Lake Ouachita State Park – Caddo Bend Trail Pt 1 Continued: As I traverse the tip of the peninsula the wind pushes my body as I balance on the narrow trail. At once I am transformed, a mountain goat perched on the side of the cliff one with the Earth, Trees, Wind and the small Birds singing above me. I look out over the water and want to know what is on the island that is so tantalizingly close. A tiny dark eyed Junco appears on a branch high above me, it turns it’s head as a gust of wind ruffles both our feathers. The narrow trail undulates light a serpent above the water and finishes in a steep rise through a rocky maze.
The winter Sun is lower barely hovering at the tops of the Trees casting long shadows across the land on the north side of the peninsula. This is a different landscape than what I saw this morning. Dense sleeping Trees populate the slopes, it is not as open and light as the sparse Pine Forest on the south side of the trail. I can already imagine the green that will explode throughout this wooded area of the park. This is a mixed Forest that includes Red Bud, Dogwood and Wild Plum Trees. I will be back for the floral show this coming spring, a Tree Bud on the trial edge indicates it might be an earlier than I thought.
As I wind through the Rocky Forest trail I notice in the distance a wood bridge, it is a wonderful sight. Although it is on the map its form was unknown until I arrive at this point on the trail. Stepping on to the boards I pause to enjoy the peace of the moment and look out over the water. Closing my eyes I can hear rippling Lake as it caresses the rocks, I breath to the rhythm of the water. It is wonderful to walk on a smooth surface suspended above the earth. Not long after I leave the bridge the trail winds back into the Forest and away from the water. It is in this dense and darker Forest I believe I am being followed, not by a human. I am not afraid, it is only a Forest creature that is curious about my movements through their home. I think it might be Coyote as it sounded low and paw like as if a dog were following me in the distance. Padding softly across the leaves my ghost follows me until the trail heads back toward the water.
Soon I can see the water and the trail now takes me along a rise above the Lake. The breaks between the Pine Trees create a flicker show of light and water. It is peaceful in the sparkling light. The trail drop down to pass a beach and I leave the path to walk on the Sand spread out before me. The Rocky Sand glitters in the sunlight and is dotted with an assortment of white shells. From here I can clearly see the Lake often hidden from view when I was hiking on the trail. I look around with the hopes I will find a deck chair to sit on at the water edge. This is a beautiful spot for meditation.
I reluctantly leave the beach and head back up to the trail and enjoy the view as it winds along the beach edge. Looking down from a rise I see another bridge in the distance, this is wonderful surprise as it is not mentioned on the map I picked up at the tourist center. This is longer and newer than the previous one I encountered earlier on my hike. It is another beautiful view location and in spring and autumn will be a favorite photography location. As I cross this bridge and hear my foot fall and I realize each board resonates a different tone as if I am play a muted Xylophone. It makes me wonder if that is what drew a woodland creature to follow me after I crossed the last bridge. The sound although not loud would be a signal that something new has entered the Forest. Each time I cross a wood bridge I will place close attention to the sounds that emanate from the within the Trees along the Trail.
For the next mile and a half the trail winds into and out of the forest crossing 2 dirt/grassy roads. For half a mile I am in a mixed Forest along a rise above the lake, a light breeze feel divine. As the trail winds into the forest on its way toward the Campground I spot a flash of white. Moving as quietly as I can across the crunchy autumn leaves I soon see the source of the white. Ahead of me are two Whitetail Does one is eating oblivious to my presence the other turns to face me. She stomps her hooves and turns to flash her white tail at me in protest and to warn the other Doe. Although I am getting her message the other Doe carries on as if I am not here. I am so use to the Deer on Hot Springs National Park running away this is an unexpected experience.
As I near the end of the trail I see a bright flash of orange crisscrossing the trail. For a brief moment it lands, a beautiful Angelwing Butterfly is escorting me to the end of my journey at Lake Ouachita State Park. Stepping off the trail I look up and see a Turkey Vulture flying over as a farewell. Although I completed the entire trail you can do it in segments and still enjoy all the beautiful places I have mentioned in this blog.
Thank You for hiking with me… Much Love to ALL,