I went with a good buddy Will Kantz to Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas for a hiking trip. We completed the 26.8 mile Eagle Rock loop trail. We went November 11-14. I took my Canon 40d, 24-70 lens, and tripod. I think Will enjoyed watching me carry this equipment the whole trip. After seeing the pictures, I am glad I took the camera.
We originally planned to park at a trail head close to Athens Big Fork trail. The road was out just before the parking area, so we ventured over towards Albert Pike Recreation Area. This area is still closed due to the flood that went through in June 2010. The campsites are still being renovated. We parked at the Little Missouri trail head and started our trip counter-clockwise.
Our intent was to get the challenging Athens Big Fork trail done first when we were fresh. This is an 8 mile trail up and down 6 mountain ranges. The weather was overcast and we did get light drizzle rain. We completed 1 mountain on Thursday. We made camp along the trail about 60 yards from a nice creek. Friday morning we met a father-son group from Dallas. They were out on the trail for the first time as well.
Friday morning was interesting. I was fast asleep at 5 in the morning when Will awoke to nature's call. He got back in the tent and was getting his shoes off. I was awakened wondering what I was hearing. It was bag pipe music playing Amazing Grace. Will had somehow hit a button on his iphone and music started playing. We played different versions of Amazing Grace back and forth between our iphones. We packed up and made our way further down the trail Friday. The clouds burned off and the weather was perfect. 65 degrees with deep blue skies. We managed to get over 3 mountains and starting on number 5 before making camp. Rain came in during the night. It is time to coat the tent.
We woke Saturday morning to light rain and thick cloud cover. We met a couple more guys along the trail from Dallas heading the opposite way. We provided encouragement in what was ahead of them and what we passed. The cloud covering burned off late morning and another beautiful day. Low 60's and beautiful blue skies. We finished the Athens Big Fork trail and started on the Viles Branch trail. We met the fathers-son from Dallas. We met up with them at the first big river crossing across the Little Missouri. Off with hiking shoes, on with water shoes. Yes the water was cold. Pictures of Will standing in the middle of the river will attest to this. We hiked with them to Winding Stair and they stopped to camp at a cave and we continued onward. We crossed the Little Missouri and continued down trail about .3 miles. We found a perfect camping spot with plenty of trees. The river was 30 yards away and we enjoyed listening to the rapids through the night. The temperature dropped to its coldest Saturday night. Low 30's outside, warm and cozy in sleeping bag in the tent.
We woke Saturday morning to a brisk cold morning. The skies were clear. The only thing was we had about 10 miles to get back to Little Missouri Falls to go home. We would be on the Little Missouri trail. We packed and hit the trail heading towards Albert Pike. We made it to Albert Pike and scouted around the area. I took a few pictures of where the flood waters crested. At least 20 feet above river. We continued towards Little Missouri Falls with 6.3 miles left. We were ready to get back and was moving pretty quick. I was convinced they added more miles to the trail when we were not looking. Was not sure if the trail would end. I thought it became a perpetual trail. There were various creeks to cross and rocks along the trail to go over making the trip a little more difficult than we expected.
Made it back to the car in 5 hours. Not too bad for time with backpacks doing an average of 2 miles an hour. Our feet were aching and we were tired. Check out some of the last pictures. Will missed his car and even gave it a kiss. He was overcome with emotion. Loaded in the car and on the road to Fort Worth.
Thanks Will for a great trip.