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The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.

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Offline dprather

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The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« on: October 28, 2017, 08:06:56 PM »
The Eagle Rock Loop (ERL) just keeps calling me back.  Part of the Ouachita National Forest, the ERL is located in SW Arkansas. Ouachita is proto-Arkansan for heavily wooded and well-watered hills that are untroubled by federal officials who wear funny hats (Presidio – please check that translation for me).  The call consists of awesome natural beauty, considerable backpacking challenges, plus easy driving access from Texas.

This is my 5th ERL, one of them solo.  Instead of blending in among all the others, this trip will stand out.  This time, I shared the ERL with BBC’s own JALCO.

A closed-circuit loop of some 28 miles, the ERL is about two hours from Texarkana; (i) go to Texarkana, (ii) go to Hope, Arkansas, (iii) go north to Nashville, Arkansas, and (iv) finally go to tiny Langley, Arkansas, which is the door to the ERL.  Keep going about six miles north to the abandoned Albert Pike Rec Area, and you have arrived at the SE trailhead of the ERL.

My oldest son kidded me about this trip being a “blind date.”  JALCO and I had read each other’s BBC musings and have shared a few PMs, but we had never met.  JALCO mentioned that heat and humidity had ended a previous, summer ERL attempt.  Needing some wilderness time, I shot an invitation PM to JALCO to join me for an ERL, and he accepted.  The rest is delightful history.

No standard geometrical shape accurately describes the ERL.  It has five distinct legs, but is not a standard pentagon.  The longest leg, the Athens-Bigfork, is also the toughest, requiring ups and downs over six hilly ridges.  None of the six equal one Pinnacles, but the ups and downs just keep coming at you and are really tough in sequence.     

If there was the first tough moment between JALCO and I, I missed it.  We are both veteran trailsmen and struggling Christians.  We also both share the same generation, with JALCO being born in ’58 and me in ’55.  The combination of values and experiences instantly and seamlessly formed an effective and enjoyable backpacking partnership. 

“Water, water, everywhere” is a phrase that accurately describes the ERL.  Three of the five legs parallel major streams, including the Little Missouri River.  Backpackers on the ERL are never much more than one hour from water anywhere on the trail.  I took a SAWYER MINI (recommended) and could have easily gone with only one liter at a time (also recommended).

JALCO and I also share many of the same personality traits.  The first moment of awkwardness was brief.  Afterwards, we spoke of our shared Christian faith, our families, our careers, and all of the other bits and pieces that make us who we are.  Our steps were rare along the ERL when we were not telling about ourselves, or quizzing the other about them.  What's not to like about that?

Fall had fallen on the ERL’s trees, which were turning into fall colors, especially in higher reaches.  Compared to SE Texas, late fall had also fallen.  Prepared for mid-70s days and mid-50s nights, we got the first but not the second.  Nights in our neck of the Ouachitas dropped into the mid-30s – according to a couple of other backpackers we ran into who had accurate thermometers, and sleepless nights.

Neither of us were prepared for the cold weather, which was part of the first honest cold spell of this winter.  JALCO had an un-skirted hammock.  I had a tent, but only a light-weight bag.  Only “mind over misery” allowed exhaustion to put us into fitful sleep with chattering teeth.

Here is the itinerary we followed:

1.   We began at the Little Missouri Falls parking area, the NE trailhead, and got on the trail at about 3:PM on Monday October 23, 2017.  Our direction was untraditionally counterclockwise.  Our goal that first afternoon was to go 4.1 miles to the next trailhead, but we made far better time than anticipated and we put in another two miles, up and down the northernmost ridge on the Athens-Bigfork leg.

2.   Tuesday put us up and down over the next five Athens-Bigfork ridges, and Tuesday evening was celebratory because that was behind us.   

3.   We took it easy on Wednesday.  Low water levels left only two shoes-off and COLD-water crossings, and we finished them both off on this day.  Arriving early afternoon at JALCO’s cached truck at the Winding Stairs parking area, we snuck into the (only) Langley store for a cheeseburger. 

4.   Cathching weather reports from passing backpackers, we learned that inclement weather was approaching.  That did not rush us toward the end of the trail at Little Missouri Falls parking area, but our pace was deliberate on Thursday.  We arrived 72 hours from starting at about 3:PM, so our trip was two half-days, two full days, and three chilly nights.  This is a good, enjoyable pace for the ERL.

How was our “blind date?”  JALCO and I are already planning a yakpaking/backpacking loop of Village Creek in SE Texas for the spring. I’d say our recent ERL was a 100% success.

