Thursday, April 06, 2017

Lake Ouachita 2017 D2

So I'm not even sure how to characterize Day 2 other than...wet? Epic? Punishment? Beautiful? One day of riding had it all. All.

We began our day with a camp coffee and then some very pleasant singletrack trail followed by a fun descent off Sandlick Mt. It was all good.

And then it wasn't it.




Barely discernible, the pine needles and leaves made for a soft, dry trail. Very nice, even with a slight, little bump upwards out of camp.
 After our careening descent and a bit of route confusion, we found a concrete crossing of the Iron Fork river. I'm always amazed and weirded out to find infrastructure like this in the middle of the woods, but so be it. A wet crossing would have been a challenge, to say the least. We crossed and found just a bit of rideable trail before beginning our next hike-a-bike, the interminable hike-a-bike, the h-a-b from Hell, the Misery. We were faced with a 3.5-mile uphill in two stages, much of it already replete with briers and weeds on each side. While the previous two h-a-b's wended through pine forest, this one cut straight up the hillside in a clear-cut area, whose increased sunlight made the briers and weeds all that the more prominent. I hated it. Honestly. It wasn't fun. But we survived to again careen down the downhill and find ourselves on gravel.






Pondero's technique involved using his saddle to pull the machine along. I tended to use two handlebar positions to push. He was always faster than me on ascents, so I guess his style wins.


Clearcut. Gross.

More clearcut makes for a chunky un-fun trail, hot and bramble-y.

Black snake on the trail. Really interestingly, it was shaking its tail mimicking a rattlesnake. It eventually moved on, as did we.
Pondero action shot exiting the nameless 3rd mountain. Because I was consistently faster than him on the descents, I set up to get get the shot emptying out onto the road. To my surprise, I had to call "Car up!", as there was a white pickup coming up the hill. In short order we were met with kindness, as a couple (names I forget, sorry) got out and we commenced to have a 15-minute conversation about turkeys, bears, trails, the hills, and living out there. They were very nice and ended up filling up our water containers with what they had in the truck. An important aspect of the route was the lack of facilities from Saturday afternoon (Story) to Monday afternoon (Jessieville), so their refill cut down the anxiety of filtering water for the next day. Really nice folks.

Finally past the 3-hill h-a-b fest, our route next took us along gravel, paved, and gravel roads through and out of Mt.Tabor. What we did was gain 1500ft in 18 miles of gravel roads, first in reasonable conditions, then in rain, then in pouring rain. Pics became rare as the rain increased. It became "epic suffering". Frankly it was pretty hard. Not much more to say. We were really wet. And tired.


I like old buildings, the stories they tell, the stories they lose.






The aforementioned pics show dry-ish riders, because I stopped taking pictures in the driving rain. Pondero actually overshot our trailhead a bit, adding to our mile-long climb along the Ouachita Trail looking for our next shelter. At some point we might have had a bit confusion or even disagreement as to our actual route. Suffice to say wet, tired, a smidge cranky, and maybe "lost" was not an awesome way to end the day, but we pushed on a bit further to find Moonshine Shelter, a Godsend on the mountain.


Wet. Foggy. Wet.

With Pondero's encouragement, I set up my hammock using the wall pegs as did he and then we did a bit of this-and-that to keep warm and dry out. The storm winds were blowing up through the floor and through the roof eaves, buffeting our cold bodies. Pondero cooked an early supper to keep warm. We even discussed how to use our tarps to create a windblock in the shelter. Eventually the winds calmed and we were in our hammocks by 7pm. I suspect we were both asleep by 8, and amazingly, I awoke at 7.30am to find that Pondero had already cooked coffee and breakfast, all the while I was asleep. I still can't fathom that I slept for 11 hours. Amazing stuff for me.

Hammock style in the shelter. Worked like a charm.

Pondero with the thumbs up for his hammock style. He must have warmed up by then.

Evening skies clearing after our foggy, wet arrival. This was taken at 7.40pm. We were asleep not much after.







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