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Our Family Adventures

Life and Adventures…. gardening, hunting, kayaking, jeeping, climbing mountains, and more!

That one time we went to Petit Jean Mountain in the heat of summer, then again the next spring in a winter storm…

Well it seems as though I’ve trailed off into the sunset and forgot about posting here on our site. I kept meaning to, then would get preoccupied with daily life and not stop to take the time. I would like to write about a couple of trips we took back in 2013/2014 to Petit Jean Mountain/State Park, Arkansas. It really is a lovely place. You can read more info about it here: Petit Jean State Park

The first time we went we were looking for a great fun place to take Cheyenne for her summer vacation in 2013. Ends up we went during record high temps of around 103 degrees or so on some days. Not exactly the best tent camping temps. But we had a fantastic time and did lots of exploring and hiking. She loved her first taste of mountains and rocks even if she did have a slight melt down on her hike back out of Cedar Falls.








The second time we headed up there was during our Mardi Gras break during Spring of 2014. We were hoping for some type of a snowy vacation, but not really expecting that would pan out. Boy were we wrong. A big winter/ice storm hit and caused traffic jams with people stuck sitting in Atlanta and Little Rock Arkansas on the interstates overnight. We just so happen to be traveling up to Petit Jean the night before it hit. We woke up to a winter wonderland on the mountain and temps of around 9 degrees! Thankfully this time we had a new camper to keep us warm. It was a much different experience than the first time and so much fun!









BOW Women’s Outdoor Weekend…

If you’ve never heard of BOW(Becoming an Outdoors Woman), then you need to Google it quick. There are programs in every state, usually hosted by your state Wildlife and Fisheries Department. They are put on each year and include lots of fun and informative classes on just about anything outdoors related in your area. Most of the instructors are volunteers with a passion for getting us ladies comfortable with being and doing outdoors sports and activities.

I’ve been lucky enough to go the past few years. I say lucky, because there is a cap limit in Louisiana of 125 women…so it’s a race to get forms filled and mailed and fingers crossed to get in. But I love it and always look forward to it each year.

Over the years I’ve taken Gun Safety, Rifle Marksmanship, Compass Skills, Map Skills, Canoeing, Kayaking, Camp Cooking, Fly Fishing, Wilderness Survival, Birdwatching, Reading the Night sky, and more. And a few I’ve taken more than once. It’s always fun no matter what I take and I always learn something!

Even though my husband and I are really outdoors type people and he teaches me a lot of outdoors things, it’s nice to have an environment where I can go learn and enjoy these things and meet new friends. Also, the moment I finished the Kayak class I knew my husband and I had to get boats! We bought our boats right after and have loved kayaking together ever since! It gets me trying things I might not have otherwise.

This years event was a couple of weekends ago and my favorite class was the Wilderness Survival. They gave us a small kit of items, and allowed us a couple other things from a list. We had to use these items to build a shelter and make fire for the night.
survival kit

Here’s a shot of our group of ladies before we headed out to the woods.
survival ladies

My Survival partner (Jean) and I. Such a cool lady and new friend I made. We hope to do more camping get togethers in the future.
jean

Our shelter along with a few others…
shelter

Boy was it a fun night, but we were oh so tired the next day. We had to spend the entire night keeping our fire going per instructions from the teacher. Luckily it wasn’t too cold for us, but it did get a bit chilly around 3am.

Another favorite was my camp cooking class, we were shown how to cook in cast dutch oven pots. YUM….the food was so good.

Bill Ryan our instructor
dutch

Making a Reuben Cassarole

Here’s my friend Angie from work who came to the camp with me. We got to make the pork loin with mandarin and cranberry sauce. It was *so* good!

Here’s our spread when we finished. The cake on the end was the best most moist cake ever.

