Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lake Catherine State Park

Lake Catherine State Park was our favorite out of the three locations we hiked. It was beautiful, with lots of waterfalls. There were three trails to choose from and we ended up doing the Falls trail twice and the Dam Mountain trail once for a total of 8 miles. We had plenty of tree canopy to keep us from overheating and plenty of water this time around. I was pretty lazy with the big camera so mostly used the iPhone 4s:

We chose the Falls Branch Trail first because we wanted to make sure we got to see the waterfall. The following images are from our first round on this trail:

The Trailhead

Footbridge Photo Op

The first wildlife we spotted was a male Summer Tanager:

The Trail continued along the river, over footbridges and to the falls:

Forest Reflecting

Lighted Water

Our final day together

Take Me to the River



Falls Photo Op

After enjoying the falls for a bit, we headed up on the Dam Mountain Trail which as we were climbing the switchbacks, we spotted a few birds twittering about including lots of Pine and Prairie Warblers:

 Sweet Pine Warbler

 Posing Pine Warbler

Prairie Warbler. It's difficult to tell the two apart. The Prairie Warbler has yellow extending all the way down his underside and a black eye line through the eye and below. Both are quick little flyers!

We saw a few other interesting things on our way up and the view at the top was quite lovely:

 Stone Giant. Or perhaps one of Bilbo's trolls?

Orange Lichen


View from the Top

After coming down off the Dam Mountain Trail, we still had a couple of hours left of our afternoon so we returned to the Falls trail once more and took a few more photos as well as soaked our feet. We had the whole falls to ourselves and it was a lovely way to end the day. 

 Falling Water
Flares over Falls

And finally, on our way back to the car we logged some Canadian Geese and Mallards:

Basking Bankside

Next up, our final day in Arkansas...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Caddo Bend Trail at Lake Ouachita

On our second day in Arkansas, we headed out to Ouachita National Forest to hike the 4 mile Caddo Bend Trail around a portion of the lake. It was 104° and the last two miles was brutal due to a tornado the previous year removing most of the tree canopy. We definitely did not take enough water and I ended up with a touch of heat stroke at the end. Still, we managed to have a great time and the scenery was beautiful! It also gave us the most photographic opportunities which we snapped up with rabid delight!
Here are a LOT of images from that day, some taken with the iPhone 4s and some taken with the Nikon:
 At the Start of the Caddo Bend Trail. 
Lita, at home in nature.

This forest was filled with Red-headed Woodpeckers. We saw them several times throughout the day and were able to snag some not-so-bad shots of them:

We saw other creatures as well:

 Blending In

Little Dragon

Bee on Yellow

Giant Red-headed Centipede 

The whole trail wrapped around a section of Lake Ouachita so the views were stunning. We found a beach-like area that we climbed down to. I was sitting on a rock, just taking in the view, when something caught my eye. It was an uncut quartz crystal. Arkansas is famous for their crystal mining and I have mined there before with my niece Danielle. But this was better! It was like a gift from the universe. Best souvenir ever!

Happy Hiker


Pine Cones Over Lake Ouachita

After the short lakeside break, we headed back up to the highest point for some spectacular views and gorgeous flora and fauna:

Heading back up through the forest...

Branches over Bokeh

Forest Purples

Forest Grapes in Sunlight

Eastern Wood Pewee

Lake Ouachita Through the Trees

Islands of Lake Ouachita

Lita on one of the many fallen trees we had to navigate over due to a tornado a year earlier.

Wild Pea

Thistle with Polka-dotted Beetle

Rocky Outcrop

Locust Shell.
I used to pluck these off the trees in summer when I was a kid back in Kansas.

Posing Pooch

At the highest point on the Caddo Bend Trail

 View from the Top

Panoramic View

After taking in the view for a bit, we headed back down. At one point, we walked under a tree and heard a loud, startling noise. A huge bird took to flight...we scared him, he scared us! I was too in awe of the majestic size of him to grab my camera but Lita was able to snag some pics of him in flight and we were able later to identify him as a 2nd year Bald Eagle. Such an exciting moment to witness! I did manage to spot two other birds on the way down and it was a good way to end the day!

 Downy Woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse

Next up, our last day of hiking in Lake Catherine State Park! Stay tuned!