A E T N Logo P B S logo
Support the Programs You LoveDONATE NOW

Exploring Arkansas September 2009

Loading the player…

Horseshoe Canyon Rock Climbing, Falcon Bottoms Natural Area, Bayou Bluff
One of the best places to go rock climbing east of the Rockies happens to be at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch near Jasper-and it's where we'll take you to conquer the rock ! Visiting one of the many Natural Areas under the protection of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission is a great way to explore a "wilder" version of the Natural State. Falcon Bottoms Natural Area near Magnolia with Bayou Dorcheat, offers a unique adventure in the state's original wild landscape. Bayou Bluff in the Ozark National Forest near Hector is one of those tucked away gems with picturesque bluffs, a cool mountain stream and breathtaking scenery.

TRANSCRIPT

ROCK CLIMBING HERE AT HORSESHOE CANYON RANCH NEAR JASPER HAS BECOME SOMEWHAT OF A CLIMBER'S MECCA HERE IN THE SOUTH AND WE'LL SHOW YOU WHY AND THEN WE'LL TAKE YOU TO MAGNOLIA AND FALCON BOTTOMS NATURAL AREA AND WE'LL CLOSE IT OUT AT PICTURESQUE BAYOU BLUFF NORTH OF HECTOR IN THE OWE ZACH NATIONAL FOREST SO FOR NOW HOW ABOUT WE CONQUER THE ROCK. YEAH.  [MUSIC].

MOVE MY FEET AROUND. FEET. JUST AS BIG OF A HOLE AS YOUR HAND WILL HOLD.  [MUSIC].

THAT'S JUST THE THRILL OF LEAD CLIMBING RIGHT THERE. THE THRILL OF LEAD CLIMBING RIGHT THERE. JUST BEING ABOVE YOUR PULL.  [MUSIC].

WITH MORE THAN 300 CLIMBING ROUTES ON NATURE'S MAGNIFICENT SKULTED ROCK HORSESHOE CANYON RANCH LOCATED SEVEN AND A HALF MILES NORTH OF JASPER ON HIGHWAY 74 IS CONSIDERED TO BE ONE OF THE BEST CLIMBING AREAS EAST OF THE ROCKIES.  [MUSIC].

PEOPLE COME FROM ALL OVER. SURE. IT'S A DESTINATION SPOT. IT'S BEAUTIFUL. EASY ACCESS. IT'S IN THE SHADE AS YOU CAN TELL LIKE FOR THE MOST PART UNTIL YOU CLIMB ABOVE THE TREES. AND THEN THERE ARE ROUTES THAT YOU CAN CLIMB IN THE SHADE EVEN THOUGH IT DOES GET HOT. SO IT'S JUST A GREAT CLIMBING SPOT.  [MUSIC].

A TOPNOTCH CLIMBER YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE TO ENJOY THE CLIMBING HERE AT HORSESHOE CANYON BEGINNER ROUTES ARE AVAILABLE EVEN FOR THE NO VIS OF NOVICES LIKE ME.  [MUSIC].

THE TRICK, TOO, IS FIND YOUR HANDS AND FIND YOUR FEET.  [MUSIC].

I STARTED CLIMBING BACK IN 2003 OR 2002. AND SPENT SOME TIME OUT WEST OUT IN PORTLAND, OREGON AREA AND OUT THERE IT'S JUST TEN MINUTES FROM THE APARTMENT IN EITHER DIRECTION THERE'S SOME GOOD CLIMBING. SO IT WAS EASY ACCESS. AND JUST KIND OF I DID IT MORE FOR CAMARADERIE AND BEING AROUND FRIENDS AND D DID IT FOR EXERCISE AND FOR THE EXCITEMEN EXCITEMENT.

IT IS DEFINITELY EXCITING.

YEAH, IT'S GOT A THRILL TO IT.

AND I GUESS THAT'S WHAT IT IS. IT'S THE RUSH OF -- YOU KNOW, THE CONQUERING A CHUNK OF ROCK I GUESS IS THE WHOLE PREMISE BEHIND IT.