In the end it was a wonderful fun weekend as always and I made new friends that I hope to get together with again soon. (Suzette, Myself, and Jean)
new friends

Take what you can get, moments

A couple weekends ago we got the chance to head up into the Kisachie Bayou Forest area again. We’ve only been to this portion of the forest a couple of times and we weren’t really able to explore it in depth. We generally spend a lot of time around the Fort Polk/Pitkin forest area and know most of the forest roads and trails and cool spots. So this gave us a chance to learn some of that about this area too.
Forest jeep

When you get up in this area you see alot more of the rock that was quarried around the Hodges Gardens area long ago. This rock isn’t really present in the lower Kisatchie area. Also this upper area is alot hillier. Jared turned one of the rocks over and found this little guy. Yes…we have scorpions too if you look close enough.
scorpion

We also stopped over by the Bayou campground to see how the water level looked. Much higher than it was when we visited in September for Cheyenne’s birthday trip. We even found a really cool camp spot for the next trip up there with her when it warms up. It has the perfect bayou overlook and white sandy dune…can’t wait.
bayou

Of course we had to get the shot of the jeep at the overlook area. I mean it’s not often anyone in Louisiana says they were at a vantage point overlooking the forest tops. LOL!
overlook

We made camp at the Red Bluff campsite which we had mostly to ourselves except for two young couples who camped down the trail a bit.
camp

And I got to test out my Optimus Crux stove and cookset that I got for Christmas! I really like the set, my only complaint is one I’ve seen mentioned before in reviews is that the stove tends to have trouble keeping a flame in cold weather. And when we woke up it was in the 20’s. Being that we do most of our camping during that type of weather I’m not sure if I’m going to end up with a different stove or find a way to make this one perform better in cold conditions.
optimus crux

optimus

We spent the last of our time there driving all over the forest roads and trails looking for new cool places to explore. We found a really great spot for some deep woods camping at a later date. It had a small swamp area nearby.
swamp

swamp

We also visited the Longleaf Vista trail again and much to my delight I found the Elliot blueberries are there and blooming!
elliot

We also had some fun climbing around on the rocky buttes…and got some much needed exercise.
~

rock

It was a quick trip, but definitely a fun one. It’s always the best day anytime I’m in the woods or outdoors with my hubby. It was so nice to have some one on one time with him doing the things we love.

How to choose a sleep pad for camping or backpacking

With so much rain around here the past couple of months there hasn’t been much adventuring. The only outdoor time we’ve had other than trying to get our Spring garden done is a drive out to Camp Claiborne for some R&R time in the woods this past weekend…as per request from Cheyenne who has been proclaiming for a while she “was ready to go to the woods and hike.” It was a beautiful day for a small fire, a little hike for her and Dad, and just plain old enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest.

In hopes of good weather in the future and hopefully some good trips as well, we have been trying to build on our gear. Now that the hubs and I have our backpacks and camp-stoves (thanks to Christmas gift giving), we are now thinking about what other gear we will need for our potential backpack adventures. He’s got a mummy bag so far for sleeping situations, but I’ve yet to acquire one. Something I’ve also been looking into to go along with this is a sleep pad. I’ve seen a few suggestions of good pads around the internet, but today I came across this article and found it had some good advice to consider and pass along.

Read on….
How to Choose a sleep pad for camping or backpacking

How to Fit a Backpack

I came across this really great article on how to fit a backpack. Since hubs and I are looking to get into some section hiking, we were really needing info like this. As you can see in my previous gift idea post I had a pack on my list. Well we did a little early gift opening and he got me my pack! And I also had gotten him one too 🙂 So now we can take these tips and try out our packs before we start planning our first outing with them!

How to Fit a Backpack/SectionHiker.com

How to Pack a Camp Kitchen

campPhoto from LibertyandLunch.com

Click to read article – How to Pack a Camp Kitchen

I really liked this article I came across showing how to pack a camp kitchen. Actually I’ve spent the whole night Saturday night and Sunday morning reading back in their website, it’s just that good. Some really cool folks who love to share info about the outdoors, cooking, and more. I’m addicted and it’s going on my daily read list.

As for the camp kitchen it pretty much mimics what our camp kitchen looks like. We’re not glam campers so we stick to the minimum most of the time. If it’s just the two of us camping/hiking we bring non perishable light foods. If we’re car camping as they call it then we will bring a small ice chest with some meat and veggies to cook up. They definitely cook much better looking camp meals than we do.

One thing is we haven’t done any serious multiday backpacking yet, and we don’t have a small pocket stove. But it’s definitely on the list…both the stove and the backpacking.

So go read the article, and peruse the rest of the site as well. Oh, they also have an article on packing a Backpacking Kitchen as well.

Arkansas Ozarks Part 2

On the next morning of our Arkansas trip, we woke up in Kyles Landing to temps in the 20’s and lots of frost. Very chilly but felt great.
Tent

When the morning sun came out it filled the canyon with a beautiful glow.

