Trail Maintenance on Hickory Nut Mountain – Nov. 8, 2014

Saturday November 8th was a perfect fall day on Hickory Nut Mountain as six Traildogs met at the Trailhead for some trail maintenance. We had four certified sawyers, myself, Jay Marsh, Dan Watson, and Al Gathright, along with Chuck Dumas with his trusty weed trimmer, and Mike Curran with his historic one man four foot hand saw.

Traildogs Chuck and Jerry digging the hole for the post to mount the new USFS-provided trailhead sign.

Traildogs Chuck and Jerry digging the hole for the post to mount the new USFS-provided trailhead sign.
(Click this image to view more photos from Nov. 8, 2014)

Our first order of business was to install the new trailhead sign furnished by the US Forest Service. It took a bit of digging in the stone-infested ground, but we finally concreted in the 6 X 6 post and sign just to the left of the Trailhead map sign.

We also cleared all the downed trees and limb debris from the campground located adjacent to the Trailhead. There were two overnight campers in the campground, but the tents’ inhabitants were out taking advantage of the perfect fall weather to enjoy the Trail .

While we working, a group of mountain bikers from the Springdale area came through on their way to the Avery Trailhead some thirty miles east. We visited, and they shared that they had met a hunter in the valley between Hickory Nut Mountain and Broken Rock Mountain who had just harvested nice buck. He thanked the riders for flushing the buck, which came charging down the Trail about ten minutes ahead of the riders. It appears we can share the bounty of the Trail in harmony.

Traildogs Al and Jay tackle the first of several trees across the trail to the old Hickory Nut Mountain Fire Tower site.

Traildogs Al and Jay tackle the first of several trees across the trail to the old Hickory Nut Mountain Fire Tower site.
(Click to view more photos)

We then attacked the spur up to the old fire tower site. There were many down trees and much debris, along with a thick growth of weeds along this 800 foot spur. We were able to clear the Trial up to the site, but we lacked the proper equipment to completely clear the historic site itself.   We cleared around the foundation of the “watchers cabin” and around his old “stone food cooler” nearby, but we will need some new brush clearing equipment to complete the job. Another day!

As we returned from the tower site, we were engulfed in visitors to the Trailhead. A group of about twenty mountain bikers from the Tyler, Texas area, and also a separate group of site seeing folks, also from Texas who arrived in two vans, were all taking in the views of fall color from the peak.

As we were finishing work, two large groups were enjoying the trailhead, one a group of riders from around Tyler, Texas, and the other a group from Dallas who were staying at Mountain Harbor Resort.

As we were finishing work, two large groups were enjoying the trailhead, one a group of riders from around Tyler, Texas, and the other a group from Dallas who were staying at Mountain Harbor Resort.
(Click to view more photos)

Jerry

Scouts Build a New Bridge on the LOViT – Oct. 25, 2014

One perennial mud hole gone from the trail!

After celebrating with the Ouachita Mountain Hikers on Saturday, Oct. 25, I met members of the Boy Scout Troop 262 out of Little Rock at the Tompkins Bend Trailhead parking area. Six Scouts, their troop leader, and several parents joined in to assist Bryan Wornock complete his Eagle rank project of building a 12′ foot bridge about a 3/4 mile east of Shangri-La Road.

Traildog Jerry Shields with Bryan Wornock, Brett Gil, Shelby Johnson, Nicholas Muensier, Mathew Thomason, and Chris Beard. Not pictured: Kevin Roach, Seth Goad and Cody Ray.

Traildog Jerry Shields with Bryan Wornock, Brett Gil, Shelby Johnson, Nicholas Muensier, Mathew Thomason, and Chris Beard. Not pictured: Kevin Roach, Seth Goad and Cody Ray.

The team started to work around noon and finished at 5:00 pm, with the new bridge completed and ready for use. Bryan utilized the existing design of our other small bridges to construct the bridge over an area know to bikers and the “Slick Spot” where you can easily take a spill if not careful. Hikers refer to the spot as the “Mud Hole”!

The completed bridge, ready for traffic!

The completed bridge, ready for traffic!

We really appreciate the Scouts supporting the Trail! They exemplify the best of young people trying to give back to the community.

Jerry

Ouachita Mountain Hikers Rally and BBQ, Oct. 25, 2014

Saturday, October 25th, the Ouachita Mountain Hikers had a rally and BBQ at the Avery Recreation Area to celebrate the completion of their six-day hike of the entire Lake Ouachita Vista Trail system. Starting at the ADA Kiosk on Monday Oct 20th, various groups of OMH members hiked sections of the Trail. Eight of the members, including Traildog Chuck Dumas, received special recognition for hiking the entire forty miles of trail.  This was a team effort of the Ouachita Mountain Hikers organization, with some members hiking, some shuttling, and some organizing the Rally and BBQ.

