Ouachita 2019 Day Five (final day for March)

4.7 miles

Stateline shelter to Queen Wilhelmina state park.

It was around 25 degrees when Shane and I woke up at 4am. We sat visiting till sunlight and I sipped my coffee as we finished packing up. Sharon had promised us biscuits at the camper so we headed for Queen Wilhelmina at a quick pace. The trail was so much better maintained than last summer. We saw a deer and stepped through some crusty frozen mud on our way in. We got back to the camper about 945 and grabbed a quick shower before a good breakfast. We visited with Kenny and Sharon for a while before Shane and I headed back to Texas. That’s 51 miles of the Ouachita trail for Shane. Until next time!

Ouachita 2019 Day Four

12.5 miles

Pashubbe shelter to State Line Shelter.

In the middle of what had been a clear night full of stars.. the heavens opened up and it rained so hard we could barely yell back and forth across the shelter. We got back to sleep and I woke up around 5. I hear this crunching in the gravel on the edge of the shelter or just outside. But Shane is laying in his sleeping bag. Later he told me he heard the same thing and thought it was me till he saw I was in my sleeping bag. It sounded big. Who knows what it was. Sasquatch? Bear? Giant beaver?

We got going about 8am and before very long we were going uphill. We climbed and climbed into the sun. A bird popped off the ground and surprised Shane just after I snapped a picture of him going down the trail.

We cruised down the other side of the hill to the kiamachi River. This started our two and a half miles of constant river crossings back and forth. I put on my xero sandals and Shane stomped through in his asolo boots. Even when it was knee high water. Only a couple crossings from the end I spotted three people who I’d seen on the Ouachita Facebook group. A couple days ago they were posting pictures of them in the lodge when we were out in the weather. We had a good little visit and headed on up the hill after I got my nice dry shoes back on. I teased Shane going uphill that if I ran out of water I could always empty his boot. What sound does Sasquatch make? Squish Squish. We had good visits on life and where it takes us as we climbed the 3 miles of hill. When we got to the State Line shelter about 430 Kenny and Sharon were waiting for us with water and snacks (it’s near skyline drive on the top of he mountain) we visited a while before they headed on and then commenced to setting up camp. It could be freezing or below tonight.

Ouachita 2019 Day Three

9 miles.

Winding Stair shelter to Pashubbe shelter

The wind was heavy in the night. We almost couldn’t hear anything over the wind. Except for a fat rodent that chewed on Shane’s socks. I kept hearing him and put a few wrappers under a rock on the ground and he left the rest of our stuff alone. The weather alert was going off on Shane’s phone around 345 am. When Shane woke up about 630 we decided to wait out the worst of the thunderstorm. We agreed on leaving at 11am no matter the weather. When the time came it was a slow rain and fog. We took off down the trail for Big Cedar. About a mile from the bottom we stopped to filter water where we have filtered before and when we came to Big Cedar it was flowing real heavy. I crossed with my xero sandals and Shane headed in as soon as I got across. I should have tossed him my sandals. By the time he got over his bare feet were hurting.

We headed up the next hill about 215 and had to side step the streams that were flowing down the trail.

We stopped about a mile before the shelter and topped up on water. That mile seemed like three to Shane who hadn’t eaten snacks on the way up.

We got into the shelter about 430 and setup our laundry mat. I ran some line out and we hung out wet stuff out to dry.

Ouachita 2019 Day Two

16 trail miles. Just under 19 miles hiked.

Thunder announced the storm about 2am. I was up about 5 with a headache and made some coffee. Everyone else woke up about 715 and we packed up and had breakfast. We got on the trail about 830.. and started the slow journey over the rocks for the next 7.5 miles. It was slow going over the boulder fields and “rock glaciers”. About 2pm we made it to the shelter at the top of the hill and Sharon came to pick up Kenny for the evening. She brought us water and Gatorade which was great.

Shane and I had 8.5 miles to go to get to the shelter. About 5pm we saw the vulture waiting on a tree for us. At 6 we got to winding stair campground and fueled up with snacks for the trip up the hill. It was a slow trek for the 1.3 miles up the hill to the shelter. We felt blessed that we only got a few drips as we walked through the fog into the shelter about 7:00pm.

We cooked up dinner and crawled onto sleeping bags. Thankful for a little shelter from the wind.


Ouachita 2019 Day One

~10 miles.

It was rainy as we left Texas early in the morning. We rolled into Queen Wilhelmina state park about 9:20 and loaded into the truck with Kenny and Sharon. Sharon dropped us off at mile zero and we headed off. The weather was so much nicer than predicted. We stopped a few times along the way for snacks and water. When we hit deadman’s gap we had to go down the slippery hill a little slower. Shane has his hiking pole save him from really going over hard. We got to rock garden shelter a little after 5:00 and setup. About 6:30 a father and son joined us at the shelter. They went to filter water as we finished dinner.

