David Johnson's Travel Blog
Bicycle Trip 1999
Okefenokee 2002
Anza-Borrego 2003
Texas 2003
Road Trip West 2003
Sequoia National Park 2004
Hiking Florida 2005
Nomadic 2005
Bicycle Trip 2009
Bicycle Trip 2010
Nomadic 2010
Little Bicycle Trip 2011
Wisconsin Bicycle Trip 2011
Bicycle Trip 2011
Nomadic 2011
Kayak Trip 2012
Nomadic 2012
Liverworks Productions
Nomadic 2013
Liverworks Productions
Texas Pig Hunting
Bicycle Trip 2014
04/18  Release the Cows!
04/19  Need A List
04/20  Million Dollar Water
04/23  Peoria IL
04/24  Navigating the Grid
04/25  I'm in a flat land
04/26  Ghetto in the Fields
04/27  The Katy Trail
04/30  Hermann MO
05/01  Hermann to Jefferson City
05/02  The Mushroom Hunters
05/03  Enter the Ozarks
05/04  Ha Ha Tonka
05/09  Bennett Springs State Park
05/10  Barbed Wire and Mansions
05/11  Hello Arkansas
05/16  Up the Mountain
05/17  Muddy Roads
05/21  The Ouachita Trail...
05/22  whip-a-ree
05/23  Mena
05/24  Oklahoma
05/25  Farm to Market to Paris
05/29  Caddo National Grasslands
05/30  Salt Palace and Alligators
05/31  Highways
06/01  Waco
06/06  Waco Mammoth Site
06/07  10 Liters
06/08  Mayonnaise or Mustard
06/10  Llano
06/11  Enchanted Rock and Old Tunnel
06/12  High Fences
06/13  Kickapoo Cavern
06/14  Del Rio
06/19  Into the Desert
06/20  Cold and Wet
06/21  Bicycler Bottleneck
06/22  Chisos Mountains
06/23  Chisos Mountain Lodge
06/24  Terlingua
06/25  Alpine
06/27  Friday Night Light
06/28  Dust Devils
07/02  Crops in the Desert
07/03  Armpit of America
07/04  City of Rocks
07/10  Gila National Forest
07/11  Peanut Butter
07/12  Last of the Washboards
07/13  Quemado
07/17  El Malpais
07/18  Last Desert Stretch
07/19  Farmington
07/24  Colorful Colorado
07/25  Between a Rock and a High Place
07/26  Cinnamon Pass
07/27  3250 Miles
Bicycle Trip 2015
Biking West 2015
Chickens and Pheasants 2016
Biking About 2016
New Zealand 2016
Kayak Trip 2017

The Ouachita Trail...

2014-05-21

tl;dr: I was less than impressed by the Ouachita Trail

...sucks.

I left Dardanelle with a pretty hefty bicycle. Besides my normal gear, I'm also carrying three days worth of food and four liters of water (five after filling up in Ola). And I thought hills were tough before. Oh well. This leg is what I've been preparing for.

I spent most of the day on Highway 7, a fairly bicycle-unfriendly road that grew friendlier as I distanced myself from civilization, but only because there were fewer vehicles.

Sudden flat! I don't know what happened, but my rear valve stem ripped. I hate it when that happens. I returned to a stub road I had just passed and swapped the tube out with my spare. Changing my rear tire is a chore. While I was working, two ladies pulled up in an SUV. I thought maybe somebody was concerned about me, but, no, they were just really lost. One of the ladies was on the verge of panic. To be fair, they were in the middle of nowhere with no map and only written directions. I had enough map cached on my signal-less phone to direct them to where they wanted to go.

I finished my tire and continued on. Now that I'm bicycling through actual mountains here in Arkansas, I can more aptly appreciate the utter incompetence of the civil engineers who laid out the roads in Missouri. I mean, I'm in mountains and the roads are actually quite easy. What's up with that?

Speaking of incompetence: Who thought it was a good idea to advertise the Ouachita Trail as open to mountain bikes? My elation of arriving at this trail that I had been looking forward to for weeks was quickly tempered by the first hundred yard of pushing my bike up steep rocks and then stairs. I consoled myself that this was just a result of poor trailhead placement. Then I came to a tree that had fallen over the trail. And then another. And another. And another. Do you like busted valve stems? Because pushing bikes through thick brush and downed trees is how you bust valve stems. Then more steep, washed out sections of trail. More downed trees. I bet I peddled for all of fifty yards over the course of a mile-and-a-half.

I guess I should have known. I never could find a decent cycling review of the Ouachita Trail. Not even Google Maps had the temerity to show this trail as a bicycle route. And Google has had some pretty liberal interpretations of bicycle routes in the past.

I pushed my bike over one last downed tree into Moonshine Shelter and stopped. I had already decided that I was done with this trail, and I'd be intersecting a road before I reached the next shelter. Also, I was exhausted from the heat, humidity and hills.

While unpacking my bike suddenly a fox appeared. I was about the bushiest, healthiest fox I have ever seen. It froze. I froze. I tried locating my camera. It bolted. My camera was right behind me, within arm's reach. Oh well.

good morning Arkansas




bike lane on Highway 7


it thinks it is hiding


it realized it wasn't hiding






fixing a flat


Highway 7


almost there!


trailhead


downed trees


a section I can actually peddle on


a section I cannot peddle on


Moonshine Shelter


dinner

contact me at le@liverworks.com
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