The forest started to become alive again at the break of dawn up on Eagle Rock. Both of us were slow to begin to crawling out of our tent. It was hot. Miserable in fact. I feel as if I had not slept at all. The entire night had been spent tossing and turning trying to keep cool. Waking with this drought of energy left me thinking of only one thing. Coffee! Without our GSI Java Press, we may never of gotten going.
Packs all packed up and ready to go we headed out. With another 10 miles planned for the day, we knew that getting an early start before the sun could melt us again would be our best bet of success. The trail for the day would be the Southern part of the Viles Branch Equestrian Trail. This is a multi-use trail that leads from Eagle Rock on the West side to the Albert Pike Recreation Area on the East. There would be many water crossings, so many in fact that I lost count.
Previously: Eagle Rock Loop Part 1
The first half of the day started out as a pleasant change from the heat and elevation of the prior day up on Eagle Rock. We found ourselves deep in the valley. Fully surrounded by mountains on both sides as we walked. We followed along side the Viles Branch Creek until it reached the Little Missouri River. While planning the route we heard that this water crossing had the possibility of being waist high. Lucky for us it ended up being less than our knees. The water was crystal clear and filled with fish and other creatures.
At this point the heat and humidity of the Arkansas Summer was beginning to really eat at us. We were constantly having to stop and pump more water with our MSR Filter This meant more and more time was being wasted. We still had 5 miles to go at this point in the day. That’s when we both started to contemplate a change of plans. This turned out to be an amazing opportunity.
We pushed through another 2.5 miles. Then decided that it would be best to drop our packs in the forest and put a GPS waypoint down. Time was our enemy. We knew that we could hike much faster without our main packs. The plan was to make it the the Albert Pike Recreation Area and hitch a ride up to our car so that we could have A/C for the night. We would finish the trail the remaining day. Little did we know, that our plans would be sent in a totally different direction.
“I go to nature not to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.”
Once we had made it to the rec area we ate a quick lunch. All full, we started to ask the locals for help to get us back to our car. The first truck I stopped was a burly Arkansas country boy by the name of Jake. He was more than willing to give us a ride. So we hopped in the 4×4 single cab chevy, scooped up our gear from the forest, and off we went.
The forest service roads are very bumpy. I was glad that Jake had a four wheel drive, or the day could of been much longer. Our new friend from the forest began to tell us a story about a hidden gem located deep in the woods. A flooded out old Gypsum Mine with water as blue as the Caribbean. One that not many people aside from locals knew about. We were intrigued to say the least.
“Mountains are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”
After about a 25 minute drive we arrived back where we had started. It was a relief to see the car was still tucked away in the woods where we had left it. It didn’t take long for us to both agree that we were done here and should head out to find this mysterious place in the forest. This turned out to be a godsend of a decision. That night a massive storm blew into the region leaving the final leg of the trail flooded out. We knew that the area was prone to flash flooding and were gracious that we did not get caught in the mess.
Going back to complete the Eagle Rock Loop is, with out a doubt, in our plans for the future. This time not planning the trip in the middle of the summer. It was much harder than expected because of the heat and humidity, but we WILL defeat this loop in 2018.
Eagle Rock Loop Trail. Click here to read part 1.
AllTrails Hiking App. Here is the link to the AllTrails map data that we used on this adventure.
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