We left mid afternoon on February 10th and immediately hit Dallas traffic. This slowed down our excursion but allowed the group more time to bond in the van. We stopped for dinner at an Applebees around 7:00 pm and discussed how vegetables did not exist during dinner. We continued driving and arrived at Daisy State Park, AR around 11:00pm. Everyone pitched the tents quickly so as to get inside the safety and warmth of our sleeping bags.
Saturday morning was relatively warm. The group packed up and headed on a quick drive to Ouachita National Forest. After parking the van at the road head, we geared up and headed out. Within in five minutes we met our first of three large river crossings. Feet were soaked to the bone but everyone was happy for making it across without falling in. Hiking was easy without too much hassle involved but the next river crossing was the crux of the route. This crossing required a five-foot drop into knee deep icy cold water and then a 20-yard hike across to a pebbly island. Everyone crossed safely and efficiently. The last crossing was the easiest and took no time at all even though it was the longest of the three crossings. The final push was an hour-long hike up the side of the ridge into a saddleback were we camped for the night.
Saturday night was the most fun and the most miserable part of the trip. We ate quesadillas with chicken and summer sausage while vainly trying to keep warm as the temperatures dropped into the teens and settled around 12 degrees for most of the night. Boiled water was put into nalgenes as feet warmers and lots of cuddling and spooning helped keep people warm while songs and jokes kept spirits high.
Sunday morning was a fun affair with time spent looking out of the scenic vista near our campsite. An easy hike down to the road helped start the day off on the right foot. While we stopped for lunch we met trail angels who shared their Carne Seca beef jerky with us. These men were our saviors! A fast paced hike along the road allowed us to leave the national forest by 2:00pm and we arrived safely back on campus around 6:30 pm. This was a trip with great participants who made the tough going easier with their great camaraderie.
Waiting for next winter,
Rand Singleton, SMU OA Trip Leader.