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Bear Gap
February 18, 2007
For the third weekend in a row Cliff and I set out to explore a new scenic area and find a Geocache. I first learned of Bear Gap last Thanksgiving when Joey and I were bicycling back from the western end of Mount  Magazine and passed a small sign marking a trail to the spot. When I noticed on the Geocaching web site that a cache had been placed there and saw a few pictures of the rock formation, naturally it went high up of that list I keep in my head of places I must visit.
We left the house early and were in Paris by lunch. We went through the Taco Bell drive-through in Paris, and arrived at the parking spot at the gate across the road going to the western end of the mountain before noon.
It was a gorgeous sunny day with clear, deep-blue skies. Along the half-mile hike I tried to explain to Cliff how the conditions were due to an area of high barometric pressure we were under, and how we're always cycling through different weather conditions. (I've learned a lot about Arkansas weather since I got into photography!)
In less than fifteen minutes we were upon Bear Gap.
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Cliff started out in search of the Geocache while I climbed up on the natural rock wall to the left of the gap.
I got the best surprise in a long time. The southern side of the mountain just dropped away below the wall, and there were awesome views for 180 degrees. The top of the wall was very narrow, and it reminded me of the fin of rock at the top of Roark Bluff up above the Buffalo River. I straddled it and scooted close to the edge of the gap.
Cliff was having problems zeroing in on the Geocache, so he came up to join me.
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After taking a few pictures I went back down and helped him find the cache. There was a layer of snow in the shadows behind the wall; no doubt those spots don't see any direct sunlight in the winter. But the temperature was climbing fast, and this would be the snow's last day. I tried to take some close-up shots of the rapidly-melting snow on top of a mossy rock, using the new macro lens I got for Christmas, but the shots weren't so great and I threw them all away once I reviewed them at home.
On the hike back I could tell in one spot that the road was very close to the northern vertical face of the mountain. We followed a small wet drainage and met a wonderful frozen waterfall at least 30 feet wide.
We heard a hollow crash behind us and to the right, and discovered another ice-fall with large icicles, some 10 feet tall, just begging to be demolished with tossed rocks. We spent the next half-hour throwing stones at icicles in several locations along the tall bluffs. When we hit one just right, it would break off and fall anywhere from 30 to 60 foot before crashing down on the rocky surface below. It's the simple things!
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