YEAH,  THAT'S REALLY WHAT IT IS. IT'S THE CHALLENGE BETWEEN YOU AND THE ROCK. IT'S JUST KIND OF YOU'RE BATTLING UP AGAINST IT. AND YOU KNOW, EACH PERSON HAS THEIR OWN LIMITS. AND IT'S JUST YOU COULD SEE AND PUSH YOURSELF TO FIND OUT YOUR OWN LIMITS. AND THAT'S ALWAYS GOOD.

NOW,  EQUIPMENT OF COURSE IS THE KEY. THESE SHOES I DON'T KNOW WHO DESIGNED THE SHOES BUT YOU COULDN'T DO IT WITHOUT THE SHOES.

RIGHT.

I DON'T THINK.

YEAH. AS YOU NOTICE THE SHOES ARE SMALLER. AND THEY JUST REALLY ARE DESIGNED JUST TO GRAB THE ROCKS BETTER SO YOU CAN TOE IN. AND REALLY IS THE MAIN EQUIPMENT FOR SUCCESS ON YOUR CLIMB.

BESIDES THE ROPE.

YEAH, YOU NEED THAT, RIGHT?  [MUSIC].

I GOT INVOLVED WITH THIS PROBABLY SIX OR SEVEN YEARS AGO. A LOT OF MY FRIENDS WERE DOING IT IN A CLIMBING GYM AND THEY INVITED ME TO COME. AND I WAS A LITTLE SCARED BUT I REALLY WANTED TO DO SOMETHING NEW AND EXCITING. SO I STARTED CLIMBING WITH THE THEM. AND FOUND THAT IT WAS A LOT OF FUN. I WAS A LITTLE CONCERNED AT FIRST BECAUSE MY HANDS AREN'T REAL STRONG AND I DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF MUSCLE LIKE A LOT OF MY FRIENDS DID AND WHAT I FOUND WAS THAT THAT REALLY WASN'T IMPORTANT. ANOTHER THING WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL TALLER AND BIGGER THAN ME, YOU KNOW, I THOUGHT THAT I WOULDN'T BE AS GOOD. BUT WHAT I FOUND WAS IT'S REALLY NOT ABOUT STRENGTH OR SIZE. IT'S ABOUT TECHNIQUE. IT'S ABOUT USING YOUR LEGS AND IT'S REALLY ABOUT FIGURING OUT -- IT'S LIKE A PROBLEM. LIKE YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO NEXT. SO YOU HAVE TO USE YOUR MIND. ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS I LOVE ABOUT IT IS THAT IT CHALLENGES ME TO PUSH MYSELF BEYOND WHAT I THINK MY LIMITS ARE. AND THE GREATEST THRILL IS WHEN I AM FACED WITH AN AREA, YOU KNOW, WHERE I DON'T KNOW HOW I'M GOING TO MAKE THE NEXT MOVE. AND I WORK AT IT AND THINK ABOUT IT AND I FINALLY GET IT. AND THEN I ACTUALLY MAKE IT. IT'S JUST THE GREATEST THRILL EVER. IT'S SUCH A FEELING OF ACCOMPLISHMENT. AND SUCCESS. SO EVERYBODY DOES IT AT THEIR OWN LEVEL. AND EACH PERSON HAS THEIR OWN GOALS AND CHALLENGES AND I JUST LOVE IT.

I GUESS THAT'S WHY PEOPLE TRY AND CLIMB MT. EVEREST.

THAT'S RIGHT. THAT'S RIGHT. I COULD SEE WHERE, YOU KNOW, THE FURTHER YOU GO ALONG, YOU JUST WANT TO DO MORE AND MORE. AND I KNOW WITH EACH LEVEL THAT I AM ABLE TO ACHIEVE, THEN I'M READY FOR THE NEXT ONE. SO I'M NOT READY FOR MT. EVEREST YET, THOUGH.  [MUSIC].

