OHT: Section 4 (Part 1)

Britt’s backpack has been around since the mid-eighties. Someday I want to sit down and write out a memoir for that pack. It may have gone on more good trips than I’ll see in my lifetime. A replacement internal-frame pack in Britt’s size has been found and ordered, so this was the old pack’s last trip. It wasn’t dangerous or exciting, as some of its earlier trips were. But it had one last long weekend in the woods with good friends and clear skies and a bright moon, and I hope that was enough.

2013 01 22 Britts Pack

We began our walk at Lick Branch, where we’d left off hiking a couple of months ago. The trail was level for a bit before beginning a long, slow, all-afternoon climb. Our camping spot was perfect, on a flat spot just above a tumbling bluffline of big sandstone blocks, and a barred owl called through the woods as we set up. We never saw the owl, but he sounded close enough to touch. Worn out, I went to bed right after supper. Continue reading “OHT: Section 4 (Part 1)”

The OHT Project: Section 3

One of our favorite long-term projects is the goal of hiking the whole Ozark Highlands Trail with our friends Britt and Debbie. We figure that if we do one section each spring and one section each autumn, we’ll be finished by the time Mandy graduates from high school. We missed last spring, so we’re one chunk behind, but we’ll try to make it up soon. This fall, we hiked Section 3, from Cherry Bend (on the Pig Trail) over Hare Mountain through Indian Creek, to Lick Branch.

2012 11 08 OHT Section 3 Map

It had been a busy week, so we decided to stay home on Friday night and just leave bright and early Saturday morning for the trail. We picked up the apparently obligatory giant sandwiches at the Turner Bend store before dropping Mandy, Debbie, Hayduke and I off at the trailhead so that Bryan and Britt could run shuttle. We picked up trash and cut up old yucky orange vests to pin to our packs. (It’s the first week of gun season here in Arkansas, a fact that we somehow overlooked when choosing this particular weekend to hike.)

Continue reading “The OHT Project: Section 3”

Ozark Highlands Trail, Section 2

Last weekend we hiked the second section of the Ozark Highlands Trail, from White Rock Mountain to Cherry Bend, with our good friends Britt and Debbie.

The timing was perfect to celebrate Britt’s retirement. After a long career caring for elephants in several states, and one last sad and frustrating year at the Little Rock zoo, he said good-bye to the animals on Thursday. We hiked a few miles together on Friday, and then set up camp near a pretty stream. We made cherry cheesecakes and hung a makeshift “Happy Retirement” banner near the campfire and drank wine together in the dark.

Congratulations, friend. You chose a career in something you loved, something that allowed you to work hard and keep learning. You chose family over money and you chose moving forward over standing still. You made animals’ lives better and you made people smile. We’re looking forward to your next adventures, and we hope you’ll share some of them with us.

Backpacking with Hayduke and Isabel

Our friend Isabel just turned five, but she’s been outside a lot. Her parents are both active, outdoor people – they both cave, and Amy runs and backpacks, and Spike hunts a lot – so Isi’s quite accustomed to sleeping in a tent, to eating noodles while sitting on rocks, to peeing in the woods. No problem. Isabel is comfortable in the big wide world.

20110403 - Backpacking with Isi-1

So it was no surprise that Isi’s first backpacking trip was a resounding success. We’d been planning it for months. We met up at Fairview campground on Friday night and did a quick car-shuttle before dropping into the Ozark Highlands Trail near Ben Hur. Continue reading “Backpacking with Hayduke and Isabel”

Ozark Highlands Trail: Trip 1

Last winter, we hatched a plan to backpack the whole Ozark Highlands Trail with our friends Britt and Debbie. While we’ve all hiked a ton, none of us has spent much time on the OHT. One weekend trip each spring and one each fall should be enough to finish the 225-mile trail by the time Mandy graduates from high school.

20110221 - OHT Part 1-1

We want to do the trail sections in order, from west to east. We started walking at Lake Fort Smith State Park. Continue reading “Ozark Highlands Trail: Trip 1”