15 September 2010

Devil's Den State Park - Part 3

What? You thought two posts about our trip were enough? Think again. It was one of the best weekends ever, so I'm going to share more of it.
(Plus there isn't much new to photograph at the farm right now. You know those jokes about boring things- watching paint dry or grass grow. We have a lot of grass growing. But I'm not complaining- not at all. We are so thankful for the rain that Hurricane Hermine dropped on us.)
One of the highlights of the trip for me was the top-secret crevice hike. Ok, so it wasn't that big of a secret, it was mentioned on every flyer and bulletin board. It is a guided hike they do each Sunday morning. The thing that makes it secret is that the trail isn't marked or shown on the trail maps. So unless you wander onto one of the trails by mistake or go on the guided hike you will miss some of the coolest geologic features of this park. I must say, having a guide there to explain the geology of it helped.

The hike started out normal enough. Nice quite woods, nothing unfamiliar. But you better watch where you are stepping, because before long you encounter holes in the ground. Deep holes, some of the holes are just a few feet around, just big enough to catch a leg and break a hip, some are long cracks in the surface, but they are all deep. Then we encounter one of the largest crevices.

On a side note, everytime our guide said crevice, I thought of the guide we had a few years ago on a glacier hike in Norway. He pronounced it cre-VAZ.
We hiked down into 2 of the crevices. The deepest one was 55 feet.



The entrances to the bat caves are in these crevices.
So I just got curious and looked up this whole crevice/crevasse issue. Apparently the Norwegian guide didn't just have an accent, it's a totally difference word. You learn something everyday.
Which also means that these humongous cracks in the ground, the ones that are the equivalent of a 5 story building are not crevices.
Back to the crevasse hike. . .
The bat caves are closed to the public currently because of the horrible white nose fungus that is killing off bat populations across the US. The bats in these caves are Ozark Big-Eared bats, which were endangered before the fungus.
Can you see the guide in this photo? She is wearing a tan shirt, and sitting deep in this crevasse. That gives some perspective of how big these cracks are.

In case you were wondering why this area isn't on the maps, it is because it is dangerous. You really do have to watch where you are walking. We were very impressed with the State of Arkansas for not requiring fences and signs all over this area. There is just one sign at the beginning of the hike that warns that it is a natural area and to be careful.
One of the crevasses is called Dead Horse Crevice because a horse (thankfully without a rider) got spooked and fell to an instant death. There wasn't any way for the park to get the horse out, so they did their best to tuck it under rocks and branches and covered it with organic matter. A few years later a hiker brought the skull of Ginger, the horse, to the visitor center claiming to have found a dinosaur skull. (I'm guessing that hiker was a city slicker. I haven't seen many horse skulls, but cow skulls are a pretty common sight around here.)
If you go to Devil's Den State Park, it is worth it to get up a little early on Sunday morning to go on this hike.

14 September 2010

Devil's Den State Park - Part 2

Ok, back to my typical posts. Here are photos from the Yellow Rock trail at Devil's Den State Park.
This is not yellow rock, but this crevice was big enough and deep enough that there were a bunch of people in there when we hiked past.

This was part of the same formation as the first photo. The layer of shale erodes much easier than the sandstone.

The view from the overlook.

There were tons of cool rocks on this hike.

The view from Yellow Rock.


This is the view from another outcropping of Yellow Rock.

I highly recommend this hike.

13 September 2010

We are not that different

There is more variation within groups than between groups.
This is a concept I learned in Psychology courses in college; I find it applies well to life in general.

For a simple example, let's look at gender and height.  The average man in the US is 5 ft 9.5 in, for women the average in the US is 5 ft 4 in. So men are on average 5.5 inches taller then women. That is the variation between the groups, and it may seem significant until you examine the variation within those groups.
Currently the world's tallest man is about 8 ft 11 in. The shortest is about 2 ft 3 in. That is a variation within the group of about 6 ft 8in.  I won't bother you with tall and short women; hopefully the concept is clear.
(I got these numbers from trusty wikipedia.)

So, why am I writing about this today?
Because it applies to much of what makes the news these days.

First example- Religion. There are some Christian saints that live exceptionally virtuous lives. The vast majority of Christians are fairly middle of the road (they make the hump of the bell curve). Unfortunately there are also Christians that fall on the extreme opposite of the saints- doing things that are unthinkable to the majority. There is an enormous range, but most people fall in the middle.
The exact same thing applies to people of all religions, all over the world- including Muslims. The news and the history books may focus on the extremists, but the vast majority of Muslims aren't that different from the vast majority of Christians. They want a safe home, food on the table, education and opportunities for their children and good health for their families. While Muslims don't have the same concept of saints as Christians, there are certainly Muslims that live in a way that would be an example to all of us.

Another example that is literally close to home is US citizens and immigrants (specifically those immigrants crossing our southern border). My great-great- etc. grandparents came to the US for a better life. They were willing to work hard and sacrifice for what they saw as the land of opportunity. Are the folks coming to the US today any different? I certainly don't think so.
- - - - -

When I started this blog I really intended to stay away from politics and similar issues. I thought that the calm, reasoned, balanced perspective had to win out. I didn't think that I could add anything. Now, I feel that the extremists in our country are winning, only because they are screaming the loudest.
It tears me up to think that people just like me believe all Americans are hateful, because a few of them are getting all the attention. 
Please excuse my time on the soapbox, but I just couldn't keep quiet any longer.

08 September 2010

Devil's Den State Park

We went to Devil's Den last weekend (for my birthday!). It was lovely, so here are some photos.
First the view looking up while laying on the campsite picnic table.
Got to love those trees and clear blue sky.

Home Sweet Home

This was the view out of our tent. We saw some deer over here.

More to come...