( About a climb)

She stands there all alone, majestic, bold and lovely

Her very existence is intimidating​

I stare at her in awe,  wrapped up in her beauty, frightened by the same

She seems unapproachable, can't fathom being with her

Can't  imagine she'll even let me try


Courage builds in my soul, my mind sharp with creativity

The long walk to her, nervous hands I find

Second thoughts enter, I push them aside

I've been dying to meet her, It's in her I'll confide

All my strengths, all my weakness, all trepidation, she'll see them all

Can't hide a thing from her, I'll be exposed

And she'll have control


So here I am before you, asking for a chance

Will you let me see the world you live in

Can we take this Sacred Dance


Just as I expected, just as I had dreadfully planned

Your to much for me, too much for this small man

So back to the drawing boards

Back to study you again

But not as something to conquer

But as a poem, a love letter, a beautiful woman

This time I've got a plan

I'll make myself stronger, she won't be able to resist

I'll make myself quicker, lighter, smarter, but still remaining poised

I have to be graceful, because she deserves more than a thuggish brute

I have to be respectful, because she has stood the test of time

I have to be calm in my demeanor

And I have to be generous with what's mine

Because she deserves more than a fleeting romance

I'm hoping for another chance


So all my hoping, all my dreaming

All my hours spent thinking of you

All my caring, all my sharing

Today I'm hoping my dreams come true

So here I am again asking for another chance

Here I am again asking for this Sacred Dance


Going through the motions, movement like a ballet

Sharp banter between us, we're even starting to play

She's opening up her world, revealing herself to me

All her strengths and weaknesses are so complimentary

What she wants, I want and nothing more

Seems like I'm floating above the ground floor

So much like a beautiful ballet, thought provoking,

Like a chess match, I like to play

Every time I'm confused, she opens up the way

Every time I'm drained, she reminds me to stay

Take a deep breath, calm all your nerves

I love her imperfections, I like her little curves

The way my hand feels when I touch her

The scent of her being, flowing through the air

Can't think of anything else at the time

I stop for a moment and just stare

I take in everything around me

The trees, the sky, the sounds of wind and water

In her beautiful majestic stature, nothing compares

So here I am, a small man with not much to offer

But I give you recognition, admiration, honesty, because I have to be honest with myself

I give you devotion, respect, and everything else

Because you taught me what discipline, devotion, determination, and desire are all about

I will give them all back to you

And I will tell generations of your beauty and your wit

I will tell them not to even approach you, unless they are smart, loving, respectful, caring, and damn fit

I thank you for allowing me this chance

​I love you for showing me so much, I love you for this Sacred Dance


                                                                                  Jerry Barnett

 Sacred Dance

After much internet research and talking to residents in the surrounding towns, I was able to come up with the history of Fern.  One that is hard to believe, but rich and special none the less.  The story, legend, or rumor goes as follows:  

Around the middle 1800's (probably 1865), a group of Indians (approximately 350) the Putachea (pronounced  Paa taa key waa) were on a migration trip from southeastern Arkansas to eastern Oklahoma (Muskogee area).  Along the way, they stopped at Fern valley (climbing area).  Struck by the beauty, fresh water, rich soil, abundance of trees, the rock formations and boulders providing shelter , they decided to settle down and make "camp".  

This is where the story gets exciting.  The first of spring and fall, they had a celebration for mother earth.  During the festivities, the young boys (around 12-16 years of age) would be encouraged to climb the large boulders and cliff lines.  Mind you, no sticky rubber, no chalk, and NO ROPE!  Some of these climbs were performed at night in the light of the moon and stars.  Upon reaching the top, they would perform some sort of ritual  and then down climb the same way they went up.  (Have you ever down climbed a route in its entirety?, No Thanks!)  This was considered a right of passage to pass from being a boy to a man and warrior.  

Sometime around the 1890's they left Fern valley.  Nobody knows for sure why.  

About 100 years later, around 1991, Roger McKinney and I (Jerry Barnett) started climbing at Fern.  Upon first seeing this piece of Heaven, I was drawn in and overwhelmed by its beauty.  I don't believe there is a more astonishing and wonderful place in Arkansas.  Its cascading streams and waterfalls, that drop into small pools, beg for you to stop and rest on their banks and take in the tranquility that Fern has to offer. The dazzling color of  the cherry blossom and azalea trees that bloom in spring and the kaleidoscope of leaves resembling a wild fire in the fall, have you daydreaming as you walk along the giant boulders perched on the hillsides, and wander aimlessly through the maze of corridors which more often than not are covered in soft, velvet ferns, and a thick, dark green, wet carpet of moss.  

I was awestruck and smitten .  Roger and I felt like we were handed keys to the Kingdom, so why not open the door and get to work.  We started bolting a few routes "Buck Rogers, Easy Street, The Fun is Just Begun, and the classic Shakey Oakey" ( On every ones hit list) and a few aid routes.  Ones later that we were  able to Free.  After a year or so, Roger decided to leave the Kingdom and pursue other interests.  I feeling like the new King, or Jester, stuck around.  I never ever thought that anyone else would be coming along to climb, hike, or just hang out at Fern.  So I went about creating my own personal gym in this little nirvana.  I continued bolting routes and cleaning problems.  Some for myself and some just in case somebody else decided to stop by and pay a visit.  

Fast forward 20 years later.  I've been through several partners, some that have contributed immensely, Tommy Griffith being one, Rob McDaniel being another, and others being nothing more than a belay slave.  I'm older, more out of shape (though I believe the older I get the better I was....senility), more injuries and wrinkles than I can count, but I'm still here manning the Kingdom.  Over 100  routes and as many boulder problems I've established over the years at Fern, even more in the surrounding areas. That's Right!  There are more areas around Fern that we have started developing over the last several years.  I'm still cleaning problems that I know I'll never do.  That's what Aaron Kareus and his crew are there for.  I'm still building and maintaining trails, and trying to be a good steward of this beautiful piece of Heaven that has been given to us.  I'm still amazed every weekend when I pull into the parking lot and see car tags from so many different states, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  Can't seem to get rid of all those OKC climbers, but gotta love um!

​.......Well, the story about the Indians....um....I made that all up!  Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  


​History

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