• 11.23.2008 6 Comments

    This weekend I went on another backpacking trip. This time was more fun in that David (my usual hiking buddy), his wife Elizabeth, and their Uncle Mike went. The trail we covered is the Buckeye Trail and the East half of the Caney Creek Trail. The Buckeye trail is supposed to have some of the most spectacular views in Arkansas. David and I did this hike a while back, but the weather was foggy and rainy, which prevented us from seeing very far off the trail. This time, the weather was overcast and cold, which hampered some of the views, but we were at least able to see some overlooks. But MAN was it cold!

    On Friday night the temperature was around the mid-twenties. I pitched my tarp low to the ground and with one side flat to try to minimize any wind. Thankfully, there was very little wind. We stayed at the Shady Lake campground the first night. My feet got extremely cold during the night, but, otherwise, I was fairly warm.

    In my continual quest for going lighter when backpacking, I was trying out some new ideas for me to keep warm. My clothing consisted of: wool-blend socks, trail running shoes, mesh-lined nylon wind pants and quick-drying synthetic underwear. On top, I wore a quick-drying synthetic long-sleeve shirt and a wool sweater. I brought a wind/rain jacket made out of tyvek (a hazardous materials suit with the legs cut off). It worked surprisingly well in the wind. I also had a pair of cheap cotton gloves and a cheap wal-mart synthetic cap.

    On Saturday we got moving on the trail. We planned to cover 4.3 miles the first day (hike the Buckeye until it intersected with Caney Creek trail). The temperature was supposed to be in the 40’s, but it never got above around 32-33, so we decided to hike out the remainder of the trail (3.9 miles) on Saturday so we could all be in a warm bed that night.

    Trailhead

    Trailhead

    At the trailhead. It was sooo cold when we started especially because the wind had started blowing. We did not spend much time here before getting a move on so that we could warm up. I know I look like a fool. But this picture does show my new favorite component of my backpacking equipment: my trekking poles.

    Tyvek Wind/Rain Jacket

    Tyvek Wind/Rain Jacket

    Here’s a picture David took of me in my rain/wind jacket. It cost me all of 4 bucks and worked really well in the wind. It’s not very stylish, but I was pleased with the performance.

    Rock

    Rock


    There are some HUGE rocks on this trail.

    David's Head

    David's Head


    Here’s a picture I didn’t know David took. He knew my battery was dying and took this anyway. So I guess I should put it here.

    Frozen Plant

    Frozen Plant


    This plant, which is some sort of weed, is very interesting. We saw several of these. For whatever reason, the water freezing made ice come up the root of the plant and split it up the stem. Note that this picture was taken around 11:30 – noon, and the ice is still quite firm and not melting at all. So the temperature was still very cold.

    Katy Falls

    Katy Falls


    Katy Falls is a narrow waterfall that David and I visited the last time we came. It’s fun to look at, but it would have been better if the day was warm! The fall is at the end of the Buckeye trail, but I stuck it before the next shots because I wanted to end with some nice overlooks of the Buckeye.

    Elizabeth, Mike, and Me at an Overlook

    Elizabeth, Mike, and Me at an Overlook


    Now for some pictures of the overlooks we did actually see. Here’s Elizabeth, Mike, and me posing for a picture.

    Overlook

    Overlook

    David and Elizabeth

    David and Elizabeth

    This final picture is by far my favorite shot. This was taken by David. I think this shot is what makes me want to give this trail one more chance. I just know that if we ever go on a clear sunny day, the views will be breathtaking.

    Nice Shot

    Nice Shot

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  • 11.03.2008 6 Comments

    Spent the weekend doing some backpacking in Kisatchie National Forest outside of Natchitoches, LA. Had a really good time, even though my usual backpacking partner couldn’t go. So it was me and my dog Luke. I ended up covering about 8.5 miles the first day due to having to abort on my original idea for a camping spot. But it was ok. I got these new hiking poles… and my speed increased dramatically. I always thought the idea of using them was kinda crazy, but they really work well.

    Here are some pictures:

    Backbone Trail - Kisatchie National Forest

    Backbone Trail - Kisatchie National Forest

    This is a picture I took early on the first day. Luke was really excited and ready to go. The trail itself was unusual in that the trail in areas was very sandy and lots of rock outcrops existed. I don’t know of many places in Louisiana that would look like that. There were also tons of Longleaf Pine trees, which were a nice treat. They have extremely long needles and huge pine cones.

    Crooked Tree

    Crooked Tree

    I thought it this tree looked exceptionally unusual. I think it speaks to the determination of life; even if one is deformed or may have limitations, striving for that life-giving sunlight continues on.

    New Best Friend

    New Best Friend

    Luke walked right past (perhaps right on top of) this Water Moccasin. This snake was truly pissed. I wish I had recorded video to show just how loud it was hissing. It was sucking in air and hissing it out so forcefully, you could see it’s head change shape with it. A truly amazing encounter. It was frightening as well, because Luke had passed it and I had no easy way around. Luke was going to walk right back to me (over the snake) and probably get bitten. So I had to holler at him to go away and stop many times as I hacked my way through some thorns to get around the snake (it was so angry I did NOT want to attempt to move it off trail with a stick).

    Room With A View

    After covering a bunch of miles, it was nice to reach camp. This was the view from camp that evening. I was looking out to the East, so I knew I would have a spectacular view in the morning.

    Can You Spot the Lizard?

    Can You Spot the Lizard?

    This little guy was really curious. As I was resting at camp, he came down the tree and watched me for several minutes. He even came off the tree to come closer to me, but I moved and he quickly went back up again. But he continued to watch me until I went to do other things.

    Good Morning Sunshine

    Good Morning Sunshine

    Here’s what my morning looked like. Absolutely gorgeous. You don’t get to see many sunrises like this in a lifetime. After taking a few shots and absorbing the morning for a bit, it was time to move on to find water and get back home.


    This is the water source. It was a pretty clear-running stream, despite the look of it. Luke had a great time splashing around, running up and down the sand “beach,” and throwing splashes of water and sand all over me.


    Pretty soon I was off the trail, and it was time to head home. I did meet a road traveler about a minute after leaving the trailhead parking lot. He was moving pretty fast, like he had somewhere to be. And, so did I, so I left him and went on home.

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  • 10.06.2008 No Comments

    Ran across this article this morning.  It’s amazing.  In Africa, there is a region that is splitting apart, which will one day create a new ocean.  This is something never before observed in nature, so it’s really interesting.  The visual pictures associated with this article are absolutely fascinating and beautiful, and the article itself is very informative.

    So, check it out.  Be sure to view it as a slideshow as well to see stunning pictures.

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  • 09.04.2008 No Comments

    Perhaps I am nuts.  I have been frequenting a site I used to visit all the time, the SomethingAwful forums.

    Well, there is a sub-forum called “SA-Mart” which allows members to sell and buy various things.  I have recently been spending a little dough on odds and ends.  There is a member who raises tarantulas, scorpions, and millepedes.  He sells them on the site.  He just listed two more varieties, including “Grammostola aureostriata,” which is a supposedly docile species that can grow up to 8 inches.

    Of course, I had to have one.  Now I’ve just gotta clean out my old gecko cage and get it ready for the octopede.  The picture is of this species… doesn’t it look… friendly?

    spidey

    spidey

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