I do have one complaint – an indirect one.  JALCO’s wife makes the most incredibly AWESOME fruitcake cookie bars, but refuses to share the recipe (what's with that?).  Cut into 1”x2” pieces and liberally snacked while walking, these things are far better than any commercially available trail bar, and are filled with yummy nuts, candied fruit, and energy-returning and buttery sweetness.  There ought to be a law about hoarding recipes.  If she does not soon add this recipe to the “Trail Meals” thread, then JALCO’s wife deserves BBC’s most scathing censure (>:().
 
« Last Edit: October 28, 2017, 08:36:52 PM by dprather »
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline presidio

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2017, 08:19:22 PM »
Ouachita is proto-Arkansan for heavily wooded and well-watered hills that are untroubled by federal officials who wear funny hats (Presidio – please check that translation for me).

Per the words of Lisa (Marisa Tomei) in My Cousin Vinny, you are "dead on balls accurate!"

Well done, fellow Contrarian.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2017, 04:50:05 PM »
The Eagle Rock Loop (ERL) just keeps calling me back.  Part of the Ouachita National Forest, the ERL is located in SW Arkansas. Ouachita is proto-Arkansan for heavily wooded and well-watered hills that are untroubled by federal officials who wear funny hats (Presidio – please check that translation for me).  The call consists of awesome natural beauty, considerable backpacking challenges, plus easy driving access from Texas.

This is my 5th ERL, one of them solo.  Instead of blending in among all the others, this trip will stand out.  This time, I shared the ERL with BBC’s own JALCO.

A closed-circuit loop of some 28 miles, the ERL is about two hours from Texarkana; (i) go to Texarkana, (ii) go to Hope, Arkansas, (iii) go north to Nashville, Arkansas, and (iv) finally go to tiny Langley, Arkansas, which is the door to the ERL.  Keep going about six miles north to the abandoned Albert Pike Rec Area, and you have arrived at the SE trailhead of the ERL.

My oldest son kidded me about this trip being a “blind date.”  JALCO and I had read each other’s BBC musings and have shared a few PMs, but we had never met.  JALCO mentioned that heat and humidity had ended a previous, summer ERL attempt.  Needing some wilderness time, I shot an invitation PM to JALCO to join me for an ERL, and he accepted.  The rest is delightful history.

No standard geometrical shape accurately describes the ERL.  It has five distinct legs, but is not a standard pentagon.  The longest leg, the Athens-Bigfork, is also the toughest, requiring ups and downs over six hilly ridges.  None of the six equal one Pinnacles, but the ups and downs just keep coming at you and are really tough in sequence.     

If there was the first tough moment between JALCO and I, I missed it.  We are both veteran trailsmen and struggling Christians.  We also both share the same generation, with JALCO being born in ’58 and me in ’55.  The combination of values and experiences instantly and seamlessly formed an effective and enjoyable backpacking partnership. 

“Water, water, everywhere” is a phrase that accurately describes the ERL.  Three of the five legs parallel major streams, including the Little Missouri River.  Backpackers on the ERL are never much more than one hour from water anywhere on the trail.  I took a SAWYER MINI (recommended) and could have easily gone with only one liter at a time (also recommended).

JALCO and I also share many of the same personality traits.  The first moment of awkwardness was brief.  Afterwards, we spoke of our shared Christian faith, our families, our careers, and all of the other bits and pieces that make us who we are.  Our steps were rare along the ERL when we were not telling about ourselves, or quizzing the other about them.  What's not to like about that?

Fall had fallen on the ERL’s trees, which were turning into fall colors, especially in higher reaches.  Compared to SE Texas, late fall had also fallen.  Prepared for mid-70s days and mid-50s nights, we got the first but not the second.  Nights in our neck of the Ouachitas dropped into the mid-30s – according to a couple of other backpackers we ran into who had accurate thermometers, and sleepless nights.

Neither of us were prepared for the cold weather, which was part of the first honest cold spell of this winter.  JALCO had an un-skirted hammock.  I had a tent, but only a light-weight bag.  Only “mind over misery” allowed exhaustion to put us into fitful sleep with chattering teeth.

Here is the itinerary we followed:

1.We began at the Little Missouri Falls parking area, the NE trailhead, and got on the trail at about 3:PM on Monday October 23, 2017.  Our direction was untraditionally counterclockwise.  Our goal that first afternoon was to go 4.1 miles to the next trailhead, but we made far better time than anticipated and we put in another two miles, up and down the northernmost ridge on the Athens-Bigfork leg.

