top half.
|I finally got Miko to look at me. I had to trick her though - I took a picture when she was looking away and when she heard the camera click, she thought I was done picture-taking and looked at me. Sly little puppy.|
|Top part of Cedar Falls|
I met a wonderful couple, who shall remain nameless, who had moved to Arkansas. We were talking around the campfire about traveling by RV to Canada and the gentleman said that he had a great deal of trouble getting into Canada – evidently Canada is a little touchy about letting people into their country with a police record. Never mind that the offense occurred over forty years ago. Never mind that it was a simple marijuana possession charge. Never mind that this gentleman had actually been pardoned by Governor Bill Clinton. Imagine, he actually had a piece of paper signed by the future president of the United States. I thought that was both a shame (Canada) and also very cool(Clinton).
I debated whether or not to hike the Cedar Falls Trail, which goes to the bottom of the Falls and was supposed to be the only way to see the Falls in all their glory. The trail was rated as strenuous and 'only those in good shape should attempt this hike'. The first half mile descends more than 200 feet down steps cut from rock by the CCC. This does not sound like my type of hiking. I wasn't too worried about the going down, it was the coming back up that had me worried. I decided to do it. What's the worst that could happen?
You had to be careful going down the first half mile. There was a lot of navigating down steep rocky switchbacks. I had to speak severely to Miko who forgot herself again in her never-ending lizard hunt and almost took us over the edge one time. Usually she is great on the trails, especially going downhill. She is quicker than I am going downhill and she knows that when she reaches the end of the leash, she needs to stop and wait for me to catch up. Otherwise she could pull me over flat on my face.
Once we got down the mountain, it was a lovely trail along the Cedar Creek until we got to the payload. Cedar Falls was beautiful. We sat down on a rock and just watched the water come down. It was cool and crisp and very idyllic. I found myself thinking “ok, when we get back, I've got to do this and I've got to do that and....” I had to tell myself to get back into the present moment. All that existed was these Falls – there was no past, there was no future. I ended up sitting there for maybe 45 minutes. It was a piece of cake getting back up the mountain. For some reason, it took me an hour to hike to the Falls and only 45 minutes to climb back out to the top.
|Cedar Falls - all 95 feet of them|
|For a little height perspective, check out the person/waterfall comparison. You could go behind the falls and this woman decided to do it. It must have been pretty cold based on how shrill her shrieking was.|
There were two young women, Susie and Chloe, in their twenties, who were camped next to me. We decided to go out and hike the 4.5 mile Seven Hollows (it actually only goes through four Hollows) Trail the next day. They were very interesting women, both had been raised by missionary families – one grew up in Spain, the other grew up in Panama. They also were traveling nurses. Miko likes to lead and be in front, which meant that I was in front. I felt very conscious of the fact that I was about forty years older than them and I really didn't want to slow them down on this hike. I was really moving out. It was a little bit humid. Let's just say I moved quickly beyond the glow, into the perspiring stage and almost immediately into the sweating like a pig stage. I don't know when I've ever sweated so much. It was fun though, the trail was a fun one and getting to know these women was also interesting. We did talk religion, we were coming from totally different viewpoints and it was so nice to be able to talk about beliefs in a respectful interested way.
|Chloe and Susie - it was great fun|
Two thumbs up for Petit Jean. I would love to come back someday.