YOU KNOW, I CLIMB BECAUSE IT'S HARD TO DESCRIBE IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE IT. BUT ONCE YOU DO IT ONE TIME YOU GO:  OH, THAT'S WHY THEY DO THIS. BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE SAID:  THAT'S CRAZY. WHY WOULD YOU DO IT AND YOU LET THEM DO IT ONE TIME AND THEY ARE LIKE:  OKAY, I GET IT. IT'S THE PEOPLE. IT'S BEING OUTDOORS. IT'S DOING SOMETHING THAT'S A LITTLE BIT RISKY OR DIFFERENT. AND THE CAMARADERIE, THE CLIMBING COMMUNITY IS GENERALLY JUST REALLY COOL PEOPLE. TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. TAKE CARE OF THE LAND. YOU KNOW, WHICH IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. TAKING CARE OF THESE CLIMBING AREAS. NOW, AS FAR AS --

AS FAR AS THE PERSON'S PHYSICAL ABILITY, IS IT MORE ON THE FEET OR IS IT MORE ON THE HANDS OR WHAT DO YOU THINK?

IT'S MORE IN THE MIND. SOME OF THE STRONGEST CLIMBERS I'VE EVER SEEN WERE FEMALES THAT DIDN'T SHOW ANY SIGNS OF MUSCLE. IT'S REALLY ALL IN THE MIND. I MEAN, IT DOESN'T HURT TO HAVE SOME MUSCLES AND NICE BIG FOREARMS. BUT MORE TIMES THAN NOT WHAT GETS YOU UP A CLIMB IS GOING TO BE YOUR MIND. AND SECONDLY IT'S GOING TO BE YOUR LEGS. IF YOU RELY ON YOUR ARMS, YOU CAN FORGET IT. YOU'RE GOING TO BE PUMPED AND YOU'LL BE HALFWAY THROUGH IT, IT'S ALL IN THE MIND.

CAN I HAVE LIKE WHAT I THOUGHT.

AND YOU'VE GOT TO KEEP MOVING. STAYING STATIONERY IS A KILLER. YOU HAVE TO KEEP MOVING. THAT'S THE KEY.

YEAH,  GOT TO KEEP MOVING. I'LL BE SURE AND REMEMBER THAT THE NEXT TIME SINCE I KIND OF GOT STUCK HALFWAY UP THE ROCK. SOMEBODY, ANYBODY, PRY ME OFF.  [MUSIC].

THEY NOT ONLY GOT TIRED, THEY GOT SWEATY.  [BACKGROUND NOISE.]

FALCON BOTTOMS NATURAL AREA NEAR MAGNOLIA WITH DORCHEAT RUNNING THROUGH IT THIS IS AN UNDISTURBED AREA COMPLETE WITH RARE SPECIES AND VARIED PLANT COMMUNITY. A WONDERFUL PLACE TO EXPLORE. I SEE SOME FISH OVER THERE, TO TOO. LET'S GO.  [MUSIC].

IT'S A SMALL AREA. IT'S A SMALL WILDERNESS AREA. IT'S 3,000 ACRES RIGHT NOW. AND IT'S ONLY ABOUT A MILE WIDE BECAUSE IT GOES ALONG THE BAYO BAYOU. AND OF COURSE THAT'S WHERE ALL OF THE OLD GROWTH FOREST IS STILL LEFT BECAUSE IT WAS HARD TO HARVEST BACK IN THE OLD DAY DAYS. AND DEFINITELY NOW WITH ALL OF THE HEAVY EQUIPMENT. BUT IT'S A SMALL WILDERNESS AREA. THAT THE INTENTION IS TO PROTECT THE TREES AND THE ANIMAL SPECIES AND THE BIRDS. BUT SOME RECREATION IS ALLOWED. BUT YOU HAVE TO WALK IN. AND SO LIMITED RECREATION. THIS PLACE WILL ONLY SUPPORT LIMITED RECREATION. IT'S NOT FOR THE FEINT OF HEAR HEART. BECAUSE OF -- THERE'S EVERYTHING HERE FROM RATTLE SNAKES TO ALLIGATORS.

HUGE MOSQUITOS.

HORSE FLIES. THE BUT IT'S GREAT FOR STUDY.  [MUSIC].

SARAH JOHNSON IS QUITE FAMILIAR WITH THIS NATURAL ARE AREA. SHE SPENT MOST OF HER LIFE ENJOYING IT WITH HER GRANDFATHER BEFORE DONATING A GOOD PORTION OF IT TO THE ARKANSAS NATURAL HERITAGE COMMISSION.  [MUSIC].

