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  1. #1
    Senior Member Caveman's Avatar
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    Eagle Rock Loop Adventure 12-27/12-28

    The names of the innocent have been changed to avoid any grief. If the other members of the group wish to chime in, that's up to them, but for this trip we will call them "Bill" and "John".

    So, I was contact by "Bill" about three months ago. He said that he wanted to do ERL, but would like to do it with someone who had done it before. He had read one of my trip reports on another site and contacted me via pm. After some back and forth, the dates were set and a pre-meet was agreed upon as the date came closer. Well, during the waiting, I mentioned the trip to a friend "John" and he said that he was interested in going as well. (I love ERL, so I tend to talk it up a bit, but I made it clear that the hills are DIFFICULT) Ok, so time went by and "Bill" and I finally met for the pre-meet on the 20th of Dec (nothing like waiting until the last minute). Plans were discussed on where we would like to camp. I again tried to make it clear that the hill section is difficult. So, "Bill" and I agreed to meet at the Athens Big Fork/Little Missouri TH on Friday morning and do the loop CCW to get the hills out of the way early. "John" and I had agreed to meet at the TH on Thur night and camp close so we could get an early start. (This option was given to "Bill", but he opted for a hotel close by.)
    Friday morning, "Bill" shows up right on time. "John" packs up and we hit the trail about 9. The plan was to hike the hills and camp about 1/2 mile after the Viles junction. I like to hike my own hike (and I made this clear through pms and at the pre-meet) so in the first few hundred feet I was out of site from "Bill and John". I got to camp at about 2pm. I made camp, took a nap, ate some food, gathered fire wood, started a fire.... At this point I started to figure that they had decided to go back to the car and I would see them Sunday (or get back to an empty parking lot at the TH). Well, at about 5:15 "John" came dragging in to camp. He was obviously worn out and the only thing I remember him saying is, "I don't think we will see "Bill" tonight". I helped him with his pack (I had already had a nap and some food, so I was feeling ok) and he got set up. We visited for a bit and were recovering from the tough day. When I asked him about the last time he saw "Bill", he said, "about 1/4 way up the first hill "Bill" sat on a rock next the trail and said "I may have bitten off more than I can chew"." We decided that we would hang out at camp until 9 or 10 and figure out what to do if his car was still at the TH when we got back there on Sun. Well...At about 7 or so I see a headlamp coming into camp. It's "BILL". He had made it through the hills and night hiked on to camp. What a trooper. He was wore plumb out. He set up and went to sleep (no food or anything). It was a good night. The hammock never felt so good.
    Next day, we packed up and were on the trail by 830. After about an hour, "Bill and John" had decided that they were going to Winding Stairs and getting a shuttle from there back to the car (at all cost!) Not knowing if they would find one or not, I volunteered to hustle it back to the cars and drive around to WS to pick them up and take them back to their vehicles. At this point it was either back over the hills (about 9 miles) or proceed forward (18 miles, but no BIG hills). I opted for option 2. I was off!
    I made it almost to WS with dry feet, but that didn't last When I got to Albert Pike I went for the restroom.... DENIED! The rr were closed, so I took about 5 minutes to change into some dry socks, enjoy resting at the picnic tables, and get a few calories in me. I knew at this point I was almost halfway. I was already pretty exhausted, but I was on a mission, so I continued on. When I made it to the Falls I was walking into the parking area and noticed a white car and a silver suv (The same color and type of vehicle that "Bill and John" just happened to be driving). I thought for just a few minutes that they had got a ride to their cars and came to "save" me. I was wrong. It wasn't them. I hiked on. I was down to the last leg now. All the elevation should be behind me. It's going to be smooth sailing from here. At about the 16 mile mark my body was getting pretty upset with me. My legs were begining to charlie horse and were quite fatigued. I was almost there....I can make it. I hiked on. I past another group of 3 guys and asked about how far from the trailhead we were (I knew we had to be close, but it seemed like I should have been there by now). They said it was about a mile... I hiked on. Finally, I ran into a group camping at the top of a hill... When I looked down to my right I could see my car! Needless to say, I didn't chat long with those guys (I don't think I even stopped) I got to the car at about 4:15, put my pack in the back, went to the stream there to refill my water. As I was walking back to my car (to drive around to find the rest of the group) a white pick-up pulled up and "Bill and John" jumped out. I was relieved to see that I didn't have to go hunting for them (and perfect timing too). I had been trying to decide if I was going to camp near the TH, but when I finally got to my car, I was ready to get to a hot shower and warm bed.

