Saturday, April 14, 2018

Beavers Bend State Park

Before we leave our camping spot at De Queen Lake, we should report that the water level is going down. When we first arrived, we took this picture of a chair swing on shore that isn't getting used right now with the seat still resting in the water.

Two days later, that same chair is almost high and dry. So there is strong evidence that the water is receding. We also have to point out the curious yellow chalk marks going around the trees and the metal posts supporting the chair. We now know that isn't chalk, but rather pollen lines that we see on most of the trees at the edge of the water.

De Queen has an unusual check-out policy. While most campgrounds want you out of your site by noon, campers can stay here until 5 p.m. So we did just that. After our kayak trip back against the wind, we spent some time resting, took showers, fixed a nice meal, and left the campground at 4:30 p.m. That worked perfect for us because we were heading to a town just 30 miles away where we are boondocking overnight.

Boondocking worked for us for several reasons. 1) Generators need to be exercised every month or so, and we were behind on getting that done. 2) We wanted to go to a state park next, and Saturday is a terrible time to try to find a camping spot. But Sunday afternoon, when all the weekenders have gone home is a great time to get a great site. 3) At our boondocking site in downtown Broken Bow, Oklahoma, we were within walking distance of McDonald's for breakfast, Walmart for supplies, Pizza Hut for lunch, and Sunday morning church at Victory Life Church. So we fulfilled all our checklist. Then we headed out of Broken Bow on Sunday afternoon, towards our new destination at Beavers Bend State Park.

After only a few days in Arkansas, we have crossed state lines again, and we are now in Oklahoma. Denisa completely forgot her duties of taking a state line sign, but we've seen this one many times in our lives. We are inching our way towards Oklahoma City and our youngest son's bridal shower in a couple weeks. For now, we have read great things about Beavers Bend State Park, so we wanted to check it out for ourselves. It's a confusing park with two entrances. Because Oklahoma doesn't charge guests to enter state parks, there is no central gate house to give directions or answer questions (and take your entrance fee). We finally found a place to unhook the car and scout out a camping spot. As Denisa drove the car behind, she took a picture of the narrow road Mark had to drive to get to our site in the Acorn campground. The tall trees beside the road are just putting on their new spring leaves.

We got set up in our site with great views of the Mountain Fork River. That narrow road drive was certainly worth it. We're going to like it here!

We headed to the visitor center to get some trail information. They have a very nice museum and gift shop, and out front is a larger-than-life wood carving. This statue was carved by Peter Toth in 1979 from a 450-year-old bald cypress tree. This isn't Mr. Toth's only attempt at carving. He has one masterpiece in each of the fifty states, a nation-wide tribute to Native Americans.

We took a close-up of the face, just to show some of the detail.  Those wrinkles have weathered well for the forty years since it was carved.

Since we had walked a mile to the visitor center, we checked our new trail map to see if there was another route back to our campground. It would be longer and more difficult, but we were up for a hike that first took us along this little creek.

Our little creek had some elevation change, and we enjoyed the waterfalls along our trail.

Mark was spending time at these little waterfalls, as he was trying a new photo filter on his phone.

This is an example of the pictures we have been taking of moving water.

But this filter changes the water into a smooth surface for a whole different effect.

Our little creek became wider and deeper, and we were sad to see that the trail continued on the other side. No bridges on the trail, so we were left to find our own way across. We were glad to see a fallen log over the water some distance away. That's no problem for an agile hiker with good balance like Mark. He didn't even mind stopping in the middle at the highest point to take a picture.

The other hiker in the group, however, is not as well-balanced. After falling off a bridge on her bicycle a few days ago, she is taking the sure way across the log. It's slower, but she arrived on the other side without falling in the water.

Our trip through the woods took us beside wildflowers, so of course Denisa had to take pictures of this clustered bloom of wild verbena.

We had never seen these white wildflowers, with slender petals going in all directions. They look like little fireworks on a stem.

We were several miles into our hike when we came to yet another water crossing. The water was deeper and moving faster here, and the fallen log was much smaller. Just to make it trickier, it was wet and slick. This was going to be tricky even for an agile hiker.

Denisa was taking pictures just because she was pretty sure she was going to catch Mark falling in the water this time. When the log rolled under his weight, he made a leap back to our side of the creek. Somehow he managed to land on another log without even getting his feet wet.

Mark finally found a steadying pole to help him. Even though it was too short, he used it to help walk all the way across that slippery log. The muddy bottom of the creek and current made moving that stick difficult, but he made it look easy.

Now he has to figure out how to get that other hiker across! It's tough for Denisa just to get off the bank onto that slippery log. It's too close to the water surface to try the scooting technique from the last log. This could get soggy!

Mark finally threw another log over the water to act as a foot rest. It was too short to withstand any weight, and it was actually floating in the water. But it gave a surface to keep Denisa's feet out of the water so she could try the side-wise scoot method across. It wasn't pretty or fast, but she finally made it to the other side.

We didn't know what we were going to do if we hit another water crossing. Mark wasn't sure if he could get Denisa over a new crossing, and he sure didn't want to try to get her back over the last two if we had to back-track. So we continued onward. We didn't realize we were going on a mountain hike when we left the visitor center, but we found plenty of elevation change here at Beavers Bend State Park.

Denisa might not be very good at crossing bridges, but she is good at spotting pretty wildflowers. She had to take a picture of this two-color violet blooming in the forest.

There were also growths of fungus on fallen logs that make an interesting picture.

When we got to this low water dam, we were both glad we didn't have to cross the water. After seven miles, we are getting close to our campground. This is the Mountain Fork River that runs right in front of our motor home.

One final rock scramble past a waterfall, and we were home! We've just arrived, but we are already having a good time in Beavers Bend State Park. Welcome home to Oklahoma!

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