Dec. 22, 2005
The sky was just starting to grow lighter, and the woods around us were still dark as night as we walked along a forest road in the Ouachita mountains. We had started our journey in the middle of the night and had driven half way across the state to be here now, and luckily Junie and I were early enough that we could go for a stroll in the chilly pre-dawn. I was about to play a dirty trick on her, because rather than let her come with me to the top of Flatside Pinnacle and the dangerous cliff there, I was going to leave her locked up in the car.

Flatside Pinnacle is half a hill sitting on top of a bigger hill. On one side the pinnacle has a steep but walkable slope, and on the other, half the peak has fallen away and left a vertical cliff maybe a hundred or so feet tall. The views to the east, south, and west are commanding, and the surrounding hilly terrain is quite a sight, especially to the east and west. And very much unlike the flat-topped hills of the Ozarks, the Ouachita mountains are quite often cone-shaped and pointy, or at least appear to be, as they are mostly very long narrow ridges running east and west that take on the aspect of peaks if you view them end-on.

The weather forecast had called for patchy fog and calm winds, perfect conditions for nice well-defined fog banks settled into low-lying areas, but as it turned out the wind was anything but calm, and on top of that cliff it was howling all the time I was up there. So instead of being dense and collected, the fog was blown all to perdition and hazy and diffuse. Still, that haze may have helped with the sunrise by cutting back on the brightness of the rising sun and helping to keep contrast in a more manageable range.

Afterward Junie and I drove westward along the Winona Scenic drive, stopping at all of the overlooks and eventually coming out onto Scenic Highway 7, where we turned north toward home. Along the way as I was looking for a good place to pull over and close my eyes for a 10 or 15 minute nap, we came upon an old CCC camp with a nice interpretive trail with informative stations along the way. All that was left of the buildings were the foundations, as all the useable materials had been salvaged when the CCC program ended and the camp was closed shortly after the advent of World War II, when all the young men who would have gone to the CCC went off to war or war industries instead.

Even though there wasn't much left besides the stone foundations, it was fun to imagine the camp as it was 65 or 70 years ago, with its rec hall and commander's quarters and classrooms, barracks, showers, water tank, infirmary, and kitchen and mess hall, and even a photography lab, which as you might imagine was of special interest to me. I wonder if they had a dog.

I'm afraid I'm going to make today's Back Light photo the third one in a row to come from a rainy fall day in 2002 along Lick Branch.