Buffalo River trail building – Fall 2014 kickoff

The trail building camp moves to the South Maumee campground this fall to fill some gaps west of that area.  Work begins October 13 and is expected to continue through November 14.

We had a very productive spring session – building about 3.6 miles of trail, which is about 50% more than had previously been done each year.  I think the latest estimate was that about 4.5 miles of tread still need to be cut so perhaps the spring ’15 session will close the final gaps to complete the 41-mile trail from the Wollum Ford to Dillard’s Ferry.

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A Wet Week in the Weminuche Wilderness, or A Soggy San Juans Story

The Weminuche Wilderness covers about 500,000 acres of southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and is the largest in the state.  I and 4 other guys (RC, JH, TC, & WN) spent about 6 days exploring much of the Ute Creek watershed from the Rio Grande Reservoir all the way up to the continental divide (elevations of about 9500′ to 12000′).  Donna Ikenberry has a great book for this area and the neighboring South San Juan Wilderness.  Trails Illustrated map #140 is also very helpful.

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Mount Nebo Trails

I got out to do some hiking at Mount Nebo the last 3 mornings.  Rising about 1300′ above its surroundings, it’s a rather prominent feature with some great vistas.  The last time I was up there was also my first – a summer 2013 trip to scout the Russellville area before moving to Arkansas.  We’ve had some foggy mornings recently so I couldn’t get pictures of the surroundings this time – see the older post for that.  The Visitor Center has a brochure with a map of all the trails, and is one of several trail heads.

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Almost

I’ve been a resident of Russellville Ark for about a week now and it’s beginning to feel like home.  Most of my stuff is still in Fort Smith but should be moved in the coming week.  It will be nice to finally get settled and get back out on the trail.

I spent a weekend at Devil’s Den State Park with some friends from Kansas City a couple weeks ago.  We hiked a bit of the Butterfield Trail – my first time on a trail since Cossatot River 4 weeks earlier.  I’ve got a trip in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains coming up and I really need to get out for some hill climbing day hikes before then to get conditioned.

After the San Juan’s trip it will be time to start making plans for the next backpacking season here.  I’ve already committed some weekends to building trail along the Buffalo River.  Ken Smith figures we built about 3.66 miles this past spring – well above previous seasons’ average of 2.5 miles – with about 4.25 miles left to do.  There will be some areas that need to be reworked, or some drainage issues to fix, etc but it sounds like by next spring we could  have usable tread all the way from Tyler Bend to the South Maumee trail head – linking the finished 15-mile west segment and 11-mile east segments and marking a completion of the 40+ mile Buffalo River extension of the Ozark Highlands Trail.

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Moving again!

Things have been pretty quiet around here lately but I haven’t fallen off a cliff or gotten lost in the woods.  Instead, I am buying a house in Russellville Ark.  I expect to close in 2 weeks and move about a week later.  It will be so nice to finally get settled after last summer’s big move from Kansas City to Fort Smith.

Why Russellville?  Within a 90-minute drive are 6 or 7 wilderness areas, much of the Buffalo River, about 2/3 of the Ouachita Trail, all of the Ozark Highlands Trail, and some of the best parts of the Ozarks and Ouachitas.  What’s not to like about that?

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Broken Bow Lake – David Boren Hiking Trail

On the way home from Cossatot River State Park I stopped at Broken Bow Lake in southeast Oklahoma to look around and do a short hike.  I’ve spent a little time around Winding Stair Mountain but this was my first time south of OK63 and deep into Kiamichi country so that was a bonus.  It’s a far cry from the flat red dirt I once imagined covered all of Oklahoma.

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Cossatot River Corridor Trail

I got the “one more mild weekend” I was hoping for and spent a couple days of it at Cossatot River State Park & Natural Area sightseeing and hiking the 12.5-mile River Corridor Trail.  Cossatot is apparently an anglicization of the french words for “skull crusher” and it seems a fitting name for this wild river.

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Tall Peak Trail

The Tall Peak Trail is a 6.4 mile out-and-back in the Caney Creek Wilderness that begins at the Shady Lake Recreation Area in the southern part of Arkansas’ Ouachitas.  The trail begins by following Saline Creek upstream about a mile and crossing it five times before climbing 1200′ over the remaining 2+ miles to the top of Tall Peak.

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Buckeye-Caney Creek Loop

My first visit to the Caney Creek Wilderness in the southern part of Arkansas’ Ouachitas.  The 9.4 mile Buckeye – Caney Creek Loop  consists of the Buckeye trail, the eastern part of the Caney Creek trail, and a short road walk on FR 38.  This area is about 10 miles west of the Eagle Rock Loop.

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Billy Creek Loop

The Billy Creek Loop is a 9.9 mile loop on the south side of Winding Stair Mountain in the Oklahoma Ouachitas.  There is access from the Billy Creek campground to the south and the Horse Thief Spring picnic area to the north.  There is an east-west connector trail that divides it into a 6.7 mile upper loop and a 6 mile lower loop.  The lower loop is open to ATVs, the east & west sides of the upper loop are hiker & horses only.  The north side of the loop is miles 19.9-22.4 of the Ouachita Trail.

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