We were well on our way to Millwood Lake at 3:30 on Friday with some new faces as well as some old ones accompanying us on this new adventure through the Ouachita National Forest. The 3-hour van ride was a chatty one, with everyone getting to know each other, riding the sunset to grab a bite to eat in Texarkana. It wasn’t too long before we reached our destination at Millwood Lake, where we quickly taught everyone how to set up camp. The rest of the evening was spent creating a particularly difficult bonfire as well as looking at Jupiter and it’s moons through Grant’s telescope, before heading off to bed to rest up for our early morning wake-up!
Waking up on that particularly chilly morning was not an easy thing to do, but by 9:30am we had warm food in our bellies and were heading off to explore the White Cliffs of Millwood Lake! After a couple of hours of picture taking with a machine-gun-camera, we were ready to head on out to the Ouachita National Forest. The day was overcast and cold by the time we arrived at the trail-head and it had begun to slightly drizzle, but after a few hours hiking through the mountains, we were quickly shedding layers to accommodate the increase in body temperature. We finally arrived at the campsite after crossing Caney Creek, where we set up camp and learned how to cook in the back country! We all went to sleep pretty early because we were all exhausted from the day hike… but little did we know we were going to wake up in a few hours because of an awe-inspiring lightning storm!
The following morning was beautiful. The clouds parted and warmth settled in the valley where we were camped at. After a nice breakfast we were off, following the windy creek back to the van. We stopped by a lovely waterfall on our way back, where we enjoyed a nice break from hiking through the forest. It’s incredible how much the forest changes to vibrant colors when the sun shines proudly upon the trees. After a few hours, we saw the sight we had all been waiting for… The SMU van! After packing up the van we were on our way back to civilization. A quick stop at Sonic’s for a bite to eat and a 3 hour drive later, we were back at SMU. Hugs were exchanged, final laughs and nostalgic moments shared, and the participants wandered off, back to society, back to their routine… but with a little bit of nature lingering in their imagination.
Manuel Familiar- SMU OA Trip Leader.