Spring Break on the Buffalo River Trail

Spring Break is usually reserved for the wild at heart. Or that’s how the stigma goes at least. Where we head off to distant beaches and lose our minds and memories in a fit of passion that will last us the rest of the year until the sacred time comes again.

That’s all good and fine, I admire those who burn burn burn bright. All day and night. But that road never suited me much.

So spring break rolled back around in the year of 2013 and one of my best friends and I decided we’d take a less conventional approach to the holiday of the mad. We set out eyes and hearts instead on the Buffalo River Trail in my native land of Arkansas. A stretch of roughly 18 miles that we’d conquer over the course of two to three days.

Ben had recently outfitted himself with all the best gear he could. You see we’d been dreaming of the Appalachian Trail back then and he was preparing far in advance. Something I admired and was grateful for, as we’d need all the gear eventually.

It was a perfect day as we rolled on into our starting point. Parking the truck next to the river with the majestic cliffs there to greet us. We could hardly wait to get started. We believed we were absolutely prepared, and all the needed now was to start putting ground behind our feet.

We made good time. Packs on our back and a constant stream of conversation to help pass the hours. We passed a tall bleached tree and imagined we were in the land of Westeros and we had found our holy godswood.

Later we found an old abandoned cabin along the trail and decided it was good a place as any to have lunch at. Ben prepared his fancy stove he’d obtained and I roamed the grounds trying to envision what this place had looked like in it’s glory. With the children and animals occupying this little piece of eden as the outside world continued with it’s own problems.

The day was pure bliss. We climbed hills and descended into valleys that looked something akin to the woods of the elves from middle earth. We passed by graveyards where age old veterans of the civil war were laid to rest and a whole generations of families laid in eternal slumber.

We got lost here and there, but it was all apart of the adventure. It didn’t matter anyways as we’d covered our 14 or 16 miles we wanted to and finally began to set up our camp. Gathering wood and eating out food. Preparing for the night to come

The night however didn’t treat us so well. We’d had a warm day, but the night was just as bitter as the day was beautiful. Ben’s sleeping bag wasn’t quite rated for the cold we endured. While mine barely did the job. Either way we both hardly got a wink of sleep.

I awoke the next day with Ben huddled by a small fire, trying to rid his bones of the chill. He looked to be in bad shape and I wasn’t feeling to grand myself. We both concluded that we didn’t have the energy to continue another day or two of this venture and decided that it was probably best to turn back and call it a trip.

The only problem was that we were still miles away from the nearest road. So we broke camp and after about seven miles we finally found a road that we’d hope would be our salvation. We walked it for a spell and finally came across a small town. Asking around we found no one willing to give us a ride back to our start point. So we decided to leg it back to our truck and hoped to catch a ride along he way.

After throwing our thumbs up for around an hour or two a truck finally pulled over with a warm mother in the drivers seat and her baby in the back. She told us to hop in the bed and we were off. We whooped and yelled with triumph. We’d succeeded and were now on the first hitch of our life. Sure it wasn’t a glorious hitch from one metropolis to another but it was exactly what we’d been hoping for and would save us several hours of pain.

The trees rolled on past and our pride and happiness grew. We eventually made it back to our start point with many thanks and warm handshakes to the woman.

Although the trip hadn’t been exactly what we’d envisioned it shared a couple lessons with us that we’d take into our future adventures. We never got caught up in thinking we were totally prepared again. Thinking it better to check weather and conditions better before hand. We learned to always anticipate the worst. And vowed to never let our greeness and little experience get the best of us again.

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