Over 200 people came to Grace Community Church tonight to see Tim’s well-received new slide show, Arkansas Landscapes II, that he has been working on for the last year or so. He is finding that advances in technology as well as his knack for being in the right place at the right time can help him create some great new photos. Working with stars, he has found that it takes a couple of hours for his eyes to become accustomed to the low light so he can see the settings on his camera that allow him to create special effects. It is now possible for him to capture both landscapes and stars in the same photo. He is also experimenting with the effects of photographing the landscape in the early light before sunrise and the after light following sunset. 

The stars pictures really allow us to see just how many stars are actually in the sky, and Tim has even managed to catch the reflections of these stars in water. He also has an affinity for cows, old buildings, and bridges, so these also surface in some of his photos. Although he has taken pictures in lots of places both in and out of the US, he especially likes the quality of the light he encounters in Arkansas. In addition to hikers, we had lots of camera buffs and wannabes in attendance, so Tim was peppered with lots of technical questions regarding how he captured his special effects. 

Of course we had refreshments, our traditional prize drawings, as well as the opportunity to purchase Tim’s books, calendars, and other goodies at great prices. Thank you for coming, Tim!

Once again Tim Ernst made his annual pilgrimage to Grace Community Church to present a double-header slide program for us. First he talked about Iceland where he spent a whirlwind 2 weeks in August. Since the best light tends to be before midnight and in the wee hours of the morning, he camped out to be ready to shoot when the light was best. This island is unique in that there are no birds or trees, but there is some lush vegetation for the sheep. The only horses allowed are the native Icelandic variety and there are no polar bears; if they show up they are killed! There is little crime and virtually no pollution, so all cold water is safe to drink. Two different tectonic plates underwater is a unique phenomenon there, so Tim donned a wet suit so he could touch the North American plate and the European one at the same time. 

Tim’s great photos were accompanied by some unusual Icelandic music that captured the spirit of both the lush areas and the stark parts covered by volcanoes. Some places look surreal and Tim took full advantage of the unusual light that is unique to this island. There were several questions about his trip. 

Next Tim presented a new program accompanied by some beautiful music about autumn in Arkansas. There were spectacular photos of well known places such as Hawksbill Crag and the Buffalo River, dozens of waterfalls, and lots of other places that most of us have never seen or can’t find! Interspersed among the many scenic slides, there were stunning photos of individual leaves that have now become immortalized. 

Of course, we had refreshments and our traditional drawing. There was ample opportunity to get in some early Christmas shopping, and Tim was kept busy signing autographs. Thanks for coming, Tim!

Knoppers Ford to Jack Creek 

Sherri gave Yours Truly the facts, ma'am, just the facts! Thirteen happy hikers with Linda in the lead did lots of rock hopping as well as footwashing. There were some lovely flowers along the way and as usual the rock formations were a sight to see. 

Sherri: We forded 3 cold creeks with deep, fast water and made our way through poison ivy the likes of which we have never seen before - and the ticks were way too friendly .... but a beautiful hike! I think we all enjoyed our day in the woods! 

Editorial comment from Yours Truly: What happened to late spring in the Natural State? Looks a tad chilly for mid May!

Twenty seven TrailBlazers and 2 canines under the command of Buffalo Bob made another scenic autumn drive to Petit Jean to make yet another search for ALL of the elusive seven hollows! In addition to fall color, we were treated to tall palisades in the huge canyons, caves, and colorful falling leaves. The day started out gray, but it was warm and muggy and eventually the sun favored us with a smile. At Bonanza Bob’s suggestion we hiked the loop counterclockwise. The trail is rated moderate, but Yours Truly’s knobby knees know better since there are a couple of places where the rocks, steep drops or slippery rocks do not qualify it for her knee-friendly rating. 

In the grotto we were disappointed at the trickle of water in the falls. To make matters worse, our buff, young, patriotic Canadian of maple leaf fame was a no-show, leaving us with no lunchtime entertainment. By popular demand, Randy was chosen to be his understudy, but Randy stopped after baring his manly chest and modestly drew the line at cavorting in the slimy water in his Speedos decorated with a large leaf – maybe next year. 

