Ouachita Trail – Hike Part 2

The next morning we awoke, much to our relief, with a thoroughly dry and mostly upright tent. The mesh interior on Kaila’s side had fallen off its clasp in the middle of the night and spooked her but that was a much easier fix than the night before. Breakfast was much more palatable, but only after we cooked our meals for an extra five minutes apiece (we’re getting instant grits for next time). This plus extra sleep we required from the previous night’s happenings caused us to get a late start…around 10am.

Once we were done chasing spiders out of the mesh pockets of Kaila’s pack (they’ll be useful eventually!) we headed out. There was an abundance of boulders on the trail. We didn’t bother trying to track our miles per hour due to all of the scrambling we ended up doing. Since trying to find the trail through boulder fields and climbing through said boulder fields is exhausting we stopped for lunch around 12:30 near a nice flat rock that was mostly in the sun. This provided an excellent cutting board for our fig salami. Yep, that’s a real thing. Thank you World Market for delivering on never-heard-of but totally delicious snacks. We bought all three types they sold but Kaila got a little tired of them after two days of lunch so the third is in the pantry for a wine and cheese night.

After lunch we decided to continue hiking for another half an hour, or until the trail starting heading downhill. The terrain only got marginally better but continued uphill for a while. We turned back after completing about 16 miles of the Ouachita Trail, which was only about half of what we had planned on. Once we turned back we started listening to our respective devices and plodded on through the miles back to campsites.

It was exhausting. At this point we had been hiking for two straight days with about 30 pounds each on our backs and hadn’t slept great for two nights either. When we reached where we had camped the previous night Kaila asked that we try to go the extra mile to the trail shelter. There was a picnic table there and sitting at a “normal” level sounded fantastic. We pushed on and, fortunately, there was no one there. Taking off a pack and not having to worry about the poison ivy clumps was a wonderful experience. The shelter was very clean. We were definitely worried that there would be spider webs all over the interior and were happy to find only one spider sharing the space with us. The Friends of the Ouachita Trail do a fantastic job maintaining the shelter. There was also a trail register there so we got to sign that!

It was exhausting. At this point we had been hiking for two straight days with about 30 pounds each on our backs and hadn’t slept great for two nights either. When we reached where we had camped the previous night Kaila asked that we try to go the extra mile to the trail shelter. There was a picnic table there and sitting at a “normal” level sounded fantastic. We pushed on and, fortunately, there was no one there. Taking off a pack and not having to worry about the poison ivy clumps was a wonderful experience. The shelter was very clean. We were definitely worried that there would be spider webs all over the interior and were happy to find only one spider sharing the space with us. The Friends of the Ouachita Trail do a fantastic job maintaining the shelter. There was also a trail register there so we got to sign that!

Our morning was a little more streamlined this last day and we were off hiking a little after 8am. Although it probably helped that we didn’t have to take down a tent and that Kaila wanted the instant oatmeal packets out of the apartment for good. We were also in a really optimistic mood because we had decided we’d make it back to the vehicle today and would get to sleep in our bed tonight and still have the next day off of work to do chores. From the trail shelter at 9.4 miles there was a dirt road up the hill at 8 miles. When we had come down from the dirt road we had noticed the change in forest type and the increase in rocks. So we knew that the morning wasn’t starting off easy but to our surprise we made it to the dirt road in less than an hour.

Realizing that put more spring in our step, as Kaila calculated that we could reasonably make it to the car by 1pm. She set the pace and hoped that we didn’t burn out before then. We stopped around 10:30 for a snack break and then stopped at noon-ish for lunch. Mini tortillas were a fantastic decision for lunches. We could spread cheese on them and put sliced “salami” and roll them or spread cheese on one and peanut butter on another. Peanut butter and tortillas never tasted so good. After lunch we continued on and as we got closer to the stream crossing Kaila wondered whether the stream would be easier to cross now that the water had gone down.

We made it back to the vehicle to find that the pollen had coated it. We took off our packs and beelined to the bathroom for the clean feeling of hand-washing. Afterwards we wiped down with Body Wipes, and changed into cleaner clothes.

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