The day we left Lake D’Arbonne State Park, the warm weather also left the region. A cold front blew in, bringing first rain and later ice. It dropped the temperature more than 30 degrees from the amazingly warm weather we experienced in the prior days. We wanted nice weather for our visit to New Orleans, so we stopped at another campground on our way to wait out the storm. We chose a route through Mississippi to add another state to our trip, and ended up at Homochitto National Forest.
Rain pounded down on us for a majority of our stay at this National Forest, where we stayed one solitary night at a primitive campground and three nights at the developed Clear Springs Campground. Due to the weather, we spent most of the time warm and dry in the van, John working on his Raspberry Pi project and me knitting.
In addition to the inclement weather, another factor made the outdoors inhospitable. We could hear the sound of an engine in the distance revving and receding cyclically. At first we thought a vehicle was stuck in the mud, but the sound persisted for days. Finally on our second full day in the forest, we trekked out toward the sound to investigate. We couldn’t get very close because a river was in our way, and because it was getting late we did not have enough daylight to track the river to a bridge and still find our way back out of the woods before dark. From the riverbank vantage point, we could just make out a crane-like arm through the treetops, teeter-tottering up and down. I am pretty sure this is an oil rig, confirming the story I heard on the local NPR affiliate about the state increasing it’s fossil fuel production.
When we did venture outside for short hikes, there was a disturbing lack of wildlife. We saw a handful of birds scavenging around and some evidence of mammals – deer prints and a beaver-chewed tree, but we did not see a single squirrel. Throughout our trip there have been two constants everywhere we go: trees and squirrels. To be in a forest with no squirrels running around scolding us and burying nuts was disorienting. We left this forest having hardly explored it, chased away by the incessant sound of the oil rig in the background, which apparently also chased around the permanent forest inhabitants.