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Ouachita Trail Day 13 – The Terminus

We knew it would rain on our last day. Which is largely why we hiked deeper into the night than usual. Luckily, this only gave us 11 wet miles to complete in order to finish our thru hike of the Ouachita Trail. The rain was sporadic throughout the night, and with our taunt dyneema tent, each drop made a BOING sound as it trampolined off the top of our shelter. I was willing to stick it out in my sleeping bag as late as possible and maybe start with a casual coffee, but Maggie was itching to get hiking. About 7:45am when we packed up it was only a light drizzle, but within 3 miles the precipitation had really picked up. It was our most miserable day on the trail.

Maggie cinched up her good, obscuring any view of her face and blindly walked through the downpour and I followed in my cowboy hat. It simply became a “DONT stop walking,” routine. The one time I stopped for water we realized how wet and cold we were, and didn’t make the mistake again. For once, the trail was flat but we wished for hills. The flat muddy expanse leading up to pinnacle state park offered no opportunities to get our heart rates up or warm ourselves from within, so we clambered on.

As with any epic finish, we made a wrong turn .5 miles before the terminus. It was so wet that neither of us wanted to pull out our phones and we simply kept walking. 1/4 mile down the wrong road we were in a large hay field and immediately knew it was not the right way. We smiled in misery and trudged back through the mud toward the terminus of our trail. We finished in a blaze of glory, hundreds of people and animals lined the trail applauding our incredible feat. It is the welcome every Ouachita Trail finisher gets in Arkansas. Ok…that did not happen. Sheets of rain fell and we arrived at a parking lot with the trail sign next to it and a father with two young kids getting in his car. Maggie’s hands were so cold she could use them, and I wanted more than just a selfie for our finish photo, so we asked the father of the kids to get our commemorative terminus photo. After that was over we walked to the visitors center and just hoped it was open…it was!

I used the hand drier to warm my fingers, and then walked out to see Maggie trying to use a zipper with two useless white hands full of dead digits. It was comical and really illustrated how rough the last ten miles were. With a few postcards in tow, we walked outside and got in a truck much too nice for us, driven by Rex, who Maggie had coordinated with from Little Rock. He drove us down to Walmart where Maggie expanded her cat themed wardrobe with some dry clothes and fuzzy Christmas socks. I got some very slimming $7 sweatpants. Looking real good, we got back in the car with Rex and he gave us the tour of the capitol of Arkansas. We went by central high school (where the Little Rock 9 took place), through downtown, a couple breweries, and Rex even got us a hotel room. It was a great way to end a tough day on a great trail in a state neither of us had ever been to!

The terminus of the Ouachita Trail
The terminus of the Ouachita Trail
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