After sitting out an historic weather event that brought cold temperatures, rain and 50 mph winds to the lovely Queen Wilhelmina Lodge (our rest day after seven days on the trail) we set out to complete the final 51.5 miles of the Ouachita Trail under a bright sunny (but cold and windy) sky.
Day 9, Thu, Mar 14 (OT 51.5 to OT 38.0)
After yesterday’s windy, rainy day this was a nice surprise. Still windy but sunny as we head out.
Fantastic weather all day. Trail was wet but significantly better than the other side of the lodge. First five miles followed the scenic byway before heading down to the Kiamichi River. Eight river crossings of the river. Eight! And we got wet on nearly every one.
Ran into a couple of east bound hikers, Christopher and Shane. “Hey, You aren’t people drinking beer in the lodge on Facebook are you?” Yep. They spent the horrible weather day (yesterday) in a shelter.
Big climb at the end of the day to get to a not so great camp site but everyone is upbeat – three days left! And had some wonderful views today. And we are now in Oklahoma – passed over the state line a few miles back.
Day 10, Fri, Mar 15 (OT 38.0 to OT 25.2)
Tough day – not as long as yesterday but lots of vertical – nearly 3,00o feet.
Did the 39 switchback Winding Stair ascent to the Winding Stair Shelter to end the day. Stopped at the aptly names Red Spring for some badly needed (and very iron flavored!) water and lunch.
Already occupied when we got here – Norris (Tampa) and Scott (Broken Arrow). Nice couple of section hikers who gave us Jolly Ranchers! Had one big water crossing that resulted in Emerson going for a swim. Only 25 miles left!
Day 11, Sat, Mar 16 (OT 25.2 to OT 13.2)
Gorgeous day. Sunny and 50’s and the wind has finally died down. Met lots of day/section hikers (weekend and spring break?). Stopped at Winding Stair CG to dump garbage and use the toilets – no water though. Trail has been generally good but sometimes a bit rocky and steep.
Then to Dead Horse Spring for water. But no horse.
Camped at a lovely rough spot with cell coverage! Used the coverage to called Lori (Blue Bell Cafe)- our car is waiting for us. Nice surprise.
Day 12, Sat, Mar 17 (OT 13.2 to OT 0.0)
Another beautiful sunny morning! Last night was a bit warmer – definitely in the high 30’s so will be a bit warmer today.
Decided to stash Bert’s pack and our tents at Deadman’s Pass near our last water cache bear OT 8.0 (Bert is having some problems with her glute and drooping weight should help). Will pick them up on the way back to Mt Ida.
Met (and passed) four day hikers that are doing the trail in short day sections.
We are definitely ready to finish when we roll into Talimena State Park, the western end of the trail.
Well, after two years and 223 miles (134.5 this year) we completed the Ouachita Trail. Met some nice people, saw some lovely views, crossed (and re-crossed!) some fine streams and had (at the end) absolutely beautiful weather. We finished tired and happy. Oh… here is the requisite blister pic..