USACE Ranger Mike Wade addressing the Ouachita Mountain Hikers at the Avery Recreation Area

USACE Ranger Mike Wade addressing the Ouachita Mountain Hikers at the Avery Recreation Area

The Ouachita Mountain Hikers invited the LOViT Traildogs to join in the hikes and to join them in their celebration rally and BBQ. Pam Harrison served as head chef and food organizer, and it was indeed a feast! Three of our Traildogs – myself, Robert Cavanaugh and Chuck Dumas – were present at the rally and BBQ. After the group of around fifty finished eating, Mike Wade, US Army Corps of Engineers Ranger, gave the group a presentation covering the recently completed emergency rescue plan he has developed for the Trail. Mike, as usual, did a great job of explaining this well-thought-out emergency plan.

Head Chef Pam Harrison dressed for Halloween

Head Chef Pam Harrison dressed for Halloween

After Mike’s presentation, special awards were presented by Cliff Harrison to the eight members who completed a hike of the entire Trail. Following these awards, Jim Gifford presented a special Certificate of Appreciation to the Traildogs for their efforts in creating this beautiful trail system.

It was a fun day, and we were humbled by the special thanks and recognition from the Ouachita Mountain Hikers.

To my knowledge this is the first organization to hike the entire trail in less than a week.

Many thanks to the Ouachita Mountain Hikers.

Jerry

Italian Writer Discovers the LOViT – October 22, 2014

Robert Cavanaugh and Zoie Clift

Robert Cavanaugh and Zoie Clift

Traildog Robert Cavanaugh had a great day Wednesday, Oct. 22. Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department asked Robert to lead her and two visitors from Italy on a mountain bike ride on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail.

Carlo is a magazine writer and is working on an article on Arkansas. He is a skier and a mountain biker. His friend, Giuliana, is a road biker. Zoie is a very good rider and is a great friend of the LOViT.

We spent the day riding the trail, taking pictures, and then finished it up with a great meal at Shangri-La Resort (and a piece of the best banana crème pie in the known universe). A great ride with some very nice people. Click on the image below to view pictures from their time on the LOViT.

Carlo and Giuliana with Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Department of Tourism and a great friend of the LOViT.

Carlo and Giuliana with Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Department of Tourism and a great friend of the LOViT.
(Click this image to view more photos of this event.)

Carlo has promised a copy of the article when it’s been published.  We’ll look forward to sharing that on our website.

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Planned For Oct. 28, 2014

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to officially open the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) has been set for:

Date: Tuesday October 28, 1014

Time: 1:00 pm

Location: The Avery Recreation Area at the Lake Ouachita’s Blakely Mountain Dam in Garland County.

This forty-mile long trail system designed for mountain biking and hiking is the result of ten years of planning, design and construction by a coalition of a dozen local, state and federal organizations. The trail courses along the southern shores of Lake Ouachita over five mountains located in the Ouachita National Forest.

The agenda for the ceremony will include remarks by:

  • Colonel John W. Cross, Colonel US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Norman Wagner, Forest Supervisor Ouachita National Forest
  • Joe David Rice, Arkansas Tourism Director
  • Jeff Crow, Deputy Director, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
  • Steve Schneider, Regional Director, International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA)

Following the ribbon cutting, there will be a two-mile hike and bike event on the Blakely Mountain section of the trail. Shuttles will be provided.

 

 

Jeff Smith – LOViT Has Lost A Very Good Friend

Jeff Durand Smith:  A Great Friend of the LOViT

Jeff Smith: A Great Friend of the LOViT

A very good friend of the LOViT and of the Traildogs, Jeff Smith,  was tragically killed Friday afternoon, Oct. 10, in a head-on collision on Highway 7 north of the town of Bismarck, AR. Jeff Smith was editor of the Special Sections of the Hot Spring Sentinel-Record and has faithfully reported the story of the building of the Trail now for 10 years, writing a great many articles about our progress.

Jeff was a dedicated supporter of the Trail. He came to our first day of construction each year without fail, from year one to our last first day this year.

From the Hot Springs Sentinel_Record Facebook page:

“Jeff Durand Smith, a valued member of The Sentinel-Record family, was killed early Friday evening in a three-vehicle accident on Highway 7 south near Bismarck in Hot Spring County.

“Jeff, the special sections editor for The Sentinel-Record, was well known in the community for his reporting of veterans affairs in Hot Springs and Garland County, his extraordinarily detailed coverage of Hot Springs Village, and his weekly coverage of western Garland County and areas beyond.

