By David Austin

There are many ways to go out and have fun with your off road vehicles. You can play in the mud or snow, drive around on your farm, hard core rock crawling, running the sand dunes, hard core competition racing and something that has caught my attention over the past few years called "Overlanding". Now one of our esteemed web staff here at C4X4, Randy Putt, has been participating in overlanding lately but this is something new to the Austin Clan.

Now Overlanding can take place in many parts of the county or even the world but it consists of loading up everything that you might need for the duration of your trip that can consist of a couple of days to weeks.

Now my wife and I have been wanting to experience an Overlanding trip for some time so when Randy Putt told me of a 3 day, 2 night event taking place in eastern Oklahoma and western Ark. and they had one open spot available for the run. Well we jumped at the chance.

During the week leading up to the event we started packing and stuffing everything we thought we might need into our 06 Jeep LJ Rubicon. Our Rubicon is just mildly built with a newly installed 4" Superlift lift kit and some 33x12x15 A/T tires. Also equipped with a Tuff Stuff front bumper and a 10,000 lbs Engo winch.

On Thursday early afternoon we crawled into our cramped LJ and headed out to McAlister, Ok. where we would spend the night and get our last shower for the next few days. On Friday morning we would drive on over to Clayton, Ok. to meet up with the rest of the crew and head out to the famed "K" trail that runs from Clayton, Ok. over to Mena, Ak.

As we settle into our room in McAllister we were contacted by Randy and found out that he would not be making the trip due to issues with his Jeep. So we would be meeting up with a group of mostly new folks that we had never met before but now we have several new friends.

About 11:30 we pulled out of Clayton and headed to the hills. We would take off on the Clayton Trail and intersect the K trail. On the Clayton trail we encountered a few tougher spots that we had not anticipated due to the road being washed out and still very muddy. Even though they were good for a little picture action the wash outs were not much of an issue. We traveled mostly on old logging road that had not been maintained. In many places the trail is grown up and we encountered brush caressing both sides of the LJ.

After a long afternoon of bouncing around on the rock and rough roads we arrived at our camping location for the first night. We were to pitch our tent in the lower parking area of an old forestry look out tower.
We hustled right along to get the tent pitched and dinner prepared before the light turned to darkness. By the time we got cleaned up from our evening meal others had a campfire going so we enjoyed a few trail tales and recaps of the day.

On Saturday morning we awoke from atop of the clouds which made for a beautiful morning view. The clouds quickly dissipated leaving another nice view of the towns below.

We got started at a decent time on Saturday and continued squeezing through the narrow trails for a few miles before we broke off of the K trail for some better sight seeing.

From there I am not sure as to what trails and logging roads we ran on. We hit blacktop for about 3-4 miles and then headed off on some other numbered trails. We encountered a lot of beautiful mountain sides as we wound through the trails. The farther we went the more secluded trails we encountered. Finally we reached the point where it appeared that no one had enjoyed these trails for several years. A couple of time we had to do a little exploring to get around some fallen trees that were larger than what we were prepared for. (no chain saw)

We encountered a little problems on a low water crossing that was washed out on the far side of the river. The first Jeep fell into the hole and had to do a little maneuvering to get out. After some planning on how we would get the rest of the rigs across, all we ended up needing was a good set of eyes that had already crossed the river.

As darkness was rapidly closing in on us we finally landed at an alternative camp site as we would not reach our planned site before dark. We all again hustle to get tents set up and dinner out of the way before it was totally dark. We then enjoyed an evening campfire and fellowship before being encouraged to hit the tents by showers moving in. It rained most of the night leading to breaking camp while a little soggy but the rains had stopped.
After a couple more hours of trails we hit black top and a convince store where we enjoyed their facilities and topped off the tanks. At this point we aired up our tires and would head off in all directions.
Of the 7 rigs that showed up we had 5 states represented. Tn, Tx, La, Ar, and Ok.

With 3 of the rigs running together for a couple of hours on black top before splitting up, we pulled into a state park at Heaven, Ok. and enjoyed a little more fellowship and one last picnic lunch. There we went on a nature walk and studied a little of the park history that involved some history of Vikings.

From there we all headed on home concluding a great weekend of spending time with friends and our 4x4's doing something new from our bucket list. Yes this will not be our last Overlanding trip.
Until Next Time

Okie-Out David Austin

Additional photos from the trip:

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