Sunday, November 2, 2008

Devil's Den

Dana and I drove over to Devil's Den to run on the Butterfield Hiking Trail. This is a 14.5 mile loop through the Boston Mountains in eastern Arkansas between Fayetteville and Ft Smith. We packed stuff for lunch, iced 4 water bottles, brought a change of clothes and headed out. It was a 2 hour drive from Tulsa, including a Quik Trip stop, and a McDonald's stop.

We probably picked the most perfect time to do this....the leaves were so brilliant in color, they almost looked artificial.This state park has lots of camp sites and several cabins. I'd love to have a HUGE Tatur outing there someday.This is a borrowed pic, as the same one I took had my finger right in front of the lens!

No map or brochure for me. I know this trail. (It's a man thing, I know I know.)

Garmins charged and set, camera in pocket, two water bottles each, and we were off. A lot of the trail was quite rocky. I had ran this trail three times before, and I swear I do not remember it being so technical. Out of the 14.5 miles, I would say over 80% of it was very rocky...."rock quarries" is how Dana so lovingly described them. There were also a lot of fallen trees. We wondered if they were from the ice storm, or maybe a tornado or high winds.

By running the course counter clockwise, we got the worst climb out of the way early in our journey. This direction also provided a bailout point at mile 12 if we were running out of daylight. I have a lot of trouble getting the severity of the ascents captured in a picture. While this pic does not look as though I am falling over the edge of the Earth, it was quite a drop should the small tree have gave way.

Another difficulty of the trail was the fallen leaves. The leaves on the trail were smunched down just a little, but the newly fallen leaves made it invisible camouflaged the trail in several places.The trail was marked with blue blazes, but most of the paint had faded and was very hard to see. Plus, some of the blazes were probably on trees that were now laying on the ground.

After 4 hours on the trail, hobbling over rock gardens, stopping and scanning for a hint of where the trail might be, and climbing over or around huge dead trees, we finally got to the section of the trail that I had bragged so much about.A 1/4 mile long bluff that is 60 feet tall was the highlight of the trip. I had never noticed the face in the rocks until uploading the pictures. The right "eye" seems to be a portal in an elevated cave. Usually, there are rapellers and face climbers practicing their skills here, but today we saw no one.Doesn't look like it, but I am one step away from a 50 foot fall.

While not actually a cave, this area seemed like a good hideout for outlaws back in the old days.

Back on solid ground after some climbing.

The continuous rocks beat up Dana's feet, and the little ones got inside her shoes and chewed on her little piggies.No speed records set today. Two years ago, Earl Blewett and I ran the whole 14.5 in well under 4 hours, but today it took Dana and I six hours, and we did take a paved road 2 miles back to our car which cut about 1/2 mile off the trip.

Next time, and there will be a next time, I intend to explore some of the other trails in the state park....there are several. Some that were scenic, and slightly less rocky would be acceptable.

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