“There are no words to express the feeling of sadness and loss we feel today at The Sentinel-Record. Jeff will be sorely missed, and our prayers are with his family. We will pass on funeral information as soon as it becomes available.

“– Mark Gregory, editor”

The Traildogs are starting a fund to sponsor a trail bench in Jeff’s honor. If you would like to contribute to his fund please make a check out to “Friends of Lake Ouachita”, and mail it to 3812 Hwy 270 E, Mount Ida, AR 71957. You can also donate through PayPal using the “Donate” button on this page. Once we have the bench plaque we will host a short memorial at the bench to install the plaque.

Thank you all for your support.

Jeff, we will miss you.

Jerry

A New Trailhead Sign At Joplin, and Clearing Trees on Bear Mountain – Oct. 15, 2014

Traildogs Jeremy, Dan, John, Jerry, Chuck, and Robert show off the new Joplin Trailhead sign.  Many thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for providing these signs.

Traildogs Jeremy, Dan, John, Jerry, Chuck, and Robert show off the new Joplin Trailhead sign. Many thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for providing these signs.

Oct. 15 was a beautiful fall day for completing some work on the Trail prior to the planned October 28 at 1:00 pm Dedication Ceremony.  We had six Traildog volunteers today – myself, Robert, Dan, Chuck, John, and Jeremy – all helping install the new Trailhead sign at the Joplin Trailhead parking area.  We also cleared brush and weeds around the parking area and also the section of the Trail heading east where we utilize the old road.

We also cleared the weeds from the Trail where it crosses Mountain Harbor Road. Finally, we checked out the ADA Trail for downed limbs and debris.

Lining up these tall 6x6 posts for the new trailhead sign IS rocket science, at least for these Traildogs!

Lining up these tall 6×6 posts for the new trailhead sign IS rocket science, at least for these Traildogs!

It was a good day to be out on the Trail, and it was nice to have Chris Ham and Tom Ledbetter from the USFS join us at the trailhead.

Robert sizing up the tree and planning his cuts. Not a bad view from here!

Robert sizing up the tree and planning his cuts. Not a bad view from here!
(Click on this image to view more photos from Oct. 14, 2014)

Yesterday, Oct. 14, Traildogs Robert and Dan covered Section 7 of the LOViT from Brady Mountain Road moving west across Bear Mountain to “Laura’s Bench” just below the switchbacks overlooking Crystal Springs. Many trees were down on the Trail from recent storms accompanied by high winds.

Robert and Dan reported that while they were sitting on the bench at Traildog Vista, taking a break from clearing downed trees from across the Trail, a mature Bald Eagle suddenly came swooping slowly by, right at eye level!  This was their reward for removing those 25 downed trees!

"Indian Pipe" growing on Bear Mountain alongside the Trail. The LOViT is a terrific Trail on which to enjoy many different plants (and often animals).

“Indian Pipe” growing on Bear Mountain alongside the Trail. The LOViT is a terrific Trail on which to enjoy many different plants (and often animals).
(Click on this image to view more photos from Oct. 14, 2014.)

We are canceling the planned weed removal day scheduled for next Saturday, October 18, as it will be a busy day for deer hunters in the area, and we don’t want to take any chances on any injuries and don’t want to spoil a hunt.

Thanks

Jerry

New Signs Marking the LOViT – Oct. 1, 2014

This past week we had six volunteers assist in the installation of the new trailhead signs at the Brady Mountain Trailhead parking area.  It was a challenge to get two deep holes dug in the rock-hard clay soil, but we persevered and were able to install the two 6 X 6 treated poles and attached the six different signs required for the site.  It is now virtually impossible to miss this parking area as you drive down Brady Mountain Road.

Traildogs standing and watching while Jerry works.

Traildogs standing and watching while Jerry works.
(Click on an image to view more photos from Oct. 1, 2014)

We also attempted to construct the short spur from the parking area to the current trail on the east side of the Brady Mountain Road crossing, but it appears we need the assistance of a mini-excavator to complete this task.  We did remove all the trash, brush, downed trees, and weeds from this now-usable spur, but a day with a mini-excavator and a few volunteers would create a better spur trail down to the mineral level to help contain the re-occurrence of weeds and shrubs along this path.

We also weeded both entrances, east and west, where the trail crosses Brady Mountain Road.

Traildogs showing off the new sign along Brady Mountain Road.

Traildogs showing off the new sign along Brady Mountain Road.

We had planned to meet to install a new Joplin Trailhead sign on October 8;  however, several Traildogs will be unavailable, so this work is being deferred until October 15.

