Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ouachita Backpacking Trip

This past weekend, I had the chance to go backpacking with my brother-in-law Jim.  Paula was away on a knitting adventure, thus freeing my weekend.  We decided to head to the Ouachita Forest and hike the Horsethief Springs Trail to Ceder Lake.  I packed up the Deuter, put the dog in the car, and met Jim at the Talihina State Park.

Our trip started on a cold and windy Saturday afternoon.  As we drove to the trailhead, we saw frost on the windblown trees.  What were we getting ourselves into?

We headed out on the trail around noon.  It was well-marked to start, with white and yellow blazes indicating where to go.  We slipped into conversation and hiked along, staying warm.  Soon enough, we had to make a choice.  One yellow trail headed down a hill, and another yellow and white trail continued on.  We went down the yellow to start and quickly had to make a decision once it hit a road.

We hiked back up the hill and hopped back on the white and yellow trail.  Again, in the midst of conversation, we hiked along.  After an hour or so of uneventful hiking (with me in the lead of course), we hit private property.  The trail dead-ended.  We missed a turn.

This is where my Garmin kicked out.  Here's the link to the hike thus far

Turning back, we picked up where the yellow trail made a turn we missed.  It was getting a little late and our 6 or so mile planned hike was getting longer and longer.  We kept on trucking.  We took a break and Jim's phone indicated he had service.  I took my (new) IPhone out and sure enough, I had service too.  Jim started researching the trail system and I booted up a Google map with our current location.  We were seriously off course.  Jim learned that the yellow markings were various equestrian trails.  We were supposed to follow the white.  D'oh!  After some more research, we made a plan to get to Cedar Lake before nightfall.  A little bushwhacking and road hiking, and we were on our way.

We made it to camp a little before sunset.  After gathering firewood, setting up our tents, and building a fire, we were eating grilled cheese sandwiches and smores.  Luxurious.  The lake (the next day):

The night was cold.  So was the morning.  Soon enough, we were on our way back on the trail.  But this time we were armed with knowledge of the white markings.  We decided to take the "scenic" portion of the trail, which divided at this sign:


However, it was really hard to follow.  Leaves covered the ground and the white markings were becoming fewer and fewer.  At one point, we made it to a ridge but couldn't find any white markings.  Crap.  We went back to the split off for the scenic trail and went back the non-scenic route.  A few more hard miles later, and we were back to the car.

All in all, the trip was real good.  I got to spend time with Jim and I was able to get out of the concrete and into the woods.  The trip was a good way to transition back into my training plan.  I have five months to get ready. 

1 comment:

Paula said...

What a cute tired dog you have! Sounds like you had a fun trip.