Ouachita Trail: Hwy 71 to Queen Wilhelmina State Park

It’s good to be back in the saddle again after a too-long break. Following hernia surgery, I was limited to day hiking for six weeks, so I did a lot of day hiking which helped speed my recovery. Once backpacking was back on my menu, I put some books in my bear canister for weight and walked the Lake Alma Trail with a loaded pack for a couple of weeks.

After some of the climbs on this section of the Ouachita Trail I was glad I did that preparation work. We had a great time!

After recent rains the creeks were all running clean so water wasn’t a challenge as it sometimes is on the Ouachita Trail.

Now that we’re retired, we’ve gotten in the habit of “weather shopping” and heading out during good weather windows. I felt guilty recently and purposely suited up and carried my pack on a rainy day hike just to stay in practice since hiking in rain adds a new set of challenges. On this trip we were expecting cold temperatures at night, but we never dipped below freezing.

Black Fork Mountain Shelter

Kerry packed out some empty plastic water jugs left in the area by previous hikers.

We enjoyed hearing trains and owls during the night. We crossed these railroad tracks close to Hwy 270 as we hiked west. Bob is in the distance stepping across the rails.

As we approached Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, I stopped to enjoy the view. I found myself walking slowly and wishing the trip wouldn’t end. This was a good time to give a respectful nod to the Ouachita Mountains and pause in thanksgiving for the beauty of creation, good friends, and good health. We had a great time on the Ouachita Trail!

Lover's Leap overlook

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