Being safe outdoors

Good idea, not always possible. For active people on two wheels or four, on snow or water, hiking, hunting or whatever — something or somebody can whack you. I have been lucky in around a quarter-million miles on a motorcycle and now closing in on 1000 miles on a bicycle (plus skiing, hiking, kayaking) — often alone — to not have been hurt along the way.

My friend John Chalmers was wearing a RoadID  the other day when we rode together — an item about which I had thought before — and that spurred me to get one. Not expensive and it makes medical and contact info immediately available to first responders. I plan to wear mine 24/7 as soon as it comes in the mail. If you are active, think about it. Click the logo for more info.

Bikes, hikes and fishing

After the “full body workout” from the mountain-biking on Saturday, bro-in-law Bill and I decided a stroll in the woods would be a nice outing. We strategically picked the Little Missouri Trail because it had been one of the candidates for mountain-biking that had been passed up in favor of the Lake Ouachita Vistas Trail.

The Little Missouri River at the Albert Pike Recreation Area
Example of flood damage at Albert Pike

We had gone the previous day to the Albert Pike Recreation Area, the site of the devastatng flood on June 11, 2010. Our hike would be on the trail from the Little Missouri Falls to Albert Pike. That trek gave us a good understanding of how devastating the flood damage was, and why so many people were unable to escape the torrent of water that washed down the canyon in the wee hours of that morning.

High water mark
High water on the bulletin board

The photograph on the left is of a U.S. Geologic Survey high water mark on a sign post in the parking lot. The photo on the right is a high water placard on the bulletin board in the same lot.

Just 50 yards away is another parking lot overlooking the river in a way

River view

that allowed getting a perspective of how high the rise of the water really was. In this photo, the camera is being held level, even with the high-water placard, looking straight across the river.

I’m guessing it’s at least a 25 foot rise. The area across the river in this shot is typical of where people were camped and you can see how they would have been under many feet of water.

On Sunday we drove to the Little Missouri Falls to hike a small portion of a trail that is over 20 miles in total length. The trail in this section goes 6.3 miles to Albert Pike. Interestingly, by road it is eight miles. This section of the trail begins at the overlook at the Falls. It follows the river through the pine and hardwood forest that populates the river canyon.

That's Bill at the start of the Little Missouri Trail -- this view is typical of the trail environment.
Typical view of the river in this section.

We had a round trip planned because we had not dropped a car at the other end. So it would be about a three mile hike, or 12.6 if we did the full length and back. Hiking with a day pack (with 2 liters of water) a 3 mph average is the best pace likely for us old geezers. We decided to strike out and see how it went. We were in no hurry and wanted time to take pictures and soak up the delicious ambiance of the forest.

The trail occasionally opens up to allow a peek at the adjacent mountains that tower over the river canyon. In spite of the appearance of lush green, the area is actually as dry as we’ve been in Central Texas. Along the way we talked to a group of three young guys who were on their third day of hiking and who would finish that afternoon by completing the entire trail combined with two other trails for a total of about 26 miles. One of them had hiked in Colorado, Idaho and Alaska and said the upper section had 70 degree climbs and was harder than anything he had encountered before.

A gulley to the river
Boulders at one of the crossings

The photo at left doesn’t adequately demonstrate it, but it’s a steep drop to the river and indicative of some of the ups and downs of the trail. It also crosses the river at several places such as what you see at the right with giant boulders enabling a dry crossing. Dry if you don’t stumble, that is! Here is another example of the trail rising well above the river.

Gil on the trail well above the river

We stopped at about 3 miles, had lunch, and started back. Of course, it was generally uphill at that point since we were then traveling upstream. Back at the Falls parking area, we were treated with one of the more interesting ATVers. They come to the Little Missouri Falls parking area to rendezvous and recuperate.

We’ve challenged ourselves to do the full trail one day. That’s going to require a lot of additional conditioning and equipping. We’ll see.

And what does all of this have to do with fishing?  On Monday afternoon cousin Larry and I headed down to the Caddo River to see about finding some bass. We were determined to use plastic worms which I’ve used in Central Texas lakes a lot, but which we had not used in the Caddo. On about my 5th cast, which was just a little wrist flick near a downed tree which lay on top of a pile of limbs in about two feet of water, my green Wave worm was viciously attacked by a really (really!) nice “Brownie” bass that I’m guessing would weigh four pounds and was about 22 inches long. That’s a bass that’s built like a largemouth black bass but without the black stripe.  And would you know?  Me, the consummate photographer, without a camera. We were wading and I had been afraid of slipping and drowning my camera!  But Larry was there so at least I have a witness.  Larry has fished that river all his life and declared that to be the biggest fish he had ever seen taken from that river. That big dude is back in the river to be caught another day.