It’s so good that spring is continuing to push its way forward despite the recurrent weather setbacks.
We are still going from 70 degrees in the daytime to 33 degrees at night and the rains are here about every 2 to 3 days. But because of the rain here in Arkansas, we are blessed with amazing woods with many varieties of plants and trees. We have several mountain ranges and great , hiking trails and waterfalls. Our two main mountain ranges are the Ozark Mountains which spans into Missouri , and, the Ouachita Mountains which spans from the West to North and Northeast into Oklahoma.
The Ouachita National Recreation Trail ties the Talimena State Park in Oklahoma to the Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. This trail section is a 223 mile trail that takes hikers into some of the most remote territory in Central United States. The elevations of this trail run from 600 feet to 2,600 feet. Multiple accesses allow hikers to go on day trips of 13 to 26 miles or go for it all.
The Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail is about 165 miles of hiking and some biking trails. The 165 mile trip starts at Lake Fort Smith State Park in western Arkansas, up through the Ozark National Forrest to the Buffalo National River Trail. There are plans underway to connect the Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail to the Ozark Mountains Trail in Missouri and thereby making a 700 mile hiking trail system. There are amazing scenic views, dense forest, and breathtaking rock formations on this mountain range.
Whichever of the hiking trails are chosen, it is important to have a proper fitting hiking pack and some essentials to insure a safe and fun trip. A few features you might want and need to check out on a pack before buying are:
Does it have any top or side openings to run a water hose out from an aqua pack?
Do you want a front/ center handle used to lift the pack or occasionally carry the pack like a suitcase?
Does it have an attached Rain Cover?
Is the pack frame height adjustable?
And is there plenty of padding at the shoulder girth and at the lumbar support area?
Then you can decide if you want an internal or external frame system. Internal frame means the supports of the pack are covered with cloth and are mainly out of view. The external frame has the backpack attached to the support frame outside of the pack bag. Most of the internal frames are a bit more compact and less bulky. But most of the external frames allow for more attachment areas on the outside to hang another pair of shoes or a bag of pots and pans. Also the external frame packs can be easily removed for total washing of the bag. But mostly it is a matter of personal preference on frames.
Most important of all, Try It On before making your final choice.
In order to get the best fit for comfort and ease of carrying a loaded backpack, you will need to pull the shoulder straps that go under your arms to a snug fitting position. These should not cause any numbness in your arms or irritation under your arms. Then pull the top straps that pulls the bag itself, into your shoulder harness. The bulk of weight of the backpack should rest on the upper portion of the the back at the shoulder blades. If too much weight is at the lower back area, it will cause lower lumbar strain and pain. Carrying too much weight down low will fatigue you very quickly. Now, fasten the chest strap snugly and slide it up or down to rest just above or below nippleline. This too should be snug but not pinch or compress your chest. Too much chest compression will hinder your air intake.
Adjust and fasten the waist belt. This strap should rest a little below the waist right at or slightly above the pelvic bones. If this strap is too low and falls to the hip joint, it will inhibit your ability to lift your leg high enough to step over logs, or up boulders or leap across a stream.
The size and stature of the hiker is a consideration when choosing the size of the pack. Most are measured by liters and/ or cubic inches. The pack will state 30 L or 3300 L, 40 L or 4400 L, or 50 L, 90 L, 110 L, and etc. Remember, the bigger the bag, the more stuff one tends to pack into it, and ounces add up quickly.
It's always a good idea to carry a compass, map, flash light, small first Aid kit, a light jacket, and plenty of water. Sometimes a planned 4 hour hike can turn into an 8 hour or over-nighter if you take a wrong turn or have a mishap. With very little effort and a small amount of space, you can insure a happy hike with a happy ending.
Bass Pro Shop, Little Rock, Arkansas