Tim and I finally got together for a 4-day bikepacking trip in Arkansas. The trip involved a loop around Lake Ouachita on forest roads and trails. It was just the kind of trip that I had in mind when I ordered the Bantam AdventureBike. We started on April 1, fully aware that there was an almost certain chance we’d experience thunderstorms somewhere along the way. So the working title of this spring’s adventure sort of wrote itself. I’d encourage you to check his blog write-up. He did a better job than I did of telling the story. This post will include mainly a few of my favorite photos and a link to a pretty rough amateur video for which I must (unfortunately) take responsibility.
The thing about photos is that they never fully convey the magnitude, depth, scale, and feel of reality. The vistas were more dramatic. The climbs were steeper, rougher, and longer. And I was certainly more handsome. The photo above, for example, doesn’t communicate how far we are above a river directly below. We are on a ridge, and at least a hundred feet directly above the river. Standing so close to the edge gave me a sort of adrenaline turbo charge.
I’m still learning how to use the used GoPro camera I recently bought. Sometimes the wide angle lens gives me fits and doesn’t capture the image I had in my mind when I pulled the trigger. At other times, like at our breakfast scene above, it turns out better than I expected. The camera is easy to carry, waterproof, and has lots of capacity. So I’ll probably continue to play with it for awhile.
My photo highlights include three images from the Moonshine Shelter. Not only was it visually interesting to me because of the foggy, forest look I don’t get back home on the prairie, it also is memorable due to the weather and travel challenge that proceeded our arrival. Words can’t express how wonderful dry clothes and a hot meal felt. Sleeping in our hammocks out of the rain that night was sublime. This place produced a kind of gratitude that don’t think I’ll ever forget.
What a contrast the next day’s camp would be! Instead of on a chilly, stormy ridgetop, we’d be on a sunny lakeshore. It seemed we were continually fortunate. What we needed (in this case a chance to dry our wet things), always seemed to come along in due time.
One of the things that came along in due time was breakfast on the last day. We broke camp before dawn because we wanted to have our breakfast at a cafe about 7 miles into our route. When we arrived, we learned the chosen cafe doesn’t open until lunch time. Fortunately, Tim (the navigation wizard) spotted this place. Inside was (crazy) hot coffee, and a delicious bisquit/egg/cheese/sausage sandwich that fueled us physically and mentally for several miles.
So if you’ve made it this far, have another 10 minutes, and you want to see more images sprinkled here and there with some video go HERE.
Many thanks to my good friend, Tim! I, most definitely, want to do more of this kind of bicycling.
Of all the things to do on a bicycle bikepacking is my favorite. Great write up Chris! Freedom is what it’s about my friend.
I think I agree with your bikepacking-as-favorite comment. Riding bikes all day, and camping at night seems just right somehow.
Loved the video. The music sets the mood so nicely. Sounds like the Bantam is working well for you. Look forward to more trip reports.
Thanks, Doug. The Bantam is truly fantastic! I didn’t realize that a bike could be so fully loaded and so easy to maneuver over rough terrain. I’ve caught the off-road touring bug in a big way.
I had no idea there were opportunities like that in Arkansas. Were you mostly in National Forest? Thanks for sharing.
Yes, we were almost entirely in the Ouachita National Forest. I’ll be heading back to Arkansas to the same National Forest, but in a completely different area in early May. There are gobs of other places like this in the same National Forest, and also in the Ozarks National Forest. Much to explore within 5-8 hours of my house in north Texas.