A change of clothes, a couple of choices of trail shoes, Nathan Pack overstuffed, water bottles filled, and the remaining coffee poured into that old stainless steel thermos from many Christmases past, and I was out the door. Oasis blared "What's your story morning glory" and I tore south on HW 75, easily 20 miles over the speed limit carried by my music. No need for the QT, although a pee stop would have been nice. I was anxious to hit the trailz in the Ouachitas asap. Any kind of loop would take more daylight hours than I had--but that's what headlamps are for, right? I switched to some Neil Young to keep my speed down--no need to get ticketed on the way.
I vaguely remembered the trailz where I had ran way too long ago--rocky switchbacks down to a dry creek that would most likely be a running stream. I remembered it bottomed out, and then musty have climbed to the crest of the Talamena Drive before heading down the other side. The plan was to string the Old Military Road Trail with the Boardstand, and then instead of heading back west on the Ouachita, I would head east to Winding Stair. At that point, I would either head north on the Horsethief Trail to Cedar Lake, or south on the Billy Creek Trail.--most likely the Cedar Lake route. Sleeping on a picnic table would have to suffice, since I was running light and not carrying a tent of sleeping bag. Depending on how I felt/slept, I would then head further east and try to make the Arkansas state line by the next evening. Somewhere along the way, I would need to buy more food especially if I did the feeding frenzy thing and ate all my supplies too early. I could refill with water at Cedar Lake, and/or streams if they looked clean--but I should have brought some aqua tabs--they were in my glove box I thought. (I drank from streams a few years back when I ran out of water on an unexpected hot day, and did not get sick.)
From McAlister towards Wilburton, I daydreamed, and almost dozed--running over a possum or armadillo, and swerved almost sideways before recovering. WHEW!!!! What a wake up!! I pulled over by a bridge and got out to stretch my legs, and pour a cup of coffee. There was no hurry, but I was certainly doing just that. Breathing in the unseasonably cool spring air and sniffing what was the beginning of pine trees brought the warmth of anticipation to my soul. I took a picture of this old iron bridge, and looked for the right angle to catch the bright blue sky between the rusty braces of the bridge. Burning 5 minutes, but feeling fully awake and alive, I continued on. Talamena State Park was less than 30 minutes away. Visiting these trailz was like seeing old friends. I remembered them, but some of the details were blurry. Running them again seemed like catching up with your buddies you had not seen for years. I was giddy--almost nervous although that seems weird--but ready to plow right in. Running solo--for 2 days, maybe 3, maybe 4. I suppose the unknown was what the jitters were about. There would be no cell phone service, and even if there were, my phone would die in a day or two. The possibility of danger made it more exciting.