Thursday, March 1, 2012

First 2012 Hikers at Lake Ouachita-Caddo Trail

Good morning!

After looking at my blog I see that I need to update a lot of posts and add more entries about all the hikes I've been on lately.  I'll do that before I head out to Springer at the end of the month, promise!

Yesterday, I went to Lake Ouachita and hiked the Caddo trail. (we were the first hikers allowed on this trail this year due to previous storm damage) On the map, it looked kinda flat and boring.  I thought it was just a cute little trail that followed the peninsula on the shore of the lake.  WRONG.  It was four miles of very creative ups and downs.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I had a WONDERFUL time.  The rangers were very helpful and friendly and the crew there had done a FANTASTIC job of clearing the trail from the storm damage.  I was very impressed that they'd done so much work.

Last spring, Lake Ouachita was hit by tornadoes.  The tornado cut a huge path of destruction thru the forest and down by the lake.  The first and last parts of the trail (it was a loop) were all downed trees and small fires where the rangers were burning off the damaged trees.  After getting past the fires, the scenery improved a lot.  The lake was gorgeous!  The trail was designed to give you great lake views.  We would gain some elevation and see stunning vistas, then we'd go steeply down again and hike near the shoreline.  Around the next bend, it was straight up again.  Rinse and repeat.  You get the idea.  It was a very intense workout for me.  I am still out of shape and was carrying a full pack.  It was also pretty toasty warm outside that day.  The only thing I'd change would be to add a couple more benches along the trail.

It was my first day humping my new fully loaded Mountainsmith Falcon 55 pack.  I'm not one for doing anything gradually so I just filled that pack up and swore it wasn't coming off till I was finished.  My hiking buddy "Speedy" is retired US Navy and used to hump a pack with the Marines.  Talk about incentive!    We did that 4 mile trail in about 4 hours.  Pretty damn good, IMHO.

We stopped for lunch on a bridge and I cooked some Ramen noodles.  I used the yellow bottle of HEET for the first time.  It cooks a lot better than the denatured alcohol and I like that it's in its own bottle.  I'll be using HEET yellow from now on.  While we waited for the noodles to boil, I whipped out 2 cans of barbeque vienna sausages.  Nom.  For dessert, we split a Kashi bar.

It was almost 80 degrees here in  central Arkansas yesterday.  We went thru 6 bottles of water and my Nalgene.  I was thirsty when we got to the car.  I inhaled a Coke from the visitor center.  I could have drunk a 2-liter of cold bubbly heaven.

There were several times where I just flopped down on my pack and laid down right on the trail.  Once I cried.  Despite this, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when we got finished.

Yesterday afternoon, post-hike,  I came home and showered, ---ahhh what heaven that hot water is! --- put on my favorite tee-shirt like nightgown and WENT TO BED.  Yes, I was in bed before 5pm.  Speedy whipped up a cool meal of cut up sausages fried with onions (YUM), green beans, corn, and mac n cheese.  I inhaled that plate food and went to sleep for about 3 hours.  I got back up around 8 and had 2 packs of Ramen noodles.  I felt famished!  I can only imagine how much bigger my appetite will become on the AT.

I think I've found the perfect hiker snack food, based on weight to calorie ratio:  PORK SKINS.  They are incredibly light and fantastically full of fat!  I think I'll be clipping a bag of them on my pack.  Just please, don't call me PorkSkin.  Now, If I can only find a cheap beer Sherpa...

This morning I am aching in places I didn't know existed.  I almost feel human again after 2 giants cups of coffee.  Almost.   I do however, feel very much ALIVE.  It's a great feeling.

I think I could get used to this pretty quickly and I'm really looking forward to the AT.

Now, I'm going to go do battle with Verizon again.  They keep trying to make me pay a $350.00 charge that I don't owe.  Wish me luck.

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