A special word of thanks to a new Traildog – Jeremy Cudzewicz – for his help last Wednesday. Jeremy, also known as “Frog”, added strength and good carpentry skills to the installation of the trailhead signs.

Jerry

Learning To LOViT – Bike Camping on the LOViT

Martina Kolm

Martina Kolm

(The following article by Martina Kolm was originally published in the Fall, 2014, edition of “Arkansas Wild” magazine.  It is reproduced here with Martina’s permission.  Martina, thank you for sharing your adventure with us.  For more information about Martina and her web design business, visit her site at http://martinasweb.com.)


 

Learning to LOViT

With the help of Traildogs and a summer sausage log

By Martina Kolm

July, 2013

During the brutal ride, everyone switched positions. Clinton, my boyfriend, retook his normal lead; I was second, then Mickey. I stopped to wait; a moment to rest and relish the grandeur of this place. We were enjoying a camping/mountain-biking trip on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (“LOViT”) near Mt. Ida, Arkansas. The extensive trail system is 25+ miles with 10+ more planned. [Now, a 45 mile IMBA-designated Epic Trail!]

Mickey biking on the LOViT's Section 3 proceeding east from the Joplin trailhead.

Mickey biking on the LOViT’s Section 3 proceeding east from the Joplin trailhead.

The beautiful mid-day sun poured its light through the canopy, bouncing off white rocks, casting almost no shadow. No traffic heard, only the sounds of nature, an auditory delight.

“Mickey, where are you? Come in”, I said into the walkie-talkie. Nothing. I had a snack.

“Mickey, I’m worried about you. Respond!” Again, nothing.

The biophony was soon drowned out by a guilty noise inside my head. You’re an idiot for thinking someone with three months biking experience could tackle this kind of ride. He’s hit his head and is passed out somewhere.

“Come in Mickey!”

The view from the campsite on Eagle Vista Spur.

The view from the campsite on Eagle Vista Spur.

I decided not to over-react and be patient. He had great judgment and natural talent. I finally heard Mickey coming up the trail. I ran to him.

“I was so worried. What happened?”

“I was getting sloppy and stopped to rest, ate a last resort backup Gel-shot. I’ve eaten everything else.”

With his walkie-talkie dead, we had to stick together. This was not a problem, as the trail turned into rocky terrain which neither of us could ride. It became a bike haul, as I followed Mickey up Hickory Nut Mountain (a 900 foot elevation gain). The problem was we didn’t know we were climbing a mountain.

Click to read the full article

Two New Benches on Section 8 – September 24, 2014

Wednesday’s weather provided a perfect day to be out on the Trail again. We had five Traildog volunteers gather today at the Brady Mountain Road Trailhead parking area to assist with the installation of two new benches along LOViT’s Section 8, which runs from Brady Mountain Road to its easternmost trailhead at the Avery Recreation Area below Blakely Mountain Dam.

Traildogs Jerry, John, Robert, Dan, and Al with the new bench just east of Brady Mountain Road.

Traildogs Jerry, John, Robert, Dan, and Al with the new bench just east of Brady Mountain Road. (34°33’44” N 93°15’25” W)
(Click to view more photos from today’s work.)

Before starting the bench installation, we worked on flagging a spur from the parking area over to the Trail some 100 feet away. There currently is no connector from the Trailhead parking to the Trail; users must hike or bike down the busy Brady Mountain roadway to enter the Trail.  Is is our plan to construct this short spur to limit having to utilize the busy roadway.

Today, we loaded up the bench frames and slates with their hardware, along with 80 lb. bags of concrete and gallon bottles of water necessary for installing the benches. The team hand-dug the two holes for the frames, then installed the frames, ensuring they were level before mixing the concrete into the holes. We then created a stone patio in front of each bench utilizing the native stone found nearby.

The second bench, located below a neat rock outcropping near the intersection of Rick's Road and Spillway Road.

The second bench, located below a neat rock outcropping near the intersection of Rick’s Road and Spillway Road. (34°34’6″ N 93°12’3″ W)
(Click to view more photos from Sept. 24, 2014)

The first bench was installed 1/2 mile from the Brady Mountain Road trailhead on the north side of the small stream that cuts across the Trail. The second bench was installed at the base of Blakely Mountain where the trail crosses a rocky drainage. Both sites provide a quite scenic seating area along the trail.

We would also like to report some good news on improving our trail signage. The US Forest Service is providing Trailhead signs for some of our Trailheads. These large signs are of first quality and will greatly enhance the the affected trailheads.  We will be installing these signs in the next couple of weeks.

We are planning another workday next Wednesday, October 1, meeting at 9:00 am at the point where the LOViT crosses Spillway Road.

Thanks,
Jerry