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Ouachita Trail Day 2 – Winding Stair

We woke up late. The last two months were a whirlwind for both of us, and camping on the trail offered a tranquility that lended itself to stress free sleeping. Finally at 8am, after we had both been awake for an hour, I asked Maggie if she wanted to start hiking soon. Of course she did. But the laying deep into the morning was almost like a trance that was waiting for one of us to speak up. After I said the words, we were quickly packed up and moving eastbound. It was a wonderful morning. The temperature was pleasant and inviting and the leaves crunched enthusiastically under our feet. The trees all around were bare, their leaves were all covering the trail. The hiking was hard, the hills were short but difficult to gain traction on with the mountains of leaves, but with a clear sky we didn’t want to be anywhere else. Mid day we stopped at a tiny glowing spring, refilled and ate our lunch. It was at this moment we learned why Maggie’s pack weighed so much. She pulled out a 4 pound bag of candy left in her pack from the last hike. Luckily I was craving chocolate and found a few non licorice flavored candies. Thoroughly motivated by the sugar, we crunches through more leaves. Slept and falls were common with the concealed loose rocks under the disposed foliage. Maggie had one magnificent fall ending in a scrape and I had one only saved by a perfectly placed tree to grab on my fall to the earth. We took a short break at Holson Valley shelter, where two ladies were enjoying a fire and sparked your a nice conversation. One was from Tulsa and the other from Hot Springs, AR. We chatted about the unexpected difficulty of the trail and they immediately offered up that we had just been through the most difficult section. They had extra water and I gladly took it, going further to offer carrying out trash and the empty gallon jug from the shelter. It took 17 miles to see our first people on the trail, and these ladies were great company and knowledgeable about the trail we had neglected to plan well. The evening was tame, completing a perfect day of temperatures. My goal for the hike was not simply to hike the Ouachita Trail, but also to get back to my baseline fitness level that had been fleeting since the Colorado Trail record. This meant I wanted to sneak a job in each day. So, Maggie and I redistributed our shared gear so

she had the tent tot set up at camp if she got there first, and somehow I got left with her 4 pound candy bag. My pack gained at least 3 pounds during the exchange! I powered ahead to Horsethief Springs Picnic Area and got my evening run in. After 4 miles I was back at my stuff and it was getting dark, so I hoofed it to meet up and camp with Maggie at Winding Stair Campground. 21 miles of hiking, 4 miles of running and peace and quiet all day!

A structure on the Ouachita Trail
A structure on the Ouachita Trail

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