Petit Jean 1/11/2013

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I had been chomping at the bit to get outside, explore, and take some pictures.  I had surgery just before Christmas which has kept me indoors for the most part.  I finally found time to break away and visit Petit Jean State Park!  The crazy thing was, it was mid-January and almost hit 70 degrees that day!  Typical Arkansas though… 1 day later and we’re looking at possible flooding and maybe even ice storms on Sunday.  My brother joined me again as we set out on this journey.  We only had a few hours so we went at a pretty quick pace!

Our first stop was Bear Cave Trail.  This leads you along some enormous boulders which are bluff line high above the river.  In the picture above, you can see Mather Lodge in the distance.  I’m using a zoom lens so you really don’t get a feel for just how far away or high up we are.  FYI, boulder climbing is WAY easier without a backpack full of camera gear and a tripod!

After Bear Cave Trail, we drove over to Mather Lodge.  This is the view just to the left side of the lodge. If you look a little to the right of the sign, you can see the bluff where the previous picture was taken.  Now you get a better feel for the distance between the two.

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Now we’re headed down Cedar Falls Trail.  We’ve had a good amount of rain lately so we were treated to several waterfalls in varying sizes along the way.

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Below is a close crop of one set of falls.  Don’t be fooled though.  The boulders are so big, that they make the waterfall look much smaller than it actually is!

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The next photo doesn’t do this waterfall justice.  There were several sections leading one into another and it just wasn’t possible to capture all of it in one shot.  I’d guess that this section below was about 30′ tall.

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There were several beautiful cascades along the way to the big waterfall.  If we’d had more time I would have liked to have taken more shots.  Next time…

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Here it is… the big waterfall.  You can’t tell by this shot, but it was roaring!  The sound of the water crashing into the pool drowned out almost every other sound around us.  I wanted to take a shot with a faster shutter speed to freeze the action, but there just wasn’t enough light to allow it.

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When we were leaving, I decided to take one last shot as seen below.  It was almost perilous!  I had to scale a boulder in the river to get the right angle.  One foot was planted firm, the other slipped on a wet spot!  I did everything I could to sacrifice my own body to save my camera (photographers will understand)!  I still ended up smacking my lens on a rock but fortunately it hit the lens cap, which went flying off into the water.  Lucky for me it was caught up in some leaves and I was able to retrieve it.  Tracy and I must have slipped 10 times between the two of us this day.  The combination of wet leaves and hidden rocks was rough!  I toughed it out and still got the shot I wanted.  It ended up being one of my favorites!

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After this, we decided to trek the extra two miles (1 mile each way) to the “Blue Hole.”  Let me just say, BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!  I don’t know if it was just the conditions, but we couldn’t even tell where the Blue Hole was!  Sheesh!  By the time we got back and climbed up the steep hill back to Mather Lodge, I was spent!  Maybe an easier trail would have been best to start with so soon after surgery!


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