The motto for Arkansas is "The Natural State", so a photo of hikers under a "Natural Bridge" in Arkansas' first state park seems like an appropriate beginning to this blog post. The setting is along the Seven Hollows Trail at Petit Jean State Park ( www.petitjeanstatepark.com ) near Morrilton, Arkansas.
About two dozen members of the "Women Hiking the Ozarks" (W.H.O.) group made their way from all over north central Arkansas to gather at Petit Jean State Park for four days in April, to explore the park, get some exercise, enjoy some food, and have some fun fellowship! As is the case before every hike, the ladies "circle up" to count off, say their name, and what town they live in. If all goes well, we have the same number of ladies at the end of the hike, as we had at the beginning!
This photo shows one of the three members of our group who used the Petit Jean outing as a "test run" for the backpacker gear they would be carrying for their through-hike of the Appalachian Trail, a few weeks later. The rest of us just carried our small day packs and hiking sticks.
On our first evening in the park, we gathered after our hike for a "sunset ceremony" on the edge of the bluff behind Mather Lodge. Another guest at the lodge was kind enough to take about ten different cameras from us, and take a group photo, as the sun disappeared behind the mountain.
Some of the ladies stayed in the comfortable and modern cabins that line the bluff above Cedar Canyon. Others stayed in Mather Lodge, or in their RV in the campground.
This unique geological feature is called Rock House Cave. I was especially eager to see it in person, because I had seen a photograph from the 1800's that showed a huge crowd of people assembled in this cave for an Easter Sunrise Service. (You can see that photo in my blog archives with the date of February 2, 2014).
This marker is a reminder that many of the Petit Jean State Park structures were built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the Great Depression. I am very thankful for the work they did, which not only helped support them and their families, but also built a solid infrastructure for our nation's park system.
A park ranger took this photo of me in front of the pioneer cabin. The cabin marks the trailhead for the Cedar Creek Trail, which is a glorious place to take a walk into nature. So it is fitting that the cabin was originally built in 1845, by a man named "Walker"! The carpenter was John Walker, who was one of the first known settlers on Petit Jean Mountain.
This photo shows Davies Bridge, which is named after a family that has a prominent place in the history of Petit Jean State Park. (See February 2, 2014, article I published that tells more information about the bridge).
The first photo of this blog showed a natural rock bridge, the above photo showed the man-made stone Davies Bridge, and this photo shows me peeking out from under a "tree-trunk" bridge!
This photo shows the Palisades Overlook, that is easily accessible by car.
We often hear the words "log on" to tell us how to get to a particular Internet site. However, the phrase "log on" takes on a whole different meaning when you try to get 25 women to straddle a giant log for a group photo! The location is The Grotto, a side hike of the Seven Hollows Trail. It is definitely worth the extra effort to get there, and was where our group stopped for their lunch break during the lengthy Seven Hollows Trail excursion.
I am using this photo of our leader Amy as she is presenting our devotional early Sunday morning, in front of Mather Lodge, as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses. It says, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Galatians 5:16) It seems to me that sharing God's Spirit of love out in "Mother Nature", will help minimize my "sinful nature"!
When you think of being in a state park, you think of gathering around a campfire, and we were fortunate to be able to do that at the spot where one of our members was staying in the campground. We had the opportunity to make S'Mores, which I have never passed up!
You may wonder how 25 busy women could ever clear four days in their calendars to gather in one place for the purpose of hiking! The lady who "got the ball rolling", or I should say "got the rock rolling" for such an endeavor is pictured in this photo. Roxy and a few other ladies were chatting about how cool it would be if our hiking group could do an overnight outing. So Roxy put that question on her Facebook page, and got a tsunami of responses from other WHO members who said YES YES YES! One night turned into three nights and four days of FUN FUN FUN!!! So I would encourage folks to make the effort to get outside and explore---no matter where you live!! If you cannot find a group to hike with, start up your own group! It will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!! Tricia