After breakfast we headed over to the trail head. Today the plan was to attack the Indian Creek trail. It’s not an official trail, but it’s well known to hikers and there’s lot of information to be found on it. It follows Indian Creek down about 2 1/2 miles to a spectacular feature called The Eye of the Needle. There’s also a bit more beyond it that goes to a waterfall, but we didn’t do this portion.

The beginning of the trail, starts off on the Buffalo River Trail.

Jared was itching to find caves…he wanted to inspect every hole he saw.

Where’s Waldo…do you see him?

I looked like a darn gypsy with all my layers hanging off my pack. I don’t have good lightweight winter gear yet. I had way too many layers, learned a lesson.

Gorgeous views of the rock features along the way.

One of the many obstacles. No going through it, so must go around it.

Areas like this one below don’t seem tricky, but they are. The rock has a layer of algae slime that’s thick and slippery as heck. I know…Which is one of the many warnings given about the danger of this trail. Slips, twisted ankles, and falls.

Not much of a trail as you can see…just follow the creek.

A couple of hikers caught up to us and luckily for us they’ve done this before a few times. I was starting to think we were never going to get there ( hush Jared…I know it aggravates you when I say that.)

When we got near the area going up to the Eye of the Needle there is a cave called the Arkansas Cave. It’s been closed due to the threat of white nose syndrome in the endangered Ozark big-eared bats and Indiana bats that are in there.

So instead of going into the cave and up and around, hikers have to traverse a rope up the cliff side and hike up into the Eye area. It’s extremely dangerous and you have to take your time and use caution. Do not attempt the hike alone! Excuse my butt shots…but I was glad hubs got pics of me getting up there. I was so nervous.

A shot of the Arkansas Cave

To get to this cutout opening took some doing. It would have been cool to get shots of me doing it, but Jared was too busy trying to keep an eye on me to make sure I made it over there ok. It’s basically a narrow rock ledge with a cut out drop off in it. You grip on to a couple of rocks in the side wall and walk your feet over to the next ledge. Then into this cut out and onto the other side.

A look back at the opening. There were a couple of young guys there before us and they were setting up camp up there.

Not done yet…but almost.

The Eye! Well…you can kinda see it.

Close up. I think there’s normally water flowing through it, but there’s been a drought the past year and half I was told. So most all the waterfalls are dry or running very slow.

After basking in our accomplishment we turned around and hiked back out 2 1/2 miles back to the camp ground. Then drove on to get our cabin for the next two nights. It felt good treating ourselves to a hot shower and cozy cabin after the hike. Even though it was a tough hike, I’m definitely looking forward to going back and doing it again. Maybe even make it further to the waterfall that is supposed to be beyond the Eye.

Wishlist for this outdoor girl…

wishlist

I know my husband has already done his Christmas shopping, but I thought a wish list post was in order anyway. Now I love my heels and jewelery just as much as the next girly girl…no doubt about it, but I love my outdoor gear too just as much. So I think my list gives a little of both.

1. This particular Kelty Coyote 75 pack is designed for women and has an adjustable suspension system. Would be the perfect size pack for a multi-day hike.

2. The gold Elk skull necklace, um…yea I figure if I’m gonna sport some bling out in the wilderness, why not this?

3. The Panasonic Lumix TS20 waterproof point n shoot has gotten some pretty good reviews, and lugging my big Canon 40D is sometimes a hassle. Not to mention kayaking and trying keep camera gear dry is a pain.

4. Light My Fire Titanium spork. Because we have learned the hard way that the spoon/fork/knife system we were using was too heavy really for such an item and a pain to clean up at the camp site.

5. The Eno Double Nest hammock…husband has one. It’s divine…I want my own. ’nuff said.

6. Gold Twig bracelet by OutfitAdditions. Very cute and my bracelet collection is missing something this vital.

7. LLBean Hunting boots (Duck boots as we’ve always called them). I’ve wanted a pair for so long. Perfect for rainy outings like short hikes or geocaching or just to sport around because I’m just that cool.

Cold Weather Survival Tips

Since it doesn’t really get that cold down south here in Louisiana, we tend to really not think twice about situations involving really cold weather. But there’s some really good tips here that should be remembered when you’re out camping/hunting/hiking or whatever it is you do outdoors during the winter.

Cold Weather Survival Tips.

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