The pointed black peak in this photo is called Black Butte, and is easily viewed from my son's house in Mt. Shasta, California. All my loved ones who live in that town have climbed to the summit of Black Butte, and I have made it my goal to be included in the "club" that can say they have made it to the summit of Black Butte! The one time my son and I were going to attempt it, the U.S. Forest Service told us the road to access it was closed, due to snow coverage. Since then, I have been studying up on it, and learned that the best time to climb it, is from mid-May to mid-November. Books say it is a 5.2 mile round trip, that most people complete as a "half day" outing. Its summit is recorded as being at 6,235 feet. While brainstorming how I could fly out to California to climb it, it occurred to me that I needed to test my stamina for climbing another "pointed peak", that was in my home state of Arkansas. It did not seem right to travel to another state to climb a mountain, when there was one right in my own "back yard" that I have driven past all my life when making trips to Little Rock, yet never climbed!
That realization got me to "studying" Pinnacle Mountain in central Arkansas. This is a photo of Pinnacle, taken from the deck of my friends' home, many miles away from Pinnacle, in Roland, Arkansas. The cone shaped peak of Pinnacle Mountain has been an Arkansas landmark for generations. Rising 756 feet from the adjacent flood plains, Pinnacle's rocky peak reaches an elevation of 1,011 feet above sea level.
After several phone calls to the Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and talking to lots of people who had already climbed the mountain, I decided it was something I could do, but I would need to find a fellow hiker to go with me, as it is generally recommended that one not hike alone. That would mean alot of preplanning and coordinating calendar schedules, travel time, etc., etc.
It crossed my mind that the view that I would see from the summit of Pinnacle Mountain would probably not be that much different from the view that one could see from the easily accessible deck off the back of the Visitor Center! Since I happened to be in the area of the State Park for another event, I thought the least I could do in preparation for my future "summit attempt" was check out the trail entrance!
I saw some visitors talking about taking the trail from the visitor's center, that eventually connects to the trail to the summit. That spurred on my interest!
The Visitor Center personnel told me another option would be to simply drive to the West Summit Picnic Area, which would greatly shorten the hike. Even though I was reluctant since I did not have a hiking companion, I thought I could at least check out the area for future reference. What I found when I arrived there was that it was OVERFLOWING with people! I could hardly find a parking space. It was a beautiful sunny, Sunday afternoon, and it seemed that all of Central Arkansas, had converged on the site!
After seeing that I would definitely NOT be alone on the trail, I thought I could at least look at the first part of it, and get a "feel" for what it would be like to hike to the summit.
The signs are necessary because the trail is not without its hazards, particularly at the higher elevations.
I was used to carrying lots of water after doing desert hiking in Sedona, Arizona, with Road Scholar ( www.roadscholar.org ) earlier in the year, so I had my handy-dandy water bottle carrier with me, as well!
Various geological features along the trail kept grabbing my attention, making me want to keep on exploring further and further up !
Some of the trail is divided into broad steps, as shown here. Seeing women climbing the trail with skirts on reminded me of a story that my son told me on his first attempt to summit Mt. Shasta, as part of a Wilderness Medicine Continuing Education program. Their leader told them, that whenever they got to thinking it was too difficult for their young, athletic, well-equipped, gear-abundant, Northface-clad bodies to do, to keep in mind that one hundred years ago, the mountain had been summited by some women in skirts down to their ankles!
As I proceeded upward, there were even benches where I could stop and rest, looking out over the beautiful Arkansas River Valley below!
This dad is being cautious with his boys, making sure he had a hold on each boy, while simultaneously checking out where the heck he was on the trail!
I read this sign that said the trail splits into one that is easier versus one that is difficult and directly over the boulders. That was a "no-brainer"! I was going to choose the easier trail!
Unfortunately, however, somehow I missed the marker that was the dividing point for the easier vs. harder trail, and found myself crawling over boulders, and searching for the trail markers that were painted on them to show which general direction to scramble to next!
But with perseverance, I made it eventually to where the two paths merged, and followed the ridge line to the summit.
Pinnacle Mountain is part of the "Maumelle Mountains", which were named by the early French explorers. It seems the peaks reminded them of female mammary glands, or maumelle!
I am including this photo of me giving the victory symbol of praise to God at the summit, because I was SO PROUD of myself for accomplishing it! It was just a matter of taking that first step, and then putting one foot in front of the other. I want to encourage others to get out there and enjoy the beautiful outdoors God has created for us---his great classroom!
I had been observing this young lady exploring the ridge trail with her family, thoroughly enjoying the thrill of accomplishment and the beauty around her. Psalm 36:5 says "Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, ....how priceless is your unfailing love." Another thing that is priceless is the wonderful park system we have in our country. Many of these parks are promoting what is called a "First Day Hike" on January 1, 2014. So check out a park near you so you can get the year off to a great start by enjoying the outdoors. In Arkansas, just log on to www.ArkansasStateParks.com , to find out more. I guarantee, it will give you "Miles of Smiles"!! Tricia