Backpacking Trip Report

It seems like a month ago I put up the post saying I’d be gone a few days for the trip. That’s because when I got back the computer was in the shop, and stayed there until yesterday. Anyway, it was a nice trip. I did the Eagle Rock Loop starting and stopping in Albert Pike, a total of 26 miles. (Topo available here.)

I’ve wanted to do this loop for years. In fact, the last car camping trip I ever did, the one that made me swear it off forever, was in Albert Pike. Right after getting married, in 2001, we made the mistake of going there during peak season. It was awful. All those huge trucks, and generators, and dumba** rednecks up from Texas; we may as well have pitched our tent in a Wal-Mart parking lot. From the day we got back, we started collecting backpacking equipment. Shortly after we moved to Alabama and did all our backpacking there. This was my first chance to return to Albert Pike. I was not disappointed.

Weather was good. Beautiful and clear the first day, though windy. The temps were cold the first night; low enough my tent was covered in frost the next morning. The second day must have been in the sixties, with clear skies again. Clouds blew in that night, keeping the temps reasonable, but making the last day a bit gray.

The route is gorgeous. Two thirds follows the Little Missouri River, through spots like the Falls and Winding Stairs. The middle third goes up and over six different mountains. Three have amazing views at the top. The valleys between each feature peaceful little streams and are great spots to rest.

I needed the rest, too. Those mountains kicked my butt.  They aren’t very high, but whoever designed these trails did not believe in switchbacks. Some of those trails were extremely steep, shooting straight up the mountains. That’s exhausting on the way up, but it just hurts coming down. My body supplied enough force on its own, add an extra third of my weight in the my pack to help each footstep slam into the ground, and by the time I got to camp the third night, I was walking like a ninety year old with serious arthritis in all my joints. Walked that way for pretty much the rest of the week after getting home.

Do be aware, though, if you ever go, that you will get your feet wet. I lost track of how many stream crossings we had. The first one – about three miles or so up the Little Mo – was deep and fast enough that the dog wouldn’t cross it. I went across and called her. She ran along the bank and whined, and approached the water and started and backed out and whined some more. I cussed at her, something like “G.D. Dog, if you make me walk back across this river to get your sorry a** I am going to beat you senseless.” She whined some more. I finally caved, continued to cuss her, and walked back across the river to get her. I continued to yell at her for a few feet up the trail. Never did beat her. After that one, at least, she never had a problem. But I think she got impatient waiting for me to stop and change into sandles for all the crossings.

In short, nice trip and I can’t wait to do it again.

Little Missouri Falls

Little Missouri Falls

"Hey Dad, You Coming or What?"

"Hey Dad, You Coming or What?"

Everyting We Needed for Three Days

Everything We Needed for Three Days

Looking gratefully at the valley I'll be walking along after finally finishing the mountains.

Looking gratefully at the valley I'll be walking along after finally finishing the mountains.

Winding Stairs, our home the last night

Winding Stairs, our home the last night

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2 Comments on “Backpacking Trip Report”

  1. Maurice Loridans Says:

    Nice report Wheeler. My club (Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society) maintains the Athens Big Fork and we feel encouraged when we get feedback like this. Meaux

  2. wheeler Says:

    i ought to have mentioned that the trails were superbly maintained and in fantastic shape.

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