The Eagle Rock Loop - Completed

On: Thursday, July 16, 2009

Eagle Rock Loop Trail, Ouachita National Forest Trail Highlights: This trail offers the longest loop trail in Arkansas. A combination of the Little Missouri, the Athens-Big Fork and part of the Viles Branch Horse Trail, this trail travels through the southwestern portion of the Ouachita National Forest. Trail difficulty ranges from easy to most difficult. The trail has nine river/stream crossings and travels over nine mountains. There are also numerous creek crossings. Length: 26.8 miles - 2 to 3 days travel time one way. History: This trail was developed along a 100 year-old postal route and old wagon roads in partnership with the Forest Service, the Student Conservation Association, Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society and the Little Missouri Trails Council.

This is an excerpt from the USDA Forest Service website. What is doesn't mention is that this trail is 'probably the most difficult trail in Arkansas'. That is a quote from my map that was ruined by moisture.

I didn't forsee any issues with the trail or weather. Plan was for a 3 day, 2 night trip. Since the weather was so hot we actually did the trip as an overnight and was able to pound out the miles in 2 days. The recorded temps for the nearest town was 97° on Friday and 100° on Saturday with 77° as a low for Friday night.

First problem was I woke up at 0230-ish since my daughter was crying and I could not go back to sleep. Since Guy (trail partner) was supposed to be at my house to pick my up at 0340-ish I figured I'd would just stay up. Called Guy at 0340 to find him still in bed. Whoops! No biggie so I moved my stuff outside by the car so the dog whould not wake up the girls. He arrived a little after 4 and we hit the road by 0430.

2 hours later I remember that I had forgotten my hiking boots. &$@#*(&!!!

I called the Mrs, who had to wake up the Mad, met us almost half way (THANK YOU!), then back on the road 2 hrs behind 'schedule'.

The road to the trail was a winding gravel road that was about 15 miles loooong. When we finally arrived the area was nice but the Park Ranger stated that some [idiots] had been feeding the bears. Bears?! Oh yeah, bears. Be careful.

Parking Lot with Guy's Trusty Steed.

Cool rock wall that had water gushing out at the bottom.

First real water crossing. There were a LOT of crossings and I am glad the water was not very high for some of them. Many of the 'wet' crossings felt really good...if only we had taken the time to soak in a few of them.
I am not a fan of wet socks while hiking so we had to change often, but I didn't get a blister the while trip so it was worth it.This is the swimming hole mentioned in the May (?) 2009 issue of Backpacker Magazine. It looked VERY inviting... I will be coming back to this trail.

Santa? I thought you stayed in the North Pole? This is most definitely NOT the North Pole, however, there is a pole involved in the rear area of Santa. Weird place for a santa.
Whew! 11 Miles under the belt. I'm taking a breather next to a trail marker sign.

Camp: See all the poison ivy?! BTW: +90° = No fire = More sleep = Earlier start. This was an established camp complete with a half full container of acetone that I used to clean my hands of poison ivy-ness. This is the first trip exposed to this much poison ivy and I didn't get it; love it.
MILES later: Hot and thirsty break. I wish we had taken a pic of our lunch spot, it was awesome but this was nice too. I'm learning that I enjoy the trip more when I take a break and let it sink in. Otherwise it's just a trail in the middle of no where.

Apparently someone thought it too heavy.
Golf Ball sized spiders (with legs not stretched out) make some freaky trail buddies:
The 'mountain' trails looked like this for the most part and luckily(?) we had to stop often to enjoy the view and catch our breath. The knife like ridges were pretty steep in the back ground and it's hard to tell, but the trail is pretty steep here and even more steep in other areas. These weren't something to shake a stick at. I want to tackle them again when it's about 70°.
We ended up at the trail head about 30 hours from when we started. We made it an overnight trip and I can now appreciate the effort we were able to put in, but I'd rather space it over 2 nights to enjoy the area more.
After a steaming hot shower we limped into a local town called Mt Ida for some subway. Thankfully they were closed but the Shack Attack located in their historic downtown was open. Awesome sweet tea, great baked submarines, and low, low prices. I only wish we had been there for the $6 pizza buffet.

As we were hiking out I was getting pretty low in spirits and leg cramps were imminent. I prayed and God answered. I asked God to grow my faith and He did. God is merciful, even on small stuff, like leg cramps and hot delicious sandwiches covered in melted mozzarella.

4 comments on "The Eagle Rock Loop - Completed"

The Unabashed Blogger said...

I've done some research and found the spider is a Hentz's Orbweaver. It's not a camel spider, but still gave us the chills.

Guy said...

Let's look at this trail again in September.

The Angry Coder said...

LOL!!! This trip tooks like the culmination of overambitiousness and underenjoyment. The trail itself sounds like a good hike.

A Pilgrim's Porridge said...

i want to hike.