Sunday, January 11, 2015

Petit Jean

Last weekend, I wanted to take the new camera out for a few pictures. The weather promised to be rainy and foggy, and I tried to think of a good place to go. My original plan was to drive to a swamp in east Arkansas that I've been wanting to get pictures of in the fog. So I woke up at 8, grabbed the camera gear, and headed out of town on the freeway.

It had rained overnight, but I didn't realize how much it had rained. There was a lot of standing water along the road, and the ditches were full. Maybe it was enough to get waterfalls going? So I turned around and started heading west, and then changed my mind and turned around again. No, I thought. Who knows if things will be running. Better stick to the original plan. A few minutes later I changed my mind again, and turned the car around. I decided to head to Petit Jean State Park, which should have waterfalls (or at least fog). All in all, I probably spent about 30 minutes driving in circles around Little Rock before heading to Petit Jean.

I finally got to Petit Jean, and the top of the mountain was covered in fog. I stopped several times along the road for a few pictures.


I had actually been up to Petit Jean the weekend before, but there wasn't much water in the creek. That wasn't the case on this visit. It had poured down rain the night before (dropping up to four inches in places). The creek was overflowing. The small waterfall by the Davies Bridge, which was just a small tumble the week before, was raging. It was a torrent of muddy water, stretching nearly all the way across the creek.


I walked along Cedar Creek below the bridge, or at least tried to. The Boy Scout trail that runs along the creek was under water. The usually peaceful creek was a raging deluge, with tall whitecaps rising out of the water. I had never seen Cedar Creek with this much water in it before.


I drove over to one of the Cedar Falls overlooks to see what the waterfall looked like from above. As expected, the falls were churning.


I peered down to the creek and didn't see anyone by the falls, which is a rarity. The creek was flooded and I wondered if the trail was closed due to high water.


Petit Jean

I decided to try hiking the trail to Cedar Falls anyways, and try to make it as far as I could. Even if you couldn't make it all the way to Cedar Falls, there were a few other things to see along the trail. One of those is the small stream that tumbles down the hillside by the trail. Usually there isn't much water here, but it was running full tilt that morning.



Along the way I saw another hiker, who was making his way back from the falls. I asked how the trail was, and if it was passable. Oh yeah, he said, you can easily make it. The trail is flooded and you have to scramble on the hillside some. But it's doable.

Plus, he added, there were a few other people there. Including a four year old girl. So that pretty much meant I had to make it to the falls. I was imagining the hike to be a lot worse than it was.


I reached the bridge over Cedar Creek, which I nervously crossed. I really hoped the bridge wouldn't collapse while I was heading across.



There were two spots where the creek was so high that the trail was flooded. To get past it, you had to go up along the hillside, which was a slick scramble over moss covered rocks.


And finally I reached the falls. The sheer amount of water pouring down the falls was breathtaking. The spray from the falls was flying downstream like rain, and I was immediately soaked while trying to get a few pictures. I took several shots from this spot, and this is the one with the least amount of water on the lens.


I tried to take a few more pictures, while trying to combat the constant spray from the falls and the water streaming in from the bluffs above.


For a comparison, this is how Cedar Falls usually looks:

Cedar Falls

I started to head back on the trail, but stopped for one last shot of the creek. This is just below the falls, with the steep canyon walls in the background.


I dried the water from the camera and stowed the new camera away (luckily I didn't drop it in the creek). I have been to this waterfall many times before, but I've never seen it flowing with this much force. It was definitely a memorable first hike for the camera to go on.


David b said...

Holy freeking cow! The creek and falls are amazing!

Cormackphotos said...

Thanks, it was crazy to see it with so much water!