    What a great adventure. We all survived and no one was injured. It was quite a test of endurance for us all (at least I know it was for me). The only thing I regret about this time around was that I was in such a rush to get back to the cars that I couldn't stop and take pics and enjoy the views as much as I would have liked to. The weather was perfect for hiking and ERL is such a beautiful trail. Looking forward to the next time (after some recovery time of course)

    Thanks,
    Caveman
    If you ain't havin' fun, you're doin' it wrong

  2. #2
    sargevining's Avatar
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    What? Nobody got lost? How can you have an adventure if nobody gets lost?

  3. #3
    Member Wolf's Avatar
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    I love ERL, too. Winding Stairs is really nice.
    The beauty of sunsets,
    The wind in the pines,
    The mountains give these and more...
    Peace of mind.

  4. #4
    rhjanes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sargevining View Post
    What? Nobody got lost? How can you have an adventure if nobody gets lost?
    Ask Caveman to tell you about his Tom-Tom......even updated.....from this trip....
    Call me Junior

    Pirating – Corporate Takeover without the paperwork
    "For a couple of bucks, get a weird haircut and waste your life away" Bryan Adams....
    "Hammock hangs are where you go into the woods to meet men you've only known on the internet so you can sit around a campfire to swap sewing tips and recipes." - sargevining on HF

  5. #5
    Senior Member Caveman's Avatar
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    Lol... Don't start Ray. At least it gets me close.

    Quote Originally Posted by rhjanes View Post
    Ask Caveman to tell you about his Tom-Tom......even updated.....from this trip....
    If you ain't havin' fun, you're doin' it wrong

  6. #6
    New Member
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    Sound like a fun trip. So you can power walk.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SmokeHouse's Avatar
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    One of my Favorite Trails... Thanks for sharing CM... 2 years ago I was with 9 other people,,, most from Texas... 5 blew their knees out... ugggggg...

  8. #8
    I Learn So Others Can Too FireInMyBones's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good trip. I find that my trips rarely go as planned when I'm with others (though I enjoy the company) but almost always go as planned when I solo. I'm glad everyone made i back to their cars without a tun of trouble.
    -Jeremy "Brother Bones" Owner of Bonefire™ Gear

    "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11

    Quote Originally Posted by FLRider View Post
    FireInMyBones; he's a mountain goat crossed with a marathoner.
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  9. #9
    Guyz's Avatar
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    ERL is one of my favorite trails also CM. I don't think I've been able to hike the whole trail with someone else. Only solo.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    I'm the "Bill" from the story and Caveman did a good job of summarizing it, so I don't have too much to add. Both "John" and I swore that we'd never be back. In fact, I swore a lot that day! Crossing the mountains all in the first day seemed like a good idea, but I now realize the wisdom mentioned by others of breaking them up.

    I crested the last hill just as it was getting full dark, so I put on the headlamp (on HIGH) and began walking down. I was a little worried about losing the trail in the dark, but was pleased to see that the blazes were well spaced on this section and actually show up well at night. It was actually kind of a nice hike (or would have been had I been in a more pleasant mood). Maybe it was the dark causing it to feel further than it was, but I began to think that I had gone too far on the Viles Creek section and had overshot the camp in the dark. Since the only thing that had kept me going over all of the hills the first day (instead of setting up camp after the 4th or 5th hill) was my not wanting to leave my trailmates in the dark about my location, I was a little frustrated (epic understatement here )to think that I had missed the camp. I sat down at a bend in the trail to consider my next steps, grab a snack, and pull out another layer to wear since the temp was beginning to drop in the dark. After about 30 minutes I hoisted the pack and headed out again, thinking I would walk another 30 minutes then make camp and wait for Caveman and "John" to overtake me in the morning. Of course, I hadn't walked 30 seconds when I saw the light hanging in the camp guiding me in! Prettiest light ever!

    Solemn oaths notwithstanding, I'm already planning a return trip. I can't stand not having finished, and I believe I learned enough that my next trip should avoid the obstacles I set for myself. Along with breaking the hills up and taking a much more leisurely pace, I also am thinking that going solo might actually be easier. While I enjoyed the company and look forward to joining my partners again on other hikes, the feeling that I had to make camp instead of stopping made me push myself just over that line that separates fun from "why am I here?" and "should I leave a note for the person who finds the body?"

    Now I'm just deciding how to take my punishment. Come back in the spring and risk high water? Summer and put up with bugs, heat and dry creeks? Or fall when almost anything can happen? I'm sure I'll start at the FR106 trailhead and go CCW, trying to do no more than 3 mtns per day over 3.5 days. At least that's the plan.

    Finally, hats off to Caveman on a tremendous hike. He not only managed to make the cars on one long day, but did it at least an hour faster than I thought possible. He's da man!

    I think I lost my reading glasses crossing the Little Missouri south of Albert Pike. I should have asked Caveman if he wanted to go back and look for them. Now I'll have to drop another $2.50 at Walgreens!

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