By Randy Putt

By the time March rolls around I'm always looking for opportunities to get into the backcountry for a few days so when Jayston, at Overland Guild, posted that he was organizing a trip to the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas, I was all in! As the trip dates got closer everyone was watching the weather and the rain that was forecast for both Friday and Saturday. I was thankful that the rain held off just long enough for me to get my jeep loaded Friday morning. The rain started about 10am and continued until about noon on Saturday making for a wet trip, but still better than staying home!

I met Rick, Tod, and Nathan at Grandma's Cafe in West Fork, AR at noon on Friday to have some lunch before we headed to the backcountry. The lunch buffet featured fried pork chops, chicken and dumplings, and chicken fried steak! What more could you ask for? And the fried okra was some of the best I've ever had. Be sure and check it out if you are ever in Winslow, Arkansas. You will be glad you did.

After lunch we headed to the Devil's Den area to find some trails. As the rain continued the trail was getting muddy in several places. We finished the first trail and decided to do one more before we headed to our accommodations for the night. The only problem is by the time we got to the end of the trail it had rained enough to make the Lee Creek crossing unsafe so we turned around and retraced our route back to the low water bridge. As we approached this crossing we could see that the water was flowing to fast to attempt a crossing here as well! Our only other way out was to get to pavement and take the long way around.

We reached our accommodations for the night around 6:30, an old hunting cabin complete with outhouse! Jayston was at the cabin when we arrived. With the temperature around 50 degrees we loaded up the old wood stove and set up our bedding before starting dinner. Dinner was another great feast consisting of grilled pork chops, baked potatoes, fresh corn and green beans. After dinner we all gathered around the wood stove. Let the fellowship begin!

By 11:30 we were all ready to hit the hay. I was glad we weren't in tents this night as the rain continued and the wind blew about 40 mph all night long.

We were up, packed, and ready to head to the rendezvous back in Winslow to meet up with four more rigs to continue our trip. When we arrived at the gas station, where everyone planned to fill up before heading out, we discovered that the power was out for about a 20 mile radius, so we headed north for another 14 miles to the nearest gas station with power. Andy and Ryan, both from Louisiana, had 100 series Land Cruisers, Josh had a nicely equipped Nissan Frontier, and Les and Lisa joined us in their FJ Cruiser.

By the way, it was still raining and because of this we had to forgo most of the trails we had planed to do on Saturday due to the many water crossings that we would encounter. Jayston was leading the way and he decided to head over to White Rock mountain overlook and then tried to stay on high ground as much as possible. With all the rain we passed several waterfalls that only run when it rains. As the day wore on the rain finely stopped and we arrived at camp about 6:00 where we all cooked our own meals before settling around the campfire to discuss the days journey. We topped the night off by cooking an apple crisp in the dutch oven and by 11:00 everyone was ready to call it a day.

I had to head home first thing Sunday morning so didn't get to wheel any on Sunday but even with the wet weather, the swollen streams, and the muddy trails, it was all well worth it to wheel with a great group of guys. and gals! I'm already looking forward to the next trip!

Trailfrog out
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