Next we trekked to the photogenic Natural Bridge where we clicked lots of pics and then continued up to Turtle Rocks where everyone always enjoys playing around like a bunch of school kids at recess. After completing the loop some of us drove to Cedar Falls Overlook, lush with color, and we also checked out the newly renovated Mather Lodge. Alas, some of our members had skipped lunch in the grotto in favor of lunching at the lodge, but they were still on the wait list after an hour as everybody and his brother was at the lodge – popular place, so we still don’t know if they left hungry!

Twenty-four TrailBlazers made a scenic drive to Petit Jean under the command of Buffalo Bob to search for all seven elusive hollows. Once again our crack forecasters got it wrong – instead of warm, sunny and windy, it was cooler and cloudy with an occasional welcome breeze – great hiking conditions! To prove that we are flexible, we did the trail counterclockwise. After a while Bob headed off to do some spelunking on his own, so Tom grabbed the early lead until Kenya took over. Fall color was late this year and is lasting longer, so we saw wonderful photo ops as we walked through the canyon with its towering bluffs and colorful trees. Here and there the trail has steep steps making it tricky for vertically challenged people like Yours Truly. 

When we reached the side trail to the grotto, Bob had already emerged from the bowels of the earth to meet us. Lunch in the grotto featured entertainment in the form of a patriotic young Canadian who stripped down to his mean and lean black satin skivvies that featured a large, strategically-placed, red maple leaf. He jumped into the water and cavorted around under the falls - cameras clicked and he earned a standing ovation – at least from the ladies! He certainly wasn't camera-shy! Takahik, can you top that? 

Next some of us went up through the Natural Bridge and on up to Turtle Rocks where the views were spectacular and Yours Truly road a turtle bareback. Randy managed to get caught on greenbrier, shedding blood for us as an encore to the maple leaf show in the grotto! Becky came to the rescue with a bandage. Beautiful hike!

Two score and six TrailBlazers, both new and old, staged a mass invasion at Petit Jean State Park under the joint command of Judith and Ed. The day started out below freezing, but the temps gradually increased somewhat as we made the scenic drive on either Highway 22 or 10. There were so many trekkers in this Cecil B. DeMille cast at the trailhead of this loop that we decided to break into two groups. Judith and Ed led the counterclockwise contingent and Becky guided the clockwise group. 

Some hikers chose to start decked out for Operation Deep Freeze with hats, ear muffs, coats, and gloves and others chose to tough it out knowing that they would warm up once they started trekking and the temps warmed up. Either way it worked out fine because it was sunny and the weather was ideal for hiking. 

Yours Truly has been here several times and she must confess that she has never been sure where one hollow ends and the next begins, and has even spent quality time as well as loss of sleep wondering whether there really are SEVEN hollows. If this be heresy, YT was happy to learn that others have secretly entertained the same heretical thoughts! Surely the park wouldn’t put up a sign that wasn’t true with our tax dollars? 

One group lunched in the grotto where the waterfalls were conspicuous by their absence, and the other hikers munched up in the Turtle Rocks area. These rocks are always a fun and much-photographed playground as well as the Natural Bridge where everybody scrambles around enjoying the view. Even though there are lots of pine trees, we did manage to see several hardwood trees dressed in fall color.

About 3 dozen TrailBlazers gathered at Devil’s Den for our end of season hike and picnic. The good news was that weather.com’s hourly forecast for rain this afternoon did not materialize; it turned out to be a hot day with some sunshine and no rain at all. The bad news was that humidity was about 135%, and that was a conservative estimate! The dam had plenty of water cascading over it. 

Most of us opted to hike the old Devil’s Den Trail, starting out on the little trail through the old CCC camp, home to those wonderful stone masons who built the cabins as well as many walls and stone steps. This trail is short but very scenic with its side trail to the crevices, the Devil’s Den Cave, the Ice Box, some waterfalls, rocky bluffs, and views of the creek. The Ice Box was closed so we couldn’t go in to cool off. This hike is a mini workout as there are a lot of ups and downs. The rocks on the trail were mud-covered in places and quite slick. Even though the trail is relatively short, most people felt like it was long enough considering how sticky and muggy it was. 

Of course, a highlight of the finale is the wiener roast with all the salads and goodies provided by the members. So little time, so many choices, and so little room! Becky, we missed you today and want to thank you for all the planning you do. Yours Truly would like to thank everyone for the beautiful Thank You card, Original Creation by Linda, that features my battle-weary Fuji! Happy trails to you – see y’all in the fall.