I GUESS THAT WAS MY DREAM FROM AS EARLY AS I CAN RECALL TO PROTECT THIS AREA, WHATEVER WAY I COULD. AND I GREW UP HERE WITH MY GRANDFATHER. HE ACTUALLY BOUGHT A LOT OF THE LAND DOWN HERE FOR 25 CENTS AN ACRE BACK IN THE '20S. AND SOLD IT AND OF COURSE I WAS RAISED HERE SO HE ALWAYS -- HE HAD A MULE TEAM AND HE TOOK ME LOGGING WITH HIM SO I LOVED THIS PLACE BECAUSE I KNEW IT LIKE THE BACK OF HIS HAND SO I WANTED TO SAVE IT FOR HIM BECAUSE IT'S A BEAUTIFUL PLACE AND SOMETHING HE LEFT. AND THIS IS WHERE THEY USED TO COME PICNIC IN THE SUMMER. THEY WOULD GET IN A WAGON AND BRING IT UP HERE AND PICNIC AND SWIM.  [MUSIC].

NATURAL AREAS PROTECT THE LAST REMNANTS OF ARKANSAS'S ORIGINAL WILD LANDSCAPE.

THIS IS THE ONLY SPOT THIS SIDE OF THE MISSISSIPPI OR WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI THAT HAS THE WATER LOG. IT'S AN ALMOST EVERGREEN TREE SO IT KEEPS THE LEAVES MOST OF THE YEAR AROUND THERE'S SPARKLE BERRY WHICH IS REALLY HUCKKLE BERRY THERE'S A LOT OF HUCKKLE BERRY AND THERE'S WILD AZALEAS AND DOG WOODS AND ORCHIDS AND CHERRY BARK OAK AND CAL OAK. IT'S JUST A REAL DIVERSE SPECIES OF TREES HERE AND A LOT OF DIFFERENT KIND OF LANDSCAPES, TOO.

THIS NATURAL AREA IS ALSO CALLED DORCHEAT BAYOU FROM THE LOCALS BECAUSE OF THE BAYOU THAT RUNS THROUGH IT AND IS CONSIDERED TO BE ONE OF THE MOST INTACT AND IMPORTANT STREAMS WEST OF THE OUACHITA RIVER.

IT BEGINS UP AT PRESCOTT. AND -- WHICH IS ONLY ABOUT MAYBE 20 MILES FROM HERE. IT BEGINS SOMEWHERE UP IN THE HILLS BACK IN PRESCOTT WHAT LITTLE HILLS THERE ARE. BUT THERE ARE SOME HILLS THERE. AND IT FLOWS THROUGH HERE ALL THE WAY TO LAKE DISTINO  IN FREEPORT AND LAKE DISTINO OF COURSE IS RIGHT ON THE RED RIVER AND THIS PLACE IS CALLED DORCHEAT BECAUSE I DID SOME RESEARCH AND FOUND IT IN ONE OF THE BOOKS SOMEWHERE THAT DORCHEAT WAS REALLY THE ORIGINAL NAME OF IT MEANT IT WAS FRENCH INDIAN WORD CALLED DACHE. AND IT MEANS BEAR GNAWING ON A LOG BECAUSE THE FIRST TIME THEY EVER -- THE EXPLORERS, I CAN'T REMEMBER WHICH EXPLORER IT WAS, THE FIRST TIME THEY ENCOUNTERED DORCHEAT, THERE WAS A BEAR GNAWING ON A LOG. SO THEY NAMED IT DACHE AND IT GOT MISPRONOUNCED OVER THE YEARS TO THE WORD DORCHEAT. WELL, YOU KNOW, I THOUGHT THAT WAS SOME PRETTY INTERESTING HISTORY.

I SEE SOMETHING JUMPING AROUND IN THERE. I GUESS THERE IS -- IT'S STOCKED PRETTY GOOD WITH FISH HERE. I GUESS YOU HAVE FISHED HERE.

