Shaking Down on the Ozark Highland Trail

Girl? Where you been?

Been a long time since my last post! In that time I have been between work and training for my April start on the AT. A lot of my training has been off trail and in the gym, as I have been following (albeit very loosely) the fit to hike program by Nomads with a Purpose. This program has really helped me to build the strength and endurance I need to push for miles safely.

How do I know this program is working, you may ask? Well, it is because I tested it by doing a 40-mile shake-down on the Ozark Highland Trail (OZHT) in Arkansas. Overall, my body recovered quickly from the previous day’s miles and took on climbs and descents well. The total trip mileage broke down was the following:

Day 1- 6.5 miles (because we got lost finding the recreation area)

Day 2- 12.6 miles

Day 3- 10.9 miles

Day 4 – 9.1 miles (in five hours I might add)

Midwest trails are slept on! Go visit them!

As someone from the Midwest, I find that many of the thru hikes and trails in the midwest are ignored or under appreciated as they dont have the “views” or aren’t a major pillar in American hiking history. Hiking in the Midwest is already made difficult due to the limited access to land intended for public use, that getting to good requires a lot of research and some driving. Go check out Chaunce’s through hike of the OZHT!

Guys, don’t sleep on this trail. It is lovely. From being incredibly well kept, decent climbs, amazing views, and a fun historic rock shelter. The wildlife was gorgeous and generally well behaved. We did have a choir of coyotes who came a little too close to us on our second night while cowboy camping. It gave me a good taste of what life will be like for the next 6 months. Also, this hike allowed me to shake off a lot of the worries and fears that have been accumulating while I wait to start the AT.

My friends and I started the hike from White Rock Mountain to Lick Branch section of the OZHT. On this trip, I had some novice backpackers who handled the experience incredibly well especially since there was so much water and a couple of previous landslides that had taken out the trail. Overall, I found this roughly 40 mile section a great test of my physical and mental fitness for handling trail. This particular section has a lot of ups and downs in elevation gain paired with some sections of trails that had recently be washed out. I found this combination to greatly challenge me to see what I am capable of in a 4 day trip. I was pleasantly surprised to find that with the proper calorie intake I could put out about 10-12 miles a day and possibly more if I was hiking by myself.

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