2.Tuesday put us up and down over the next five Athens-Bigfork ridges, and Tuesday evening was celebratory because that was behind us.   

3.We took it easy on Wednesday.  Low water levels left only two shoes-off and COLD-water crossings, and we finished them both off on this day.  Arriving early afternoon at JALCO’s cached truck at the Winding Stairs parking area, we snuck into the (only) Langley store for a cheeseburger. 

4.Cathching weather reports from passing backpackers, we learned that inclement weather was approaching.  That did not rush us toward the end of the trail at Little Missouri Falls parking area, but our pace was deliberate on Thursday.  We arrived 72 hours from starting at about 3:PM, so our trip was two half-days, two full days, and three chilly nights.  This is a good, enjoyable pace for the ERL.

How was our “blind date?”  JALCO and I are already planning a yakpaking/backpacking loop of Village Creek in SE Texas for the spring. I’d say our recent ERL was a 100% success.

I do have one complaint – an indirect one.  JALCO’s wife makes the most incredibly AWESOME fruitcake cookie bars, but refuses to share the recipe (what's with that?).  Cut into 1”x2” pieces and liberally snacked while walking, these things are far better than any commercially available trail bar, and are filled with yummy nuts, candied fruit, and energy-returning and buttery sweetness.  There ought to be a law about hoarding recipes.  If she does not soon add this recipe to the “Trail Meals” thread, then JALCO’s wife deserves BBC’s most scathing censure (>:().
 

Well done, gentlemen! The beginning of a beautiful friendship, indeed. I found myself smiling a big, wide grin from start to finish. You are a great writer, dprather. Thanks fo sharing.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Jalco

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2017, 08:32:06 AM »
Well done, gentlemen! The beginning of a beautiful friendship, indeed. I found myself smiling a big, wide grin from start to finish. You are a great writer, dprather. Thanks for sharing.

+1 on the great write-up!  HMOD, I can assure you there was much laughter along the trail as well, which made for light steps.  To borrow a phrase from the Old West, DPRATHER is "one to ride the river with", or, in this case, cross streams and ridges with.

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Offline RichardM

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 09:15:54 AM »
What, no pictures?  :icon_rolleyes:\\

JALCO has pics
« Last Edit: October 30, 2017, 10:23:11 AM by dprather »

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Offline dprather

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2017, 10:46:53 AM »
The ethic of "leave no trace" is not as strong along the ERL as in BiBe.

We encountered a LOT of seemingly abandoned equipment including a sleeping bag, two tarps, some camp furniture, and several fishing rods.  We also saw more bits of trash than we'd ever see in the Bend.  The ERL in not trashed, but the difference was noticeable.

There was another "trace" that had been left.  We first encountered a pair of "Pink" panties, conspicuously hanging in a tree branch .  Then, we encountered a bra (estimates ranged from "b" to "c" cup").  Finally we encountered a complete pant suit, a pair of black, shimmery, Italian-brand slacks and a shirt/top to match.  While not a Melania-level pantsuit, this was fairly high-dollar outfit to also be left conspicuously  hanging in tree branches along a trail.     

Being married men, we were not exactly sure if we wanted to find anything else!
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2017, 11:13:22 AM »
The ethic of "leave no trace" is not as strong along the ERL as in BiBe.

We encountered a LOT of seemingly abandoned equipment including a sleeping bag, two tarps, some camp furniture, and several fishing rods.  We also saw more bits of trash than we'd ever see in the Bend.  The ERL in not trashed, but the difference was noticeable.

There was another "trace" that had been left.  We first encountered a pair of "Pink" panties, conspicuously hanging in a tree branch .  Then, we encountered a bra (estimates ranged from "b" to "c" cup").  Finally we encountered a complete pant suit, a pair of black, shimmery, Italian-brand slacks and a shirt/top to match.  While not a Melania-level pantsuit, this was fairly high-dollar outfit to also be left conspicuously  hanging in tree branches along a trail.     

Being married men, we were not exactly sure if we wanted to find anything else!

 :icon_lol: What happens on the ERL, stays on the ERL. Apparently literally.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2017, 09:45:04 AM »
The ethic of "leave no trace" is not as strong along the ERL as in BiBe.



There was another "trace" that had been left.  We first encountered a pair of "Pink" panties, conspicuously hanging in a tree branch .  Then, we encountered a bra (estimates ranged from "b" to "c" cup").  Finally we encountered a complete pant suit, a pair of black, shimmery, Italian-brand slacks and a shirt/top to match.  While not a Melania-level pantsuit, this was fairly high-dollar outfit to also be left conspicuously  hanging in tree branches along a trail.     



