Gathering in the Ouachitas


Josh Hamilton makes fire from a bow drill

Each October, backpackers and hikers gather in the Ouachita Mountains to share outdoor skills, backpacking tips and reports from the trails.   The event, known as The Gathering, includes food, fellowship, and beautiful surroundings.

IMG_3391rrThis year I was honored to share Five Star Trails: The Ozarks and a report of the John Muir Trail from last summer’s trip. I like starting with the JMT to make the point that there’s no visual letdown when the mountains of Arkansas follow in the program.


One of the views on the walk from the campground to the pavilion

Shady Lake is an ideal location in the Ouachitas. It’s a little out of the way which adds to the beauty and limits crowds in the campground. It has a homey feel, plenty of beauty, and great hiking trails.


Sean Dupre demonstrates water purification techniques

Backpacking Arkansas (also known as BPA) is a true grassroots story. Tomas Trigg started a forum for backpackers and hikers several years ago. It gained many followers and eventually led to a desire for the online community to meet in person, hence The Gathering.

For seven years, this loosely connected community has “gathered” somewhere in the Ouachitas. Sean Dupre took the rains when Tomas relocated and wasn’t able to continue coordinating the event. Commitment to the group is reflected in the fact that that Tomas continues to maintain the website and pay for its domain. Backpacking Arkansas has now added a Facebook page so be sure to follow.

Sean did a great job coordinating The Gathering for two years, despite living in Texas. This coming year, the job goes to Mark Davis, and The Gathering tradition, seven years strong, continues.


Hiker-dog enjoyed exploring the creek that feeds Shady Lake.

Join us next year on October 19-21, 2018. You’ll enjoy the fellowship, sharing of skills, and learning about new trails in the Ouachitas and Ozarks!

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