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.

Saturday on the Eagle Rock Loop 8 miles.

There was no hurry to get started this morning with only a few miles to go. We sat around after breakfast and visited. We got on the trail shortly before 8.

Hiking was easy and we reached the next little climb around 1030. We headed near the top and grabbed a picture or two all together.

We got back to the car at about 1145 and waved our goodbyes to Chris and Megan and they were eating lunch. We loaded up and headed back towards Texas.

After lunch we are cruising down the road when who do I see in my mirror? Chris and Megan. We stop for gas, who do we see? Chris and Megan. Way to keep running into friends.

We dropped Scott off in Rockwall and headed home into the sunset.

Black Friday on the Eagle Rock Loop. 14 miles.

I restarted the fire about 5am. I packed up and ate breakfast as the other guys got ready. We got on the trail at 7am right as Chris and Megan were packed up and eating their breakfast. For the next couple hours we passed people in their camps. We met an energetic dog and his owner, and a few other people on the trail before we stopped for a snack at the top of a large ridge about 945. Chris shortly showed up dressed in his bright orange and looking so perky vs last night that Scott didn’t even recognize him.

We stopped for lunch at 1215 at around 9 miles, after we got through the ridges. Chris and Megan joined us, as did two other families. I filtered water and we headed on.

We played a game of various groups of people overtaking each other until we passed everyone around Little Missouri Falls. A quarter mile down the trail we came to a great campsite. When I got my tent setup Chris and Megan showed up to join us. We scrounged for wood and they brought a lot of driftwood up from the river. We got the fire started and we sat around visiting under a partial moon and a clear sky.

Thanksgiving on the Eagle Rock Loop 7 miles.

Ken came over and we left the house about 5:45 am. We swung through Rockwall and picked up Scott before headed up to Arkansas. Almost nothing was open on Thanksgiving Day, but we found some snacks at a convenience store right before we got to the Albert Pike Recreation Area.

We got on the Eagle Rock Loop around 1145. It was sunny and about 51 degrees when we took off. We started hiking clockwise and after a couple miles we had to cross the Little Missouri River. It was nice and chilly on the feet. I put my shoes back on and the next time we had to cross I was able to rock hop without going in over my shoes.

Around 330 we stopped and grabbed water at a good stream crossing and around 4 we found a good campsite just before we head up hill. We set up, fire going, and Megan and Chris joined us, A couple hikers who came in behind us.

I busted out the turkey summer sausage since it was thanksgiving. And Scott busted out Oreos for dessert. As it started to get dark a couple Cajuns Dwayne and Nick came by and camped a few hundred feet away. They came over to visit and while by the fire before going back to their own fire.

Day 8 on the Colorado Trail/CDT

4 miles

I woke up at my usual time. Which means 4am Colorado time. I had packed up and eaten breakfast by the time the other guys were stirring. We got on the trail about 7 am with 4 miles to the zuki. It was great trail and wonderful hiking. 103 miles in 7 days 1 hour. We were thankful to get back to a running vehicle and we shuttled Scott and Rick to Monarch pass and came back to Poker Alice in Lake City for pizza before we go pick up the truck and go to Silverton to spend tomorrow off-roading with our new friends Scott and Rick. As I pulled the zuki up to Spring Creek pass we see “Hot Lunch” a guy we have seen a couple times, hitching for a ride. I told him that as soon as we hooked up the vehicles we would give him a ride back to Lake City. It was cold and rainy so it was great timing for him and not out of the way for us. We dropped him off at second street and headed for Silverton.

Day 7 on the Colorado Trail/CDT

17 trail miles. Just under 19 total.

We got started about 7am. Kenny and I took off and Rick and Scott caught us in a couple of hours. I had a tiny bit of cell signal so I updated the blog and FaceTimed with the kids. There were beautiful views in the aspens and valleys. Shortly before noon we stopped to filter water and eat lunch. After about 12 miles we filtered water to make sure we had enough for a dry camp. Around 14 miles we ran into a mountain biker riding “The Great Divide Trail” from Banf Canada to the Mexican border. He was a very funny guy who has lived all over the world and currently lives in Australia. We worked our way up a long hill with only a short accidental detour before finding camp at about 19 miles walked for the day. The weather was dry and mild and we all sat around a little campfire and visited and told old stories.