5.7 miles on a soaking wet Ouachita trail.

Morning coffee was interrupted by a bear this morning. I had to shoe it off.

It started raining so we decided to go into Mena and get groceries. On the way back on the spur of the moment I had Jenn drop me off on highway 270 a few miles from the campground. It was still lightly raining and within a few hundred yards on the not maintained trail I was soaked. The first couple miles were tough uphill. Then the rocks and chest high brush and sticker bushes started. I stumbled my way through wishing I had my trekking poles. As I got back within the park boundaries a family hiking a loop trail were talking about a USGS mile marker where the Ouachita runs on the loop. “That’s a lie.. there’s no trail that long.” “Yes there is.. you are on a part of it, and I’ve hiked it”.

As I got back to camp I could hear my kids hiking around on the other side of the old steam train. I waved from far off and came back to the camper for a shower and some lunch.

The trail once you get into the park :

Spring forward on the Lone Star Trail. 8.5 miles and the completion of the trail for Kenny.

We got started at 6:38 this morning after springing forward an hour for daylight savings time. We hiked by headlamp till the sun came up. It was very swampy and still flooded from the hurricane. My favorite section of this trail has been majorly changed by the flooding.

About mile 95 the rain started coming down. We ran into a couple thru hikers headed into the rain. When we reached the trials end at 10:10 I met a guy who had attempted to thru hike, got to mile 19 and hurt his ankle. He was just getting back to his car.

Now to go pick up the zuki at the other trail head. A good 30+ mile weekend for us. And Kenny has now completed the whole trail too!

Osprey Levity 60L First Impressions.

I am out on my first trip with Osprey’s Levity. 21 miles today, and I got it all adjusted and comfortable. For the past few years I have been carrying an Exos 38. I also had a 58, but almost never used it. I intended to get the Levity 45… but the weight difference in a medium is 1.6 ounces. Roughly 1/10th of an ounce per extra liter. So I got the 60.

“But, it doesn’t have waistbelt pockets!” You will say. No, it doesn’t. And I liked those on my Exos. But the weight savings is worth it. 25 percent reduction over the Exos. My Levity comes in at 1.9lbs.

I like the solid material rear pockets vs he mesh of the Exos. I have a feeling those are going to hold up longer.

It looks to me that a Z fold sleeping pad could fit nicely just over the Levity logo with a bit of cord. I’ll have to try that at home when I am not using my inflatable.

I started this trip with 11lbs + food and water. I loaded up on water for a dry damp tonight and put the pack in the mid 20’s to see how it would carry and it purrs along comfortably.

I like it. I think the 45 liter is probably the Goldilocks. But I’m not sorry I got the 60. It cinches up well with a nice latch system.

Spring forward on the Lone Star Trail. 21.8 Miles

We finished our shuttle Friday night about nine. We hiked in about a half a mile till we found a tiny spot under the trees we could each get our tent setup.

Saturday morning we were both up early. We headed off by headlamp at 6am. We headed over to the San Jacinto river where we met a couple thru hikers trying to cross as well. We found a fallen tree, and I went across first. As I walked the log a few feet above the water, I came to a part with no bark and it was slick. I quickly straddled the log. Kenny thought I was going in. Once I got back on the bark I walked on across. Kenny was smarter and shimmied his way all the way over. The guys from the Yukon and Wisconsin waded.

Kenny and I headed on to Double Lake campground and stopped in for the restroom and water. The thru hikers caught up and we visited a bit before heading into the honeycomb of trails full of dayhikers. For about 5 miles we saw lots of people. We had 10 miles for the day by 1030 and stopped for a snack. The next few miles were very muddy and hadn’t drained well since the hurricane last summer. Nothing like the last time I was through this section.

At about mm85 on the trail we came to a sign saying there is a scheduled burn out here tomorrow.

At 19 miles for the day we stopped for a snack at about 3:30.

About 445 we cross out of the burn area and setup camp a couple hundred feet the other side of a pipeline. 21.8 miles for the day. We setup tents and for inside to avoid the mosquitos. A grand day.

13 miles on the Hopewell Trail

We got started across the Hopewell trail on Lake Whitney at 9 am. We hiked from Kimbell Bend towards Lakeside Village. We ran into a trail runner about two miles in. He was from nearby and running about a 7.5 trip. We got a little snack on top of an old cellar at about 5 miles.

We passed through Plowman Creek Park and noticed their signs were not the right distance in each direction, but about right overall distance.

We continued on and got another snack as we crossed another creek.

We continued on to the end of the actual trail, 11.75 miles across without the half mile detour for higher water. Then we went on up the hill to the radio tower for a lookout.

13 miles in 5.5 hours. Good times.