Eagle Rock Loop

March 2009

During Spring Break I spent six days solo backpacking Eagle Rock Loop in the Ozarks of Arkansas. All told it is about 26 miles, assuming you do not get lost---which I of course did. In fact, I cannot remember any backpacking  trip where I did not become lost, sometimes for days. 

The weather was perfect. The rivers were many. Campsites were abundant. There was little solitude to be had, alas, as the route is a popular one. I was alone while lost for a day, as the other hikers had the good sense not to take the road less traveled and wander far afield.  

I checked weather reports before heading out, and those had predicted sunny days. So I left any winter gear at home to save weight and headed out with some equipment suited to Spring. I lucked out and never saw a rain cloud or snow. Had the weather turned from balmy to freezing, I would have been a very unhappy camper. 

Many hikers have reported that the several hills one has to climb up and down make for a very difficult hike. Nonsense. Anyone in reasonable shape and with some experience can handle this route easily.  

My stove was the MSR WhisperLite International, my tent was an old ultra light Mountain Hardwear Approach that I had used for months in Peru. Here is a review I wrote of it some years ago while in Cuzco. 

I took this tent on several solo expeditions in Peru—12 days to the ruins of Choquequirao and 14 days to the Chachapoyan region of Gran Vilaya—and in Lauca National Park in Chile. It is a fine tent, lightweight and very strong. I camped below a 14,000 foot pass in the Andes, and when I awoke the fly was covered in ice. No problem, though. It sets up fast and tight as a drum. I always used a footprint. 

My sleeping bag was a Marmot Pinnacle, my pack was a Kelty 5600 Red Cloud, my firearm was a Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum.

All things considered it was a splendid time in the wilds of Arkansas. Yet…yet…I still hunger for wilder climes, for more solitude, for a more demanding adventure. It really is a question of time. As long as I have to work summers I will not have the time to get out into the true wilds of America. The nearest are in New Mexico and Colorado. Some day…

 

 

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