|A neat map of part of the run.|
Big Cedar to Queen Wilhelmina - Another great adventure on the Ouachita Trail. This time I had my friends Tim Hall and his son Nico along for the run as well. This meant we could drop a vehicle off and only have to run one way rather than my usual out and back when I am alone. That makes it so much more fun because obviously you can cover twice the distance and see twice as much interesting things.
I have done this entire section of the trail twice before. Once I ran from Winding Stair Campground to Queen Wilhelmina. This was a long 28 mile run and I remember it being very tough. My Mom picked me up at the lodge and that worked out great. The other time I ran this section was when pacing my friends Steve Kirk and Greg Eason on their mega transect of the entire 228 mile Ouachita Trail. I paced them for the first 50 and was beat and those two guys kept on running the entire length of the trail making it to the Eastern terminal in somwhere near 70 hours.
That act of endurance remains for me perhaps the single greatest and most impressive act in the sport of ultra running. Greg and Steve pushed through with only about 30 minutes of sleep.
What amazed me was how little I remembered from those two runs once I got past the 10 mile mark from last Sunday's run where I had to turn around to get back to my vehicle. It all seemed new to me once again. I'm kind of upset with myself for having done so many 20 plus mile runs in the forest this year and nearly all of them covered the same usual terrain. Four of them was the Old Military Road / Boardstand Trail loop. During the winter I would go back to this trail because it was close to home and thinking that the trail is pretty much the same there as it is everywhere. Today proved that it was definitely not and that I need to explore more of the trail and not limit myself to what is close to home.
The run went very well over all. Tim got the award for not falling. I lost early on when I lost my footing on one of the many smaller water crossings in the first three miles. The water was really flowing and I stepped on a rock that was as slick as ice and down I went and the i-phone went in the water. Luckily I retrieved it quick enough that no damage was done.
We carried on and made it up and over the first good climb without any trouble. Around the 11 mile mark there are multiple crossings of the Kiamichi river which runs through this section of the Ouachita Trail. Normally this river is tame and you can skip on the stones across the river as the trail goes back and forth. But today the river was a raging torrent after nearly five inches of rain in the past several days. This just made it all the more fun! One crossing in particular took special care because the water was flowing so swift and the water was nearly waist high. Never really a danger but very fun.
|Nico and Tim during our lunch break along the Kiamichi River. Unfortunately, I did not get more pictures because my camera was foggy from the water.|
After a brief lunch, we moved on and for about four miles, it is very runnable, smooth and nice trail. That is until a sharp left has you climbing for 3.3 miles up Rich Mtn. Again the three of us made it up the mtn with little trouble but once at the top, the cold rain started really coming down and the wind picked up considerably. The last three miles was definitely very cold as I was ill prepared for that type of weather.
But at last we made it to the car after 21 plus miles and a lot of fun. This section offers everything. Steep climbs, lots of water crossing (at least in spring) and great mountain views.
Afterward we had a great hamburger at the End of the Trail Grill. Lots of fun!