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Ouachita Trail Day 11 – Tiger shirt

Waking up in Oak Mountain shelter the sunrise was spectacular. An amazing array of colors cut through the thin clouds and lit up the porch of our temporary home. It was a splendid moment and illustrated the simplistic beauty of nature and this life style. With true efficiency we packed up in a matter of minutes and continued moving East. In the 11 days on trail we have gotten quite good at all things backpacking. On our first morning we didn’t start hiking until after 8am, and now we can be on the trail at 7. This is largely due to Maggie netting 12 hours of sleep per night. I think her body is just ready to spring into action after the ample rest.

We logged miles quickly, too quickly. As it currently stands we have less than 60 miles left and 4 days to do it. Yet myself and especially Maggie are so good at hiking it is tough to slow down. The trail has gotten considerably easier, less rocky, and we have way to much food on our backs to fuel us through. We climbed up to the Flatside Pinnacle and I made the compelling argument that we HAD to climb to the top. I’m glad we did, because at one of the best views on the trail I was able to take some tastefully nude photos for the PG-13 calendar I will put out some day. After I had thoroughly embarrassed Maggie, we continued on our way. The miles were gentle all the way to Brown Creek Shelter. At the shelter Maggie whipped off her shoes and socks while I tied mine tighter and went on a jog.

Now, I always run in my tiger sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. The technical wicking fabric constructed in China offers both comfort and the reassurance of the tiger face plastered on the chest. Coincidentally I met possibly the only other human on earth who could appreciate the sweatshirt as much as I do. He was 5. I only know how old he was because he told me, along with how much he liked my shirt, that he was hiking in his pajamas and that he saw an old house (the shelter). He must have known the conversation would be quick as I ran by because he slipped in every worthwhile piece of information in that moment. Kids sure are fun, especially when you wear a sweatshirt with a tiger on it!

After the run we hiked on and climbed out second of two pinnacles of the day. Pinnacle is simply the name they have on the map. In reality they were huge viewpoints towering above all the Arkansas wilderness. It was wonderful to get to look around after finally climbing out of the trees for a few minutes. It put every rolling hill in perspective and illustrated the vast Ouachita National Forest. We climbed down from the pinnacle and hiked another hour to camp next to a small creek. In that hour we heard countless fun shots, howling coyotes and the sounds of traffic. Even in a vast forest, civilization is never far away.

Ouachita Trail thru hike
Ouachita Trail thru hike

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