Eric Strong Photography
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Ouachita National Recreation Trail, Spring 2005 Thru-hike

    From the morning of Sunday, 17Apr05 until the afternoon of Wednesday, 27Apr05, I solo backpacked through Eastern Oklahoma and Centeral Arkansas wilderness areas on the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. Including a 10 mile resupply hike to Story, AR, and the 3 mile to Maumelle campground at the end of the trip, a little over 235 miles were covered in 11 days. As with my Ozark Highlands Trail trek during the summer of 2004 (See Ozark Highlands Trail/Ouachita Trail comparision.), the time allocated to travel the trail distance required I spend most of the day walking and that I walk at a brisk pace. I did not spend time writing detailed notes nor did I take a camera. I concentrated on completing the trek and creating a potential gift to future Ouachita Trail hikers of collected GPS data.

     Although this trek was a further distance, a higher average daily distance, and more difficult water resupply (see OT Water Issues) than my Ozark Highlands Trail trek, the Ouachita Trek was easier. The Oucahita Trail is better constructed and well maintained. The weather was nicer, probably because it was spring rather than summer. And the overnight stay at the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge was a real treat.

     This trail has a lot to offer. One offering is the learning experience of an extended wilderness backpacking trip. How to pack and carry your gear. How to keep yourself healthy and injury free. How to manage your time. How to resupply. Where and how to set up a nightly campsite. What you really need to live in the wilderness (which is actually very little). How to manage your water. Especially how to manage your water.

    Another offering is the wilderness and the solitude. This was a solo journey and the wilderness was mine. There are wild animals and very few other people. I saw three black bears, wild turkeys,and other animals. Other than in road accessable areas, I saw five people during the trek. On day 1, I passed a pair of backpackers hiking the other way. On day 9, I passed a young couple hiking to their car after a 3 day, 2 night backpacking trip. On day 11 in the Pinnacle Mtn. State Park, I passed a man walking his dog.

    The only real challange of this trip was water management. (see OT Water Issues)

    I hope your next wilderness experience is at least as enjoyable as my Ouachita Trail thru-hike, and please remember to "Leave-No-Trace".

    GPS data collected during the trip can be downloaded to your computer for viewing and downloading to your GPS.
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