Here are my top five posts in no particular order based on views for 2017. Following these five are my personal favorites for 2017, posts that were particularly rewarding to write or that reflect on an experience I enjoyed on the trail.
In 2012 when I first started this blog, I had no idea that it would provide such enjoyment and learning. Thank you for reading and letting me share my love of the trails! Pass OzarkMountainHiker.com along to others who love the outdoors.
It’s startling when you come across a human being who is authentic, demonstrating a congruence between thoughts, actions, and beliefs. Nimblewill is such a person. I’ve visited with him and heard two presentations, one after his Pony Express Historic Trail and the second time after he walked Historic Route 66 from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA.
As he shared honestly and emotionally from the joy he experienced on Route 66, I pictured him walking mile after mile as little pieces of pretense and imitation fell to the ground. Finally, there was only the core person walking on, completely real, alive, and true. This is the person we see now, but he has been years and many miles in the making.
On long walks, I’ve sometimes felt little flakes of my inauthentic self fall away. There might be a tinge of pain or a gentle sense of loss, followed by a lightness of mind and spirit. Sometimes it’s a chunk of fakeness I’ve projected to others in seeking their approval. This dropping away can be a relief, even if I’m barely conscious of the change as it occurs.
It will take many miles before I experience even a small measure of the trueness that Nimblewill has accomplished and maintains within himself.
Regardless of the distance, it is good that we walk. Step by step, the trail will perform her sanding and buffing as we approach our more genuine selves.
Walk on Nimblewill, and we will follow you toward authenticity.
I had the pleasure of hearing Nimblewill’s presentation two years ago and am looking forward to stories from his recent trek on Historic Route 66 from Chicago to the west coast. He’s an inspiration to all who meet him, so mark your calendar for December 10 so you don’t miss this opportunity!
Nimblewill Nomad (M. J. Eberhart) is somewhere on the western side of the United States completing Odyssey 2017: Historic Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. His walk began in July and will end in late November, covering 2,300 miles.
Nimblewill is kindhearted, a gentleman, and a powerful long-distance backpacker! After retirement, he began walking, and he hasn’t stopped. A few years ago, he did the “Triple O” the Ouachita Trail, Ozark Highlands Trail, and Ozark Trail in Missouri. He walked from the end of one trail to the beginning of the next. His book, Ten Million Steps, tells the story of his walk from the Florida Keys to Quebec, Canada.
Nimblewill is tentatively scheduled to speak at the December 10 meeting of the Ozark Highlands Trail Association, beginning at 6 p.m. He’ll share his Route 66 Trek and probably throw a poem or two in for good measure. His book, Ten Million Steps, will be available for purchase and signing.
You’ll not want to miss this!
Ozark Highlands Trail Association December 10 meeting
Where? 2536 N. McConnell Rd! To get there from I-540 take Exit 66 south on AR 112 (Garland Ave), turn west at Drake Street stop light to reach McConnell Rd, turn south to Washington County Extension Service near the fair grounds. 36.098 latitude 94.180 longitude for gps users.
Would I like to schedule a book signing in Northwest Arkansas on October 22 or drive into the Ouachita Mountains and meet Nimblewill Nomad? The answer was easy! Saturday morning, Hiker-dog and I hopped into the Jeep and drove the 125 miles south, arriving at Shady Lake by 10:00 a.m.
Pavilion at Shady Lake
Backpacking Arkansas (BPA) began as a web forum where hikers share knowledge, serve the trails, and draw inspiration. Once a year, an event is held where a portion of members of the forum meet and greet and share educational sessions.
First aid demonstration
When we arrived, Gerry helped get me sign in. He recognized my forum name and asked about Hiker-dog. Turns out he has followed our trail stories, so it was fun to put a face to a blog name. Nimblewill was scheduled for the afternoon. We enjoyed a first aid session before breaking for lunch.
Randy and Nimblewill enjoying lunch in the sun.
Randy, a fellow board member of the Ozark Highlands Trail Association (OHTA), was present, and so we sat in the sun and had lunch with Nimblewill, who’d driven down from Independence, Missouri.
Jackson Spencer, who completed the first 165 miles of the Ozark Highlands Trail in 4 days and change, shared some of his experiences on the trail and the mental aspects of hiking 18-20 hours a day. He and his girlfriend enjoyed visiting with members before and after his session.
Jim Woolly and Jackson discuss long distance hiking
Nimblewill sharing his vision for the future
Nimblewill began his session with a challenge to those present. He began to describe the beauty to be found in the Ozarks and Ouachitas while questioning the most recent addition to the list of eleven National Scenic Trails in the eastern United States.
He said the beauty of Arkansas and Missouri is on par with mountain regions anywhere in the United States and that a combined Ozark Highlands Trail in Arkansas and Ozark Trail in Missouri, or Trans-Ozark Trail (TOT) would meet the requirements for a National Scenic Trail. He even mentioned that the Ouachita Trail could eventually be tied into the long trail leading to Saint Louis Missouri. He mentioned that many of the great trails in the country involve some road walking to follow so connecting the Ouachita Trail would be a possibility.
Nimblewill’s session was laced with poetry. He used poetry to express ideas that might have been more difficult in narrative. In the following poem he describes the wanderlust many distance hikers feel.
Watch Nimblewill deliver his poem, “Home of the Free.”
I won one of his books,Ten Million Steps! It’s his journal of his trek from the Florida Keys to Quebec, Canada, laced with poetic interludes and a real pleasure to read. My book, Five Star Trails: The Ozarks, was presented as a door prize at the end of Nimblewill’s session. It made me feel good to know that we were both published by Menasha Ridge Press.
Nimblewill is in his late 70s and still planning long walks. His next goal is to walk Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angles. One of the big challenges is getting waivers to walk some sections of Interstate Highway that cover the old route. Some states have laws forbidding foot traffic. Over morning coffee Sunday I suggested he get some type of slow vehicle permit. He walks around 3.5 miles per hour and is powered by two legs.
Nimblewill described the contents of his ultra-light pack. He said the task has been to bring your wants and needs together so that only what is necessary can be found in his pack.
Nimblewill’s loaded pack weighs in at about 8-10 pounds.
Sunday morning, I was up early and had the pleasure of some time with Nimblewill. He shared some of the logistical challenges of his Route 66 trek planning. I have no doubt that he will walk the length of Route 66. I hope the states he passes through facilitate his travels because they’ll have one kind soul walking their roads while he’s passing through.
Paul with EtowahOutfitters visits with Nimblewill while waiting for coffee to brew.
Hiker saying we must hit the trail
Sunday, after breakfast, I thought of heading back home, but my little buddy had been so patient the day before, and now she was urging me to take the 3-mile trail around Shady Lake, one I’d not hiked in more than 20 years.
As always, following Hiker-dog’s lead was wise. We both felt much better from the after-breakfast exercise, and we saw some of the beauty of the Ouachitas. The old trail around Shady Lake had some spots that were hard to follow. I started down what I thought was trail and noticed Hiker-dog up above me. Once again, she was right, so I backtracked and followed her lead.
Early morning on Shady Lake enticing us to walk the trail
Hints at Fall color and deep green moss along the stream flowing into Shady Lake
Another scene along the creek entering Shady Lake
A big thank you to Backpacking Arkansas for putting this event together. Thanks also to Duane, Paul, Gerry, and others who worked to set things up and sponsor the weekend. All presenters were excellent, and the Saturday night potluck alone was worth the drive. I’ll definitely put this event on my calendar for next year!