This past weekend marked the start of Spring Break at UCA, meaning that Benjamin has a week off from teaching and getting up early. We wanted to take advantage of that and get outside for a couple of days. Donna and David invited us to hike a section of the Ouachita Trail with them at Queen Wilhelmina State Park on Monday. We decided to head to the park on Sunday, and camp out for the night first. The park, which is almost to Oklahoma, is on top of Rich Mountain, reportedly the second highest mountain in Arkansas. I don't know about that, not being one for the numbers, but it was steep (both driving and hiking up) and it was windy. Boy was it ever windy! It sounded like we were at a beach with 6 foot waves constantly crashing around us.
During our preparations for the hike, we discovered that our trusty tent had been stolen out of our storage unit (it was broken into a couple of months ago - at the time we were more worried about our brand new backpacks and didn't notice the tent was missing). We were about to leave, so what to do? In a word, tarps. Thanks to a comment by our friend Greg last week, and memories of my dad's tarp, we headed to SprawlMart and bought a couple of tarps and a length of rope. It was a lot lighter to carry, and easier to pack, and worked well enough, although it wouldn't keep bugs out, if it were mosquito season. The big problem? Snapping. The wind (did I mention it was windy?) would lift up a part of the tarp and snap it, right above our heads.
The great part about hiking in spring is seeing all the wildflowers. Although it is still a bit early for some of the flowers, there were still plenty to see, including the crabapple above and the violets below. Spring did seem to be a couple of weeks behind up on the mountain - they still had daffodils blooming at the lodge, and there were no leaves on any of the trees yet. Here in Little Rock and Conway, there is more green visible every day.
Spring is also supposed to be a great time to see waterfalls here in Arkansas. I am hoping that we will get a chance to go back to Cedar Falls at Petit Jean while there is still water in it. When we went in August, it was just a tiny trickle. But that will have to wait until some time in April - I am off to Washington D.C. next weekend for a training conference.