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Ouachita Mountains
November 5, 2009
It was freezing when I woke up in the back of the Tahoe! Actually, the temperatures were in the low 40s, but I wasn't used to such cool air. I made coffee and got dressed, and hiked in the dark to the top of Flatside Pinnacle. I found an overlook with a view to the east toward Lake Maumelle and Pinnacle Mountain. Once it got light I could tell that the peak of fall colors had come and gone, but the browns and greens in the rolling hills immediately beneath me were still a gorgeous site in the red light of the new day.
After the sun rose above the distant mountains, I hurried over to the bluff overlook on the west side of the peak. What an awesome scene!  The sun lit up the top of Forked Mountain, which rose up above a blanket of fog in the valley of the South Fourche La Fave River. All of this was topped off with a soft pink sky.
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I put the camera away and hiked back down to the Tahoe, then drove down to Forked Mountain. I followed the directions in Tim Ernst's Arkansas Waterfalls guidebook and parked at a primitive campsite next to a scenic overhanging bluff. Then I hiked to Forked Mountain Falls. The cascade was running well but was partially covered in bright sunlight so there was no way I could get a decent picture of it. I searched for, and found, a geocache that I'd stored in my GPS receiver years ago.
Since I was in the area, I followed the guidebook directions to another waterfall, Twist Cascade. It was certainly worth the hike but once again bad lighting prevented me from taking any photos. I was able to follow Little Cedar Creek all the way back to the Tahoe.  I wanted to check out several noisy cascades I'd heard from the hillside above during the hike in. None of them were especially scenic. Back at the Tahoe I changed into some dry pants and socks and had lunch By then I felt like I'd had my fill of hiking for a while and decided to spend the remainder of the day mostly driving around.
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I drove west to Highway 7. Right before County Road 39 met the highway, it passed over Bear Creek. The view upstream was pretty nice, even in the harsh sunlight, so I had to stop and snap some pictures
I had a bunch of time to kill so I drove back to Highway 7, crossed it and drove about 10 miles along the Winona Scenic Drive. I stopped and took a short nap at the Forked Mountain overlook. I rolled down the windows to let in some fresh air and the noise of the wilderness, then I got out, climbed in back and lowered the rear hatch. It was so peaceful! When I got woke up I felt like just laying there a while, but knew I needed to get up and get going. Though first I boiled some water on the Trangia stove and made a fresh cup of Folgers Singles coffee.
I drove to the Crystal Vista overlook to see how the view was from there, and decided the scene wasn't all that promising for the sunset. I headed back west in the direction of Ouachita Pinnacle. There was a lot of really nice backlit colors in the late afternoon, but I was in too much of a hurry to try to shoot anything until I came upon a stand of pine trees over a field of tall golden grass being lit up by the low sun.
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I sped on to Ouachita Pinnacle and barely made it before the sun set. My view of the sinking sun was partially blocked by some tree limbs, and the clouds weren't all that colorful, but I went ahead and took a few photos. The view of Lake Ouachita after the sunset was really nice, and I bet the location would be good for sunsets later in the winter when the sun is farther south.
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