Ascent of Petit Jean Mountain-Northeast Bluff on 2010-10-06

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Summit:Car
Peak:Petit Jean Mountain-Northeast Bluff
    Elevation:1207 ft / 367 m

Ascent Trip Report

1207 ft.
Petit Jean Mountain

Wednesday, 10/6/2010

Arkansas has two mountains named Petit Jean. The HP of Conway County sits at a lower altitude of 1207ft, but it towers over 900ft above the river valley below. I had to drive through Petit Jean State Park to get there. But this one is worth the trip; I rate it a perfect 10 on Greg Slayden’s Peakbagger scale of ascent quality. Any HPer who is in the area should make an effort to visit.

The reason for the high rating is the magnificent view that is partnered with one of the most hospitable highpoint owners you are likely to meet. Both have been presented in previous trip reports, and I second the pleasure described by others.

I followed earlier trip reports and easily found the HP property. I will admit to a bit of nervousness as I drove along the long private drive that approaches the summit. As I passed the other residences, I wondered if each was my intended destination. Just follow the road to its end, at 39 Davies Drive.

When I arrived at the residence, I found some people working atop a log cabin-like structure. I asked if any of them were Mr. Davies; I was told he was in the nearby main house. I walked to the house and introduced myself to the man who came to the door and identified himself as the owner, Mr. Dave Davies. He invited me inside, and I told him why I came for the visit. He was not surprised; several had made a similar journey before me.

A short time later, Mr. Davies took me outside and escorted me to the HP benchmark, not far from the house and near the old barn. I took a couple photos of the BM, and then I ventured near the edge of the cliff that overlooks the Arkansas River that seemed so far below. The property sits high above its junction with the Petit Jean River. It was a clear day, and you could see several barges of goods being moved along the river. The river itself was wide, but I was impressed with the immensity of the entire river valley.

Looking back to the south/southwest, Mr. Davies pointed out some other distant landmarks, including Mount Magazine and the other Petit Jean Mountain. They were far away, and the view in their direction was restricted by the foggy, overcast skies.

We sat on a nearby bench, and Mr. Davies gave me a brief history of the property. His father bought the mountaintop in a depression-era fire sale. His father was a civil engineer. While others were interested in the most prime farm lands, the elder Mr. Davies liked the mountain, and he bought it for relative pennies on the dollar compared to what a true value might have been. His father eventually acquired 260 acres on top of Petit Jean Mountain.

The mountaintop was the site of a major surveying station back when a major land survey was conducted. A large surveying tower was built atop the land, and sightings were taken from here to numerous nearby survey points.

When the elder Mr. Davies passed away, the land was inherited by 3 children. Mr. Dave Davies got the 1/3 portion that included the HP. To add to the site’s natural beauty, he is now reassembling the log cabin that he bought in another state and had disassembled and shipped to him.

I inquired about the register that was left by Hans Hauenstein and described by other previous visitors. Mr. Davies was not sure where it was. I scanned the nearby barn, and I saw a round, PVC-like contraption that might be the register. With the aid of a hammer, I gently nudged the end cap off. Sure enough, it was the register! Surprisingly, the last person to sign in was Jerry Brekhus from 2007! I signed the register, resealed it, and returned it to a visible location in the nearby barn.

The visit with Mr. Davies lasted about 35-45 minutes. He welcomes future visitors, so I encourage all who can to make the journey while he is still alive. I would guess his age today to be late 70’s or early 80’s. If there is ever a HP landowner’s Hall of Fame, Mr. Davies should surely be included.

On my way from the HP, I stopped at the camp store for Petit Jean State Park. I got some refreshments and directions to the nearby Cedar Falls overlook. The overlook was spectator-less when I got there; in fact a work crew was busy stripping and re-staining the wood deck and rails. The falls were not running with great volumes of water; that flow varies depending on the recent levels of rainfall. The falls reminded me of several we have in Indiana in Clifty Falls State Park.

To leave the area, I opted to follow Hwy 154 east instead of west (the way I came). The drive from the west is more gentle; indeed, the cliffs were not evident until I was atop the mountain and looking down to the river valley below. The drive to the east takes you down the cliff side of the mountain. Near the river, I looked back, due north, to see the east end of Petit Jean Mountain. The mountain was impressive as I looked upon its rise of 900ft.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:17 ft / 5 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.4 mi / 0.7 km
    Route:Wandering around
    Trailhead:Parking near log cabin  1190 ft / 362 m
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:22 Minutes

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