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OHT Day 5

It poured all night. And when I mean poured, I mean like the end of the world style downpour. I tried to close my eyes, sleeping and ignoring it, but eventually enough water had fallen from the sky that I woke up in a puddle. A three inches deep puddle covered the floor of my tent and it was an ominous sign for the day. At 5am I couldn’t take it anymore and carried my drenched pack and food bag over to the outhouse. I worked under the covered outer porch portion to make myself some coffee to feel my hands a bit before committing to hitting the trail again. By 5:30 I was packing up the drenched tent and the only other camper at the campground came over to say hi. Sebastian was exactly what you would expect from someone saying they are from the Arkansas hills. He was nice, offered the edge of his blue tarp for me to pack up, and had some very local knowledge to impart. Then I was off.

It rained hard all morning. I didn’t know what was going to play out with the day and then I arrived at Hurricane Creek. The first crossing of it was precarious. It was deep, but I just plowed my way through the water and used some standing on large boulders just beneath the water. The rain was coming down hard. Buckets of rain drenched me and my gear. Then I got to the second crossing and my jaw dropped. It was swollen and had swollowed up large trees on the banks. I walked to where the river bank usually was, and it was past my knees. It was going to be a dangerous crossing. I didn’t like the look of where the trail was… it was muddle with the flash flooding, and moving swiftly. Knowing I would have to swim, I was looking for a place where it was deep and gentle. I knew I could kick across the forty degree water, I just needed the safe place to do it. I walked up stream about half a mile and found my spot. I walked to the edge of the large creek and wrapped my arms around a tree. Then I lowered my body into the water. All my stuff was stowed to manage the crossing. Immediately upon lowering myself over the edge I was waist deep. I edged along the bottom, controlling my breathing to block out the cold. I had to maintain perfect control of my body to get through the 60 feet of swimming. Then my feet stopped hitting the bottom. I pulled my chin up and started stroking with my arms and kicking with my arms. It felt endless, but it was smooth. Currently slowly pulled me down, but I had picked a good spot. A few strokes later and I felt the rocks of the other bank. I was sooo cold. I quickly put on some layers and started quickly hiking. Within a few miles it started to snow. The day was just falling apart.

The rain gauge for the creek I had to cross.

Hurricane Creek Water Data

Then I came to Highway 7. I was 22 miles into the day and the forcast predicted a low in the low teens for the temperature. I stuck out my thumb. A nice couple grabbed me in their minivan and told me the history of the area on the drive into Russellville. They had been in the area for generations and dropped me right at my hotel. I ventured to the all you can eat buffet and then spent the rest of the night drying my gear in the hotel.

Swollen Hurrican Creek

Ozark Highlands Trail Hurricane Creek

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