Ouachita Trail in Little Rock, AR

Kelly, Alma, Tom & Chris #003

Kelly, Alma, Tom & Chris

Look closely for Alma #054

Look closely for Alma

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#004

#020

#020

#035

#035

#050

#050

Date Line:  March 8, 2008
Time: 7:30AM
Place:  Little Rock, AR Ouachita Trail


Today, Alma, my friends/running buddies, Tom and Kelly, and I, Chris Bettis,  all met up to travel to our favorite trail, the Ouachita Trail. We have run most of this trail many times, over many years. This trail has lots of entry and exit points on roads and this morning we decided to go to one that was about 14 miles from my home in West Little Rock.  It was a beautiful morning, sunny, cool- around 40 degrees and a morning where snow was still remaining on the ground, in the shady areas, from a rare snow storm for this area.  We were all excited and ready to take Alma to the woods, a place where all respectable Airedales can kick up their heels! Our plans were to run about 17 miles- over hill and dale (no, not Aire and Dale) an out and back.  We took our first picture of this rowdy group at one of the entry points – where the 202 trail marker was- (pic 003)

Let me tell you that if you ever get a chance to come to Arkansas and if you enjoy the outdoors, come and experience the parks, trails and recreation areas. There is not a more beautiful place than Arkansas- the Natural State-- tons of lakes, rivers and wooded areas to enjoy the beauty of nature. One of the most beautiful yet challenging trails for running is the Ouachita Trail.  (pic 004) It is historic. This long, tough trail offers the scenic grandeur of voluminous mountains, rolling hills, broad valleys, and clear-running streams. Elevations range from 600 to more than 2,600 feet. Distance: 224.0 miles from the western trailhead at Talimena State Park in Oklahoma to Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Arkansas. The Ouachita National Forest retains the raw, unspoiled beauty of a wilderness first seen by Spanish conquistadors more than 450 years ago. French explorers who came later gave the region its name. “Ouachita” is the French spelling of the Indian word “Washita,” which means “good hunting grounds.”

Because of the rain and snow prior to that weekend, the low lands were flooded with water and the smaller creeks were fuller, making a fun but wet adventure run. I get gleeful when it comes to water, no matter the temperatures or depths. I got over getting wet and dirty a long time ago- just like my beloved past Airedales, Lady and Alex.  They loved splashing through and I decided that Alma needed to get a bit wet and dirty too, tucked under my water belt!  (pic 0054)

The trail was beautiful, dusted with sparkling virgin snow, occasionally showing foot prints of creatures that had passed by earlier. There are lots of hills (pic 020), rocky areas to climb, (pic 0069) and small bridges to cross more active waters (pic 035).  We had not been on this part of the trail since last November.  That day we had completed a long trail run and somehow I lost one glove- of course a favorite pair. I commented to my friends that Alma and I were keeping our eyes open for that glove!  They laughed as it had been over 4 months ago that I lost it and had no idea where!


We had a great run and turned around at the 8.5 mile mark (we do carry a GPS wristwatch for mileage and lap time) and we were just getting back to stride when Alma started to bark!  She wanted down out of my belt and ran to a snowy area in the middle of the road (pic 050). She looked very pleased with herself and as I bent over to examine her find- I was amazed to see my black glove from months ago!  It was wet and muddy but definitely the match to the lonely one waiting in my laundry room!  Good Girl!  True story- at least the part about finding the glove! 

We finished our run hours later. It had been a wonderful day, full of beautiful sites to see, laughs to share with friends, waters to splash through, and memories to store. 

Invite Alma to come visit your place.  Alma is a good excuse to create some new memories. Go outdoors and play.

 Chris