Saturday Sept 14th- After a good breakfast, we decided that the first thing we would do was hike down to Cedar Falls.
The trail starts at the lodge, and provides an amazing overlook as you step out to the edge of the rock.
From the rim, the trail sharply descends into the Cedar Creek Canyon, stepping down on rock ‘stairs’ for about .5 miles, then continues another .5 miles to the waterfall. This is a trail that we have hiked a number of times, but it was special to share it with Rebekah, who had not been to Petit Jean before.
When we got to the bottom, we noted that the creek was as low as we had ever seen it. It has been a very dry summer in this area of the country.
Cedar Creek Waterfall……
Beautiful….even when it is flowing at just a trickle.
We each took our pictures at the waterfall…..
Remembering how many times in the past years that we had done this.
Brian and Rebekah hiked around to the back of the falls……
Hanging on tight!
After hiking to the falls, we continued on the trail around to the ‘Blue Hole’, then back up by way of the BSA trail, and around to the lodge for a total hike of about 5 miles. With the effort of hiking the steep downhill, then the uphill, we were all pretty worn out.
We headed back to the campsite for lunch and a rest, enjoying both the campsite and the convenience of our camper. Later in the afternoon, we got out for a drive to the Petit Jean Gravesite Overlook, at the edge of the mountain.
The legend of Petit Jean involves a spunky French girl who disguises herself as a cabin boy to accompany her fiancé on his voyage to the New World. As they explored the Arkansas River Valley, the group (including Petit Jean) have a wonderful summer on this mountain, joining the Indians as they were hunting and fishing. As they were about to leave to head back to France, Petit Jean became gravely ill and her true identity became known. Petit Jean requested that she spend her last days on this mountain and that she be buried there. Her request was granted, and years later, this mound of dirt and rocks (now protected by the fence) was found and thought to be Petit Jean’s grave.
I have always liked this story…. not just for the story of Petit Jean’s desire to accompany her lover, but because I have always pictured this young girl finding a freedom in the role of a cabin boy…..a freedom to roam the mountain and play in the woods, a freedom that she did not have in her traditional role in France. It is that carefree feeling manifest in the spirit of Petit Jean that has always drawn me back to Petit Jean Mountain.
Sitting on the rock face at the overlook -
The Arkansas River Valley below……
Gives one perspective……
This was a grand opportunity to be able to share this place, once more with Brian, and now with our daughter-in-law, Rebekah. It had a feeling of life continuing……..and did our heart good.
Coming back from the overlook, we stopped for ice cream at the Outpost store, then drove on to the Cedar Falls overlook where we were able to see the falls from above and spot just where we had been that morning. A full day, coming full circle……yet not over. There were still steaks to cook for dinner, and more visiting at the camper.