Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas in the Ouachitas

Friday (Christmas day) I had all the Christmas festivities behind me, so a couple of friends and I headed to the Ouachitas for a bit of trail running. Burning off a few calories is a good thing. Burning them off here gave us a chance to preview the area for the upcoming 
Ouachita Switchbacks 50K/25 that happens January 16. 
Michelle, Clint, and I parked at the Pashubee trailhead, which is also a campground with all the amenities--except electric hookups, Oh, and no water. And no outhouses--but there are lots of trees. ;-)

Michelle points out our destination. All three of us are doing the 25K in the race, so I wanted to do the other side of the course to see what it looked like. Kiamichi River--here we come. Wet water crossings are the best.

Click on the map to blow it up a little bigger. The race start is right in the middle. Everyone goes to the left, and the out-and-back is 17-18 miles--depending on whose GPS device you are trusting. For sure, it's a bit long to be a 25K--BONUS MILES!!!

So after a group selfie--we were off.

Blue blazes mark the trail. I'd love this job--doing trail maintenance, painting blue swatches, taking pictures--does it pay decent?

It's fair to say this trail is technical in places. Within the first .4 miles, we three dry creek bed crossings, and one with a little water. 

No problem crossing at this one, although there are several crossings (the Kiamichi River I bet for sure) that it's be best to just plow in and deal with wet feet. Better than slipping and falling, although that would make for lively conversation.

Lots of rocks covered with leaves. What looks like an easy leaf covered trail is really a trap. Lurking beneath the leaves are well placed rocks placed since the beginning of time waiting to stub your toe, and better yet, send you directly to the ground via a face plant.  It was risky running a decent pace. I call it trails by braille. We did our best to kick most of the leaves off the trail.

I saw this little pond on the way out, but did not get a picture. I was glad Michelle got one.

We got into a long climb pretty quick. We climbed 600 feet in less than a mile. Not much running--but we powered on up. Doing this section in the later part of a 50K will be tough. The trail flattened out for about a quarter mile, and went right through a briar patch. I bet sections like this require some trim work a couple times a year.

And then there are rocks to big to hide under leaves. Rock gardens come in all different sizes. There are healthy.

There are also sections like this on the Ouachita Trail/ I did a portion on the OT in Arkansas a few years back that was a solid mile of this except it was also nearly straight up.

Clint and I took a goat-hike onto this rock for a better view of the valley below.

I took the opportunity to strike a Captain Morgan pose.

We abbreviated our out-and back, climbing 1140 feet on the initial climb and 1445 for the trip. We logged right at 7 miles.

On December 25th, I added my final tick to my tick-o-meter count--raising my total to 117 for the year.

I am excited to go back next month to go from Pashubee to Winding Stair and back--taking on all the rocks, leaves, climbs, and water crossings. And I now--more than ever--want to do an end-to-end fast-pack hike. 


  1. What a Christmas adventure. Can't believe you found such a late season tick. I bet there are some geocaches on the trail also.

  2. Great course preview. Can't wait to see you all! tom