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Ascent of Petit Jean Mountain on 2016-02-01

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Others in Party:Marshall Stewart -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Monday, February 1, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Petit Jean Mountain
    Location:USA-Arkansas
    Elevation:2440 ft / 743 m

Ascent Trip Report

As far as I can determine, Petit Jean Mountain is the 13th highest named highpoint in Arkansas. It is a drive up with the highest point just 100 yards from the road, but the road to get there is long and quite rough. I did make it, however, in my 1991 Ford Festiva, so you should be able to make it up in anything you have unless you're worried about getting your car dirty. According to the topo map, this spot used to be called the Stonehouse Recreation Area with a lookout tower, but nothing remains today, except the cement pads where the tower used to stand. Even the summit benchmark is missing and there is no view here due to the trees. Probably the only thing that remains interesting about this highpoint is the name. According to local legend, a French nobleman named Chavet was granted an expedition to explore uncharted regions of the New World in the 1700's. His beautiful fiancée, Adrienne Dumont, tried to convince him to allow her to join him on his journey, but Chavet refused. Adrienne did not give up, however. She came up with a daring plan to disguise herself as a young man and attempt to work onboard the ship. She cut her hair and went into disguise. She was able to obtain a position as the ship's cabin boy. Her fellow sailors liked the quiet, little cabin boy and gave "him" the name Petit Jean, which translates to Little John. Petit Jean kept to herself and her true identity remained a secret with even Chavet unable to recognize her. Chavet's ship crossed the Atlantic Ocean and eventually sailed up the Mississippi River and then further into the wilderness up the Arkansas River. The crew arrived at the foot of what is now Petit Jean Mountain (but not the same one recorded here) and they were welcomed by American Indians to stay for the summer. As autumn approached, the ship's crew prepared to continue their journey. Unfortunately, Petit Jean became gravely ill with fever. It was during this helpless state that her attendants discovered she was a woman. Shortly, Chavet learned that Petit Jean was, in fact, his beloved fiancée. Petit Jean asked Chavet to forgive her for the deception, but it was during this reunion that her condition grew worse. Knowing that death was near, she made a final request, which was to be buried high upon the beautiful point of a mountain overlooking the river. Chavet and the ship's crew buried Petit Jean there and named the mountain after her. (The above information was taken from a historical information sign in Petit Jean State Park located several dozen miles to the east just south of the Arkansas River. This is where Petit Jean is supposed to actually be buried and not on this mountain, although it is named Petit Jean Mountain. It so happens that there is more than one Petit Jean Mountain in Arkansas. Another one, where Petit Jean is supposed to be buried is in Petit Jean State Park. That Mountain is also called Petit Jean Mountain, but its elevation is only 1207 feet, 1232 feet lower than this summit.)
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail



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