I HAVE IN THE PAST YEARS AGO. SURPRISINGLY IT HAS A GOOD STOCK OF CRAPPY AND BASS AND SOME OTHER SPECIES LIKE CATFISH AND GOGGLE EYE AND ALSO HAS A REALLY UNIQUE FISH A STRAWBERRY BROWN WHICH IS REALLY PRETTY. IT LOOKS LIKE A STRAWBERRY IT'S SO RED. SO IT HAS A LOT OF THOSE.

THE FIRST TRACT OF LAND TO BECOME FALCON BOTTOMS NATURAL AREA WAS ACQUIRED IN 1991. ADDITIONAL TRACTS WERE ADDED DURING THE '90S THEN ACQUISITIONS FROM 2000 TO 2003 ENABLED THE MARK NATIONAL HERITAGE COMMISSION TO LINK OLD BOTTOM LAND HABITAT BUT ACCORDING TO SARAH THE JOB HERE IS NOT FINISHED.

ALL OF THE DORCHEAT BAYOU IS PROTECTED BY A NATIONAL PROVISION CALLED THE NATIONAL SEATING RIVERS AND MY DREAM IS TO SEE THE ARKANSAS PORTION OF DORCHEAT BAYOU BY THE NATIONAL SCENIC RIVER IT WOULD HAVE TO BE CLAIMED AS A NATIONAL SCENIC RIVER AND WITH THAT DESIGNATION IT WOULD BE FULLY PROTECTED. RIGHT NOW IT'S NOT FULLY PROTECTED.

SO IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE A WILDER VERSION OF ARKANSAS,  PAY A VISIT TO ONE OF THE MANY NATURAL AREAS IN THE NATURAL STATE. A COMPLETE LIST CAN BE FOUND AT NATURALHERITAGE.COM. BUT TAKING A DIP IN THE SWAMP WATER, LIKE OUR INTERN TREVIN BYRD, IS NOT ADVISABLE. BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN A WATER MOCCASIN MIGHT DECIDE TO JOIN YOU.  [MUSIC].

BAYOU BLUFF NORTH OF HECTOR IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF THOSE WELL KEPT SECRET AREAS BY THE LOCALS WE DECIDED IT WAS HIGH TIME WE CAME HERE AND CHECKED IT OUT FOR OURSELVES ESPECIALLY SINCE THE FISHING IS SUPPOSED TO BE PRETTY GOOD HERE IN THE ILLINOIS BAYOU RIVER SO LET'S GO DO A LITTLE EXPLORING.  [MUSIC].

YEAH, IT'S ONE OF THE FOREST'S LITTLE HIDDEN GEMS IT ONLY HAS SEVEN CAMPS UNITS TWO UP ON THE TOP AND THE REST DOWN HERE. IT HAS CCC CONSTRUCTED PAVILION AND ALSO GOT SOME CABINS THAT SHELTER YOU. A LOT OF THE LOCALS USE IT. WE GET QUITE A BIT OF BUSINESS ON THE WEEKENDS. IT'S GOT A FEW PUDY HOLES AROUND IT ON THE ILLINOIS BAYOU SO IT'S A POPULAR PLACE ESPECIALLY WHEN THE HEAT GETS UP AND THE HUMID AND YOU WANT TO GET A LITTLE RELIEF FROM THAT.  [MUSIC].

LOCATED SIX MILES NORTH OF HECTOR OFF HIGHWAY 27, BAYOU BLUFF IS A WONDERFUL PLACE TO CAMP. THERE ARE SEVEN FAMILY CAMPING UNITS, THREE OF WHICH HAVE HISTORIC CIVILIAN CONSERVATION SHELTERS THAT WERE BUILT BY THE WORKERS ON PROJECTS LIKE THIS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY BACK DURING THE 1930S.