Being in law enforcement, I deduced from the fact that you first found panties, then a bra, then a complete pant suit that you were going the wrong way!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2017, 09:53:06 AM »
The ethic of "leave no trace" is not as strong along the ERL as in BiBe.



There was another "trace" that had been left.  We first encountered a pair of "Pink" panties, conspicuously hanging in a tree branch .  Then, we encountered a bra (estimates ranged from "b" to "c" cup").  Finally we encountered a complete pant suit, a pair of black, shimmery, Italian-brand slacks and a shirt/top to match.  While not a Melania-level pantsuit, this was fairly high-dollar outfit to also be left conspicuously  hanging in tree branches along a trail.     



Being in law enforcement, I deduced from the fact that you first found panties, then a bra, then a complete pant suit that you were going the wrong way!

Precisely!   :1rij:
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2017, 11:26:36 AM »
The ethic of "leave no trace" is not as strong along the ERL as in BiBe.



There was another "trace" that had been left.  We first encountered a pair of "Pink" panties, conspicuously hanging in a tree branch .  Then, we encountered a bra (estimates ranged from "b" to "c" cup").  Finally we encountered a complete pant suit, a pair of black, shimmery, Italian-brand slacks and a shirt/top to match.  While not a Melania-level pantsuit, this was fairly high-dollar outfit to also be left conspicuously  hanging in tree branches along a trail.     



Being in law enforcement, I deduced from the fact that you first found panties, then a bra, then a complete pant suit that you were going the wrong way!

 :rolling:
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline dprather

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2017, 12:54:17 PM »
The ethic of "leave no trace" is not as strong along the ERL as in BiBe.



There was another "trace" that had been left.  We first encountered a pair of "Pink" panties, conspicuously hanging in a tree branch .  Then, we encountered a bra (estimates ranged from "b" to "c" cup").  Finally we encountered a complete pant suit, a pair of black, shimmery, Italian-brand slacks and a shirt/top to match.  While not a Melania-level pantsuit, this was fairly high-dollar outfit to also be left conspicuously  hanging in tree branches along a trail.     



Being in law enforcement, I deduced from the fact that you first found panties, then a bra, then a complete pant suit that you were going the wrong way!

In fact, we were going in a "contrarian" direction to the traditional clockwise route.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2017, 03:51:07 PM »
The ethic of "leave no trace" is not as strong along the ERL as in BiBe.



There was another "trace" that had been left.  We first encountered a pair of "Pink" panties, conspicuously hanging in a tree branch .  Then, we encountered a bra (estimates ranged from "b" to "c" cup").  Finally we encountered a complete pant suit, a pair of black, shimmery, Italian-brand slacks and a shirt/top to match.  While not a Melania-level pantsuit, this was fairly high-dollar outfit to also be left conspicuously  hanging in tree branches along a trail.     



Being in law enforcement, I deduced from the fact that you first found panties, then a bra, then a complete pant suit that you were going the wrong way!

In fact, we were going in a "contrarian" direction to the traditional clockwise route.
One of my hiking partners always wants to do loops counter-clockwise because he says it makes us younger by walking back in time.   ;)
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Jalco

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2017, 06:10:45 PM »
Is this any better?  If this doesn't work, I'll re-read the sticky on posting pics :willynilly:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/137700031@N02/7ix162

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2017, 07:05:39 PM »
The new link works for me!  :great:

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Offline dprather

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Re: The Eagle Rock Loop - JALCO & dprather - October 23-26, 2017.
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2017, 04:54:18 AM »
The ethic of "leave no trace" is not as strong along the ERL as in BiBe.



There was another "trace" that had been left.  We first encountered a pair of "Pink" panties, conspicuously hanging in a tree branch .  Then, we encountered a bra (estimates ranged from "b" to "c" cup").  Finally we encountered a complete pant suit, a pair of black, shimmery, Italian-brand slacks and a shirt/top to match.  While not a Melania-level pantsuit, this was fairly high-dollar outfit to also be left conspicuously  hanging in tree branches along a trail.     



Being in law enforcement, I deduced from the fact that you first found panties, then a bra, then a complete pant suit that you were going the wrong way!

In fact, we were going in a "contrarian" direction to the traditional clockwise route.
One of my hiking partners always wants to do loops counter-clockwise because he says it makes us younger by walking back in time.   ;)

Einsteinium relativity onthe trail
 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

 


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