Wednesday May 21, 2014, hiking the Eagle Rock Loop (ERL).
The plan was for Caveman and I to hike the Eagle Rock Loop, then the Buckeye and the Caney Creek Trails, until Caveman got very sick. We’d also added Gimpy, who wanted to do a shake-down hike for his Colorado Trail trip. And Zeddy was also in the mix. So on Wednesday 5/21/2014, Gimpy and I headed out. Caveman and Zeddy had delayed and would try and meet up with us at the Caney Creek eastern trail head, Friday afternoon. Except they never made it.
Gimpy arrived at my house at 9:30 with a very low front tire. So we changed that out and aired it up before hitting the road. We made it to Texarkana for lunch. After that, we were heading north into the ERL area. We went past Albert Pike and then out the FR roads to the far north western corner, the Little Missouri parking lot. We started hiking at 4:15. We did four mountains all the way to the FR106 and the Blaylock Creek parking area. We put our packs down at a camp area, and then walked to the parking lot and road. We found a nice car camper who suggested a better camping area, so we moved to that area. I hung my hammock, filtered water, cooked some noodles. Gimpy was using his Gossamer Gear tent on the ERL, as on the CT, he won’t have trees on some of it. We talked until 9 PM and then turned in. I had hung my tarp but didn’t deploy it as the sky was clear. I would hang my tarp and never deploy it for the rest of the trip. I didn’t fall asleep until after midnight.
Thursday 5/21/2014, hiking the ERL.
We got up at first light and were hiking at 7:30 AM and would hike until 6 PM. At the top of Brush Heap Mountain, I took the side trail and attempted to find the summit. The trail slowly vanished in all the grass. Gimpy and I also walked over to the summit of Eagle Rock Vista. We ran across several hikers. One had started at daybreak at the same lot we’d parked in. He passed us at Winding Stairs where we were stopped getting water and lunch. At Winding Stairs near the trail head lot, we got almost lost on the very confusing and not very well blazed or signed trails. There are horse trails, the trail itself, parking lot trails and they all use the same blaze color. We hiked into Albert pike to use the restroom and kept going. Several fords on the Little Missouri were hard to find a good place to ford. We’d been taking our shoes off and putting on crocs or other water shoes for many of them. We found a marked camp area around two miles before the Little Missouri falls to camp at. We set up camp, filtered water, ate and went to bed.
Friday 5/22/2014, finishing the ERL and headed to Buckeye trail
We got up around 6:30 AM and ate, broke camp and started hiking. We took a quick break at the Little Missouri falls, where some people were camped. We stopped at the Little Mo day use area to use the restroom and eat a snack. Then it was off on the trail to the car. We ran into more and more people. This was the Friday going into the Memorial Day weekend and we thought there would be more people than there were around. A group of men were hiking, their packs were large, but they were still fresh and doing well. Then we hit a group of two older couples and several other people with them, looking like and REI store and an Eddy Bauer store collided. They were all overloaded and while we talked, one lady wobbled and had to be helped to sit down. They were only around a mile from their car and once out of ear-shot, Gimpy and I both said they had too much gear and only a mile in. There was no way they would finish the entire 26.8 miles. We made the car at 11:15, downed some drinks and then drove back to Albert Pike. At Albert Pike, we showered, changed camp clothes, ate something, Gimpy switched to his hammock, we filled up with water and then around 1:45, headed to the Caney Creek trail head, which took around 30 minutes to drive to on the Forrest Roads. (FR).
Caveman and Zeddy were to meet as at Caney Creek around 3 PM. We waited until 3:30, when Gimpy drove me and the gear to the Buckeye Trail head, which is on top of a mountain. Gimpy then drove to the bottom at Caney Creek and would hike up. He was lucky in that an Arkansas forest vehicle stopped and brought him up to the mountain top. The Buckeye Trail was pretty overgrown in areas, very exposed up on the ridge top. At places, it seemed to be mostly an animal track we followed. Since the Buckeye and Caney trails are in “Wilderness” areas, no blazes are allowed, however some is blazed anyway. In the grasses up there, I got chiggers and ticks on me, as did Gimpy. We finally turned due south and downhill on the Buckeye, heading to the Caney Creek trail and the Katy Falls area. The Katy falls was really neat. It is up a side trail. We moved past the first camp area to another area that was across the stream, a really nice area. We filtered water and cooked. While eating, I proposed to Gimpy that since Caveman and Zeddy had not made it, we could get up, hike the Caney Creek trail, which was our plan, but instead of camping again at the trail head, we could drive back to DFW. We went to bed at sundown. I heard something moving around near us and the next morning, Gimpy said the line on our bear-bag was moved around 10 feet from where it had been. We suspected a raccoon was about our camp site. I’d also heard an owl in the night and Gimpy said he awoke to some coyotes or a dog at one point.
Saturday 5/24/2014, hiking the Caney Creek trail out and back.
We awoke with the sun. While eating, Gimpy said he had thought about my idea and said we could see how the hike went and perhaps if we got to the car by a decent time, head back to DFW. By 7:30, we were on the Caney Creek Trail, heading west from where the Buckeye joined the Caney Creek trail. The first several water crossings were rock hops. But by the later one’s, I managed to slip and fall not once, but twice, into the creek. Gimpy got a good laugh at me. We reached the Cossatot River and the western trail head by 11:15. We snacked and drank all our water. We then headed back from whence we came, stopping to filter water at the Cossatot. While hiking, four trail runners came by us. They were moving and sweating buckets on the trail. We then hiked two more hours until we stopped for a break and ate something. We sat on a log right on the trail, and managed to be found by more ticks. We got moving again and hiked past where the Buckeye joined the trail. Just a bit after that, we stopped to filter more water and eat another snack. After that, the creek crossings were getting smaller and we were able to rock hop them. A young couple out for a day hike stopped and we talked. We then ran into a family with two small children, also on a day hike. At the final creek crossing, we found another family with overloaded packs. They were lost, thinking they were already at the second crossing and were looking for Katy falls. We showed them where they were. We doubt they were going on to the Katy Falls as they were overloaded. The trail runners then began catching up with us. My left heel was hurting and getting a blister, but I kept going with a vision of a cold drink at the car in my head. And it started to lightly sprinkle. It wasn’t heavy enough to get us wet. We reached the eastern trail head and our car around 4. We headed into Texarkana and got there at 6 for burgers and to fuel the car. A great trip.
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