WELL,  WHAT YOU HAVE IS A TYPICAL RECREATION AREA THAT THE CCC WPA BUILT. THE STONEWORK IS VERY TYPICAL OF THE WORK THAT THEY DID. THE SHELTER WAS VERY TYPICAL OF THAT KIND OF CONSTRUCTION BUILT IN THE LATE 1930S BY THOSE FOLKS THAT WERE HERE. ALL OF THE ROCK WORK THAT YOU SEE HERE, ALL OF THE STONE STAIRWAYS, ALL OF THE ROCK WALLS, ALL OF THE BUILDINGS, VERY TYPICAL OF THE RUSTIC TYPE OF ARCHITECTURAL STYLE THAT THEY USED. AND IT'S JUST VERY TYPICAL OF WHAT THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS DID IN THIS AREA.  [MUSIC].

WHAT IS SO IMPRESSIVE ABOUT THE WORK THAT THE CCC ACCOMPLISHED IS NOT ONLY THE LONGEVITY OF WHAT THEY HAVE BUILT BUT THE SUPERB QUALITY OF THE CRAFTSMANSHIP.

YEAH,  THEY HAD SOME REALLY, REALLY GOOD STONE MASONS AND THEY'VE HAD SOME REALLY GOOD CARPENTERS THAT KNEW HOW TO WORK WITH LOG STRUCTURES AND DID REALLY WELL. AND IT'S JUST AMAZING. AND THIS IS JUST ANOTHER EXAMPLE ON THIS FOREST OF THAT KIND OF WORK.  [MUSIC].

A VISIT TO BAYOU BLUFF WOULDN'T BE COMPLETE WITHOUT DOING A LITTLE EXPLORING ALONG THE 1.2 MILE LOOP HIKING TRAIL THAT WILL TAKE YOU ALONG THE AREA'S PICTURESQUE BLUFF OVERLOOKING THE ILLINOIS BAYOU RIVER AND FEATURING SOME SPECTACULAR AND BREATH TAKING SCENERY.

YEAH,  IT GOES -- STARTS HERE ON THE LOWER LOOP AND GOES RIGHT ALONG THE ILLINOIS BAYOU AND THEN IT CIRCLES BACK AROUND AFTER ABOUT A HALF A MILE AND COMES BACK OUT OF THE UPPER LOOP AND THEN THERE'S A TRIAL THAT COMES OUT OF THE UPPER LOOP DOWN TO THIS AREA.

I GUESS SOME PRETTY GOOD VIEWS FROM THE TRAIL.

YEAH, THERE SHOULD BE SOME PRETTY GOOD VIEWS ALTHOUGH WITH ALL OF THE GREENERY IT MIGHT BE A LITTLE HARDER TO SEE BUT YEAH THERE'S OPENINGS ALONG THERE WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE WATER.  [MUSIC].

WE MENTIONED EARLIER ABOUT THE FISHING IN THE ILLINOIS BAYOU RIVER ALTHOUGH I REALLY DIDN'T GET ANY VISIBLE PROOF ON MY LINE THERE ARE LARGE AND SMALL MOUTH BASS IN THIS RIVER ALONG WITH SPOTTED BASS. MAYBE YOU'LL HAVE A LITTLE BIT BETTER LUCK THAN I DID AND BE ABLE TO LAND ONE OF THEM. THERE ARE USER FEES AT THIS RECREATION AREA REGULAR CAMPSITES ARE $7 PER DAY DURING THE SUMMER AND $4 IN THE WINTE WINTER. A CAMPSITE WITH ONE OF THE STONE SHELTERS IS A $10 SUMMER FEE AND 7 IN THE WINTER. AND THAT'S NOT BAD. CONSIDERING WHAT THIS AREA HAS TO OFFER AS FAR AS SCENIC BEAUTY WITH A PRISTINE PICTURESQUE RIVER RUNNING THROUGH IT.  [MUSIC].

SO CHECK OUT BAYOU BLUFF FOR YOURSELF NORTH OF HECTOR IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST AND FOR MORE ON THIS DESTINATION PLUS MANY OF OUR OTHERS AND TO VIEW OUR MAPS OR TO ORDER A COPY OF AN EPISODE, VISIT OUR WEB SITE AETN.ORG/EXPLORIN AETN.ORG/EXPLORINGARKANSAS AND WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN THE NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON "EXPLORING ARKANSAS".  [MUSIC]

AETN.org > Programs > Exploring Arkansas > Exploring Arkansas September 2009