Petit Jean Mountain: Seven Hollows Trail

Petit Jean—–3/22/2011

The calm stillness of the mountain

Coupled with a silence broken only

By the sound of the wind rustling

Leaves and my voice as I speak to

Sie about the secrets of the wind

 

I hiked the Seven Hollows Trail on Petit Jean Mountain. It’s a trail I’ve been wanting to do for years but hadn’t made the time to go. My nephew, Daulton, and I took to the trail mid-morning. I had planned everything out the night before but I wasn’t packed. It was going to be a good hike on a nice spring day. I had requested a wake up call and set an alarm for 7:30am. The wakeup call was right on time.

That’s when I received news my sleep fuddled brain couldn’t comprehend.

 

“Who’s here? Why so early, didn’t he have stuff to do?” I asked.

 

They couldn’t understand me. So I said it again. They still didn’t understand and told me to talk to them after I got some coffee. I don’t speak clearly when I first wake up. Half of me is still in DreamLand while my brain is forming coherent thoughts, yet I can’t walk a straight line and run into walls. I detest waking up, so please don’t speak to me before coffee.

 

I made it inside the main house, poured coffee after blearily locating my cup, added creamer, stirred, and sipped. Grimacing, I stomped to the microwave to heat it. Breakfast was oatmeal. But first I needed coffee. Daulton came in the door bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to hike. I was only ready to sip coffee.

 

“Hey.” I mumbled into coffee. And a conversation began. I tried to remember my manners and was courteous but it was difficult work since I was up earlier than usual without the recommended dosage of caffeine easing the grumpy into happy. Halfway through the cup, I felt awake enough to try a conversation.

 

“Donte can’t make it, he’s sick. Are you sure you’re up for this trail?” I asked.

 

Daulton smiled, “I’m ready.”

 

“It’s 4.5 miles and it’s a moderate to hard trail. Should be ups and downs.”

 

“I got this this is going to be easy.”

 

“Okay then, I gotta get a few things together and get gas.” I left the table to check on my batteries and SD card for the camera. I’m starting a side project and was going to film some spots on the trail. At my apartment, I grabbed my things. Day pack, wallet, granola, keys, Kibble for the dog, put the cat outside (to Polly’s dismay), and slipped on hiking boots.

 

Daulton, Cinders, and I finally made it to Petit Jean and parked at the Seven Hollows Trail Head. Cinders complained about my driving the entire way. Eventually,  you ignore the backseat whiners.

We got out, made sure we had our gear when I realized I forgot Cinders water bottle with attached bowl. Well, we’d have to make do. She could drink my water. I could pour it in a depression on a rock if there was no water on the trail. I was expecting water because we’ve had a lot of rain this season.

The trail itself was sandy starting out with green and trees all around.  With the camera rolling, I set off, anxious to explore this piece of Petit Jean.  Saplings and flowers lined the trail as wasps, bumble bees, and gnats buzzed. Not even a mile into the trail my camera stopped recording. “Card full,” it said. I stomped my foot, turning it off. Something had told me to bring the spare SD card…. Well I had a cell phone, time to use that. After 2 minutes of video it too had a full memory. That should teach me to always bring the spare card.

We hiked up hills, down the other side, crossed streams. Cinders saw a squirrel. Standing on her hind legs, she lunged forward desperately wanting to chase. The rule is “All dogs must be on leashes.” So on the leash she stayed, to the annoyance of her hunting instinct. We crossed a stream right after this, stepping across the rocks.

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Thinking we were done when we reached the top of yet another hill, Daulton and I rallied.  

“Almost there!” I called out, winded from the climb. Then, I saw the sign, “3.5 miles.” It felt like we’d already been the 4.5 miles since we skipped going to the Grotto. The trail held beautiful vistas, hidden dells and surprises in every hollow.

On the trail there are a few landmarks to watch for: Natural Bridge, The Grotto, and the Growing Rock. It’s difficult to describe the views at each point but I plan to go back and record each one for that side project I mentioned.

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Daulton and I eventually made it back to the car with several rest stops. It took a good four hours to complete but I was able to immerse myself in nature, resetting my mind, and experiencing the wilderness. Life is meant to be experienced.

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