A Day with The Devil

Trip Start Mar 14, 2012
Trip End Mar 15, 2012

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Where I stayed
Campsite # 11

Flag of United States  , Arkansas
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

After a grueling overnight drive, we arrived at Devil's Den State Park around 5:30am.  We grabbed a campsite right on the bank of Lee's Creek and quickly set up so we could grab a well deserved nap. 
Not wanting to sleep the day away we regrouped and decided to join a ranger led, 1.5 mile loop hike of the main Devil's Den area.  The hike was cool and well shaded under the dense trees that were just starting to bud for the spring, and very informative for our young kids.  There are many caves and crevices throughout the area.  These caves are home to millions of bats.  The caves are closed due to "White-Nose Syndrome"; a fungus that has wiped out bat colonies throughout many of the caves from the Northeast down through Appalachia.  Some believe the fungus may be transported from cave to cave via caving equipment used by spelunkers.  The closures are to hopefully keep the syndrome from wiping out the local bats. We respected the closures, but still were able to marvel at the the random cracks and holes in the ground throughout the area.  These caves are pretty unique in the way they were formed in sandstone.  Most caves are limestone and are formed by internal running water.  These caves were formed as the creek eroded away a layer of shale that was exposed when the area was raised many years ago.  The brittle shale under-layers eroded away and the sandstone upper-layers collapsed on one another or split apart creating the caves and crevices.  Standing at the mouth of the caves feel like standing in front of the freezer with the door open.  Legend says that a man living in these parts long ago, noticed "smoke" coming out of one of the caves.  Thinking there might be a fire he decided to explore.  He noticed the "smoke" was cold, so he traveled into the cave deeper and deeper searching for the source of this cold "smoke".  The "smoke" was in fact the cold air leaving the cave hitting the warm air causing a fog, but the only thing the man could think is that the further he traveled into the earth, that the unexplainable cold "smoke" must be the gates of hell so as he told the story, the name "Devil's Den" stuck.
We were lucky enough to have a clear night with tons of stars out.  I had never photographed the stars before, but figured it was as good a night as any to give it a try.  It took a few shots to get the camera right, but I managed a few good images one of which included a shooting star.  We slept soundly, exhausted from the previous nights drive and our busy day on the trail.  I wish we had a few more days to continue exploring this area, but we may have to plan a longer stay the next time we are through as the park had great sights and hikes.  If you are in the area, check it out!
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