More Than The Miles

Hi friends!  I hope you all are having a great weekend, and enjoyed your extra hour of sleep this morning!  We’re all having a lazy Sunday here, and recuperating from our hiking trip yesterday.

Yesterday morning the alarms went off at 5:45, and we were up and out the door headed for the trail in no time.  Our destination was the Eagle Rock Loop Trail located in the Ouachita Mountains just outside of Mena, AR.  This trail is a 26.8 mile loop that John and I have completed twice.  We’ve also done several day hikes in this area.  The trail is the perfect mixture of natural beauty and a physical challenge.

Originally we planned on completing the entire 26.8 miles yesterday.  John and I did this last spring, and it was tough!  My dad signed off on the plan so we were ready to give it a shot.  Unfortunately, factors like arriving at the trailhead later than expected and the knowledge that dark comes early this time of year quickly made us abandon Plan A.

We decided to hike the hardest 12 miles of the trail instead.  One of the features of the Eagle Rock Loop is the six hills that span the trail giving you beautiful wide open views.  The views are wonderful, but the hills?  They’re no joke.

We climbed up and down 4 of them before we decided it was time to turn around.  Normally, I dislike in and out trails, but going back over the hills from the other direction is so different that it was almost like an entirely new trail!

I was dealing with a runner’s knee flare up so the last section of the hike was a little bit painful.  It was made so much better by the beautiful fall colors that were exploding everywhere.  The colors around home have started to fade a bit so I was not prepared for the beauty we experienced yesterday.  I can honestly say the colors were better than they have been in several years, and I was so glad we were able to experience them.

I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to complete the whole trail.  I am sometimes guilty of focusing too much on mileage and the challenge, and not stopping to enjoy the wonders around me.  When I get in this mindset, nature quickly reminds me of the reason why I choose to hike.  The wonder of being off the grid in a space where relatively few people venture is amazing.  It’s almost like our own private playground, and being there evokes such a feeling of a joy in me that the mileage becomes so unimportant.  Hiking is so much more than that.

If you ever find yourself in Arkansas, promise me you’ll check this trail out.  It really is one of the best ones in this part of the country and something you shouldn’t miss out on.  I’ll even be your tour guide!

Did you enjoy the great outdoors this weekend?

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19 thoughts on “More Than The Miles

  1. Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale

    I don’t think there would be a single reason for me to be in Arkansas OTHER than being on this trail with you as my guide, so yes! I will make you that promise!! 😉
    I’m SOOO happy you could look outside the NUMBERS and see the real BEAUTY in the little things that made your day so bright. (hmm. Perhaps we can draw a parallel or two to other numbers and beauty concepts … ?)
    I love how big of a smile this post brought to my face. Knowing that you were in nature, happy, and surrounded by loved ones gives me the best feeling of happiness!!
    Hope you carry your smiles through the week and that you got enough rest to keep you ticking and kicking through your days!! xo

  2. Carrie

    Yayaya for hiking! Gorgeous pictures, Natalie! Oh, and just so you know, you are the only person/reason why I would go to Arkansas. Just sayin’. :)

  3. Change of Pace

    Wow- that hike looks gorgeous! I love the beautiful fall leaves. It sounds like an amazing day!
    Last year when my knee was really bad and we were hiking a lot, I got hiking poles. It seemed to help quite a bit to take some of the weight and downhill stress off my knee.

    1. Natalie @ Free Range Human Post author

      Thanks, Abby! The colors were so beautiful. It really is the best I’ve seen it in years.

      I do have poles that I take with me on our long backpacking trips, but for some reason I always forget them on day hikes. In fact, I told John on Saturday one of these days I’m going to learn that I can’t go anywhere without them!

  4. Amy

    How beautiful! We have very few spots like that here in the desert, so I love looking at pictures of places that have more fall foliage! And major kudos to you for hiking 12 hard miles, not to mention the 26.8 mile hikes you’ve done in the past!

    1. Natalie @ Free Range Human Post author

      Thanks, Amy! I was super impressed with the foliage this weekend. It really is the best I’ve seen it in years. The 26.8 was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but now I find myself itching to try it again!

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