Here's a trip report from the Texas/Arkansas Gear Geeks Gathering. We started from the Winding Stair Trail Head and hiked the Eagle Rock Loop counterclockwise.
From left to right, Richard, Landon, Eric and me. We all met at the parking lot and were quickly on the trail.
I was using my new Chris Zimmer pack. It was slightly overkill for a short trip with light loads but not by much. It only weighs about 30 oz and the compression straps did a good job of shrinking it down for a smaller load.
Eric (in front) and Richard. Eric was using a new model Golite Jam 50. I tried it on and it seemed like a nice pack but the hipbelt was too big for my hips.
Just as it was getting dark we found a campsite big enough for all of us. We built a fire (thanks Landon for dragging in a bunch of wood) and enjoyed dinner together.
I was a bit more creative in my meals on this trip. For dinner I ate a Mtn. House and apple slices dipped in Nutella. It doesn't get much better then that.
Eric in his Six Moons Designs Scout.
Richard's MYOG tarptent. If I recall this is his first MYOG project like this. Very impressive.
That morning it was freezing cold. We'd expected a low of 40 but it felt a bit lower then that (it probably was and camping next to a river in the bottom of a valley didn't help).
Hiking along the Little Missouri River was fun.
Landon was using a Blast 30 from Zpacks. It was the first good look I'd had at this pack and I was pretty impressed with it.
Little Missouri Falls was nice. Leigh met us in the parking lot at the falls.
Shortly after Leigh joined us James caught up too us.
After climbing up the first ridge Landon and Eric led the way down a side trail with great views.
We ate lunch while admiring the scenery. This time I had a granola bar with my Nutela. The rest of the group pitched in to lighten my load a bit by helping me eat my large bag of Peanut M&Ms.
It was great having guys along who knew the trail. If I'd been on my own I might have missed the side trail to all these great views.
The trail led over a series of ridges (6 if I recall). Leigh was having a knee issue so she camped early by FR 106 and hiked down the road to the trailhead the next day. We went on a bit farther (mostly because there were no good campsites for a group our size). Leigh could camp wherever she wanted too because she was carrying a hammock.
At a rest stop the group lightened my pack a bit more by helping me finish off the M&Ms.
With the sun going down we found a campsite in a valley. Here is Landon's Hexamid.
James' Gatewood Cape.
Eric in his hammock. Notice that he's wearing Merrell Trail Gloves. He's done this loop twice in them and said they'd held up pretty well. His feet got a bit beat up toward the end of the day but some of that was probably due to the rugged trail.
We had another fire and I ate the last of my Nutela.
My alcohol stove worked very well on the trip. Eric generously shared his garlic seasoning with me and it made the Mtn. House Beef Stew a thousand times better. I definitely need to create a spice kit before my next big trip.
I didn't get a good picture of Eric's MYOG version of a Caldera Cone. He'd cut a pie pan up and wrapped it around a ebsit stove for greater efficiency.
I set my tarp up with two logs on either side. My plan was for them to block the wind although this was not really necessary.
The next day we woke up to a drizzle of rain(not in the weather forecast by the way).
There were a number of small creek crossings as we headed back toward the Little Missouri River.
James got a chance to use his cape.
The low water had allowed us to cross the river and side creeks on rocks but now we were forced to wade the river.
The bluffs along the river were very cool. The poor lighting limited our photography. I'd love to shoot some pictures there again on a clear day.
The hike down the valley was cool
We stopped to take some pictures then Landon noticed a spider.
I think we spent about 30 minutes playing with various camera settings. It was tricky getting a picture because of the lighting and the clouds.
After that we quickly hiked the last bit of trail back to the parking lot where Leigh was waiting for us.
After the trip most of us met up at a Mexican restaurant for a post trip meal.
It was a great trip with a great group of folks and I hope we can share the trail again someday.