Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Down Day and Rock Cave

Monday May 9, 2011
Petit Jean State Park
Site #109
Near Hot Springs, Arkansas

Since the temperature was predicted to top out at 89 today,
I wanted to get up and running
before it got too far into the 70’s.  

I started out running all the campground loops
to see the other sites and how many folks were here.

When I got to the end of the loops,
I ran into the Hike/Bike Trail to Mather Lodge and restaurant. 
It was a wide trail good for running and
mountain biking.  Some of the rock sizes might
be a challenge for a hybrid and
couldn't be done by a street bike.
But it was a good run.

Petit Jean was the first Arkansas State Park
and many of its buildings were built by the CCC
as was the case at  Cumberland Mountain State Park.  
Mather lodge is one of those CCC Buildings 
but sadly they have closed it
and the restaurant
for this entire season for renovation. 
That’s too bad since we had hoped
maybe we could have another great buffet.
 Here's the only corner we could give a picture of.

The trail was 1.75 miles one way
and I’d already run nearly two miles before I got to the trail head.
So I knew I probably wouldn’t go all the way to the lodge
or I’d be further from home than I wanted
by the time I’d run 5 miles.
I ran until the UP  hill and DOWN hill
repeat began to get
seriously unattractive.
At that point, I turned around and started back.

I met David on my way back. 
He’d started out about 20 minutes after I did
and turned around so we could go the rest of the way back together.

After we returned, David fixed another fabulous
omelet breakfast which we ate out on the picnic table. 
And then for the rest of the day
we worked on our “Down Day Lists”.  
Things we set aside to be done on days
we aren’t traveling or hiking
or kayaking
or sight seeing.

Things like catch up with the blog postings, 
call Aunt Gertrude,  
deal with financial affairs,
fix the day/night shade cord.
We didn’t get a lot accomplished
but we relaxed and enjoyed time out on the patio.  
Sooner than I could imagine, it was dinner time.

We eat an early dinner, around 5:00,
so it was possible to go out
for a relatively short after dinner hike. 

We went to the Rock Cave Trailhead.
The trail markers are also made out of rocks.
Here’s one

and the trail it marks.
You may have to look closely to see
the two rock markers on top of the rocks.
Or click on the picture to enlarge it.
There isn't a path without those markers.
You have to climb down from the top of these rocks to the cave.


The trail went over the rock tops
which showed clear evidence
of having been an under sea floor at one time. 
Isn't it amazing???
Like waves or patterns in the sand - but solid ROCK.

and on all sides were “Turtle Rocks”
The information sign told us that
“for millions of years, ground water has been
percolating through the crevices and cracks of
the rock causing oxidation of iron and other heavy
minerals in the sandstone.”
They really do look like the plates on
a turtle’s shell.
We walked on down to the cave and
all around it.
This avenue was just my size.

We found the cave opening
and wow!!

And here's what it looked like from
the inside out.

What makes this cave EVEN MORE fascinating is
that it has pictographs on the back walls.
These have been dated as being 2000 years old.
They are not petroglyphs
which are images pecked into the stone.
These were drawn on the rock and were
made from mineral pigments mixed
with animal fat or eggs.

Here is the sign provided by the park.
Take a look at the symbols.

We were able to find several of them.
Hope you can see them in these pictures.
If not, click the pictures to make them larger.
As you would expect, after all this time
they are faint and hard to see.

The cave walls themselves are simply gorgeous.

The geology of this park is very interesting.

One final picture of the cave looking out.

Leaving the cave, we walked down some
great steps put in by the CCC Company
who built nearly everything in the park from
1933 to 1941 when they were disbanded
for WW II.
I wish President Obama had
instituted a similar Conservation Corps
to help our parks
and the people who lost their jobs
during this recession.
Many people could have used the work,
have learned excellent skills and helped
the much strssed park system.
The steps took us down to the CCC Falls Overlook
of Cedar Falls.
We hope to do the hike to the falls tomorrow.
They looked great from here.
David’s zoom is amazing. 
I don’t know how he got this picture
from where we were.

We walked back to the car and up these
CCC steps.
Those men did amazing stone work.
Look at the top two steps carved into the rock
Click on the picture to make it larger if you can’t see them.

On our way back to the campsite
from the trail head,
we drove  around Red Bluff Drive
and stopped at
several overlooks.
But the evening was overcast
and the views hazy so
we called it a day.

Cedar Falls hike tomorrow!!


  1. If this is what you do on a down day, I'd hate to try and keep up with ya' on a busy day!

    I don't know how you teenagers do it! ;c)

  2. What a beautiful place! Will have to add it to the 'list' :)

  3. Those wavy rocks and turtle rocks are amazing!

  4. Well...you had a very RESTFUL day ;o)) But we really enjoyed the hike!! This really looks like a place we want to visit.

    You don't need no buffet...you've got David!!


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