223 Miles and DONE!

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.

Heading our or the last 50 miles!

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.

Mid-continent cyclone on our rest day.

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 the people drinking beer in the lodge on Facebook are you?” Yep. They spent the horrible weather day (yesterday) in a shelter. 

East bound thru-hikers (Christopher and Shane) that survived the big storm.

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.

The intrepid hiker.

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.

New OT mile markers. Hard to see and harder to read.

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.

Aptly named Red Spring

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!

Tired hiker nearing the shelter.

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.

Yes, that is the trail. Note the blue blaze on the middle rock.

Then to Dead Horse Spring for water. But no horse.

Dead Horse Spring and much needed water.

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.

Emerson enjoying camp

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.

Horizontal hiking!

Met (and passed) four day hikers that are doing the trail  in short day sections.

You have to have hair like this to trail blog.

We are definitely ready to finish when we roll into Talimena State Park, the western end of the trail.

Waiting for Harold, the park ranger, and our car keys.
The requisite end-of-trail brew. Looks like Bert may have lost hers?

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..

I’m not even sure what that thing in the middle is…

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