Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

OHT Part 2: Everything After Hare Mountain

Alright folks, here's the deal: I've moved on. To sum it up, I walked from Cherry Bend to Lick Branch on the OHT for about 22 miles, including a short out-and-back to Spy Rock. Lick branch is on the gravel road leading to the Little Mulberry put-in. I walked that road to Hwy 215 which runs east to west along the Mulberry. I followed that to Hwy 23 and turned north towards my car. Some concerned friends found me about a mile later and gave me a ride the rest of the way, which meant I would be back at camp just as the party really got rolling. All in all, I walked 37 miles in 14 hrs and generally had a good experience, despite some nasty lessons about hydration and foot care. No big deal. Sorry I don't have the energy to tell the dull story properly. Here are the rest of the pictures:

The Forest Service did a large prescribed burn east of Hare Mountain earlier this spring which made for several miles of relatively nice hiking. Still lots of ticks.

One of many small streams along the trail. Waterfall junkies could go nuts here on rain days.

Spur trail to Spy Rock and the loop trail to Redding Campground on the Mulberry. This would have been a fine place to bail off my planned rout and still have a very nice day hike, but No!

The view from Spy Rock. There's a nice primative campground here which would be worth visiting in the fall.

Herrod's Creek, another fine opportunity to bail.

Indian Creek. I filled a bottle in my pack and treated it with chlorine dioxide but still didn't care to drink the rotten stuff. This would create a minor problem some five hours later until some young cats stopped to ask directions to Byrd's Campground. They gave me two bottles of water and a beer, which tasted pretty damn good. I will never go on a remote hike like this without my water filter agian!

I could have spent an entire day exploring and taking pictures here. One of the best parts of the trail!

I was safely off the trail by 5:30 but still had twenty miles to go to get back to my car.

Resting my feet at Lick Branch. Why did I not bring extra socks?

Mulberry River from Hwy 215 about half way back to my car.

This is the only photo I have of the search party who found me just after ten o'clock at night. I had told someone that I was planning to be off the trail by about 6:00 PM but that that was flexible and not to send the people with the chain saws until Sunday afternoon. Still, he was concerned and let someone know, which I appreciate greatly. Of course, Kurt, Tom, Big Ryan, Medium Ryan, and Stephen all live for stuff like this and were glad to crack open fresh beers and drive themselves to Cherry Bend to see if my car was still there, which is about all they could do at night. They found me on Hwy 23 five miles or so from my car and about that far the other direction from camp, making for one of the quickest search and rescue missions in Arkansas Canoe Club history. I was never in any trouble but it sure was nice to be back at camp drinking at a sensible hour.

This was quite a hike. It was physically difficult, obviously, but it was also mentally and psychologically difficult. I learned things on this hike that I could only learn by pushing the time and distance as I did. I didn't realize how upsetting it would be to not be able to call my boy at his bed time because my phone had no signal. I didn't know how much risk I was willing to take to avoid drinking safe but terrible tasting water. I didn't think my mind would ever become so dull that it wouldn't occur to me that the campground at High Bank had a spigot. I didn't expect that I would become to lazy too repair a blister when I first noticed it just because it was dark outside. I surprised myself. At the end of the day, though, I'm calling the whole exercise a success and I can't wait for the next OHT death march. Sixty miles in 24 hours seems doable, doesn't it?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

OHT Part 1: Hare Mountain

I've been thinking for several days how to write up last Friday's adventure on the Ozark Highlands Trail. I don't quite know where to begin. My plan, which I had been very excited about for weeks, was to run from the Cherry Bend trailhead to Indian Creek and back, about 28 miles. That is not what happened.

Hare Mountain

The OHT trail system is 218 miles long and growing. Contrary to what the OHT people say, not all of it is wonderful. It is 8 o'clock in the morning and I am about to embark on eight miles of unredeeming arduousness called Hare Mountain. The poison ivy has completely overgrown the trail and is wet with morning dew. A hundred yards into the hike and both feet are already soaked. I'll at least run the clear sections. No I won't because I keep twisting my ankles walking through the brush. I don't know how many twistings they can take in a day. Finally, a flat rock where I can check myself for ticks. Just three. Look, a friend on my shoe!

Just noticed the view of Hwy 23 where my car is parked. I wonder if the people stopping on that senic overlook can see me here.

This must be the old homesite mentioned in Tim Ernst's book.

There's supposed to be a well around here somewhere. Oh, here it is.

This campsite is worth a picture. I like the stone chairs. I'll just back up into this grass so I can get it all . . . Oh, another friend!

I'll just find a different angle.

I better get moving. Should be several miles of downhill into a dirt road. Here's a clearing. Pack off, shirt off, I'm checking everywhere: Pits, balls, crack, taint. Looks good, no ticks. What a slog. Must be the warm spring. I had no idea conditions would be this bad. I could bail at Redding. Maybe bushwhack Herrod's to the road. That would be an adventure! All I know is there's no way in hell I'm going back over Hare Mountain.