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    • Thank you 🙂 I do love beating the stereo-type. Just because we are women, doesn’t mean we need a guy to enjoy the wild.

  1. I had no idea you were a writer! Of course I have no idea what pretty much anyone does now but Bravo! Proud of you, in my own little way 🙂

  2. Great to know about this trail. I have done a lot of hiking in the Ouachita Mountains but never this one. Beautiful views.

  3. We always try to capture pics of the scary outdoor potties. It’s a pity you don’t have one to share 🙂 Great write up though. What a cool National Park. We love NPS and will go out of our way for our National Park Passport stamps. If you want to share anything through our website, we’d love to work on a feature with you, as #FindYourPark is a theme we love to develop on. Let us know!

    • Thank you! Big Bend is an awesome place. I am absolutely love the National Parks System and am trying to make my way around to most of them too. I have to admit I’m a little partial to Hot Springs National Park, because that is my hometown.

  4. We visited Arkansas for the first time last May and really enjoyed our time there. We hiked a few trails including Hawksbill Crag at Whitaker Point. It was amazing. Can’t wait to go back and enjoy this hike!

  5. Thanks for the share. As they say “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” 🙂

  6. Wow, what a way to make good use of a short time in a wonderful place. I’m all about visiting a place, even if your time is limited. It is so much better than not going at all! Nice job.

  7. my now passed best friend and myself made a few memorable hikes to the rim , i have to mention after our first we always request campsite SE1 . this waz many , many years ago . i remember what seemed halfway up and after switch back and more switchback the trail opened up into an incredible meadow . it was so beautiful , deer grazed along side other wildlife , in what i remember thinking had to be what my personal vision of heaven . the animals did not pay us any mind , we sat and took lunch in a moment ….well you know of what i speak …unforgettable. i was told a forest fire completely razed this meadow . i still wonder if it did , and if so will it come back . i hope so .itz a place i wish upon all people, and texans more directly due to this place existing in their backyard . peace to all .todd

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  10. Wow! very practical. You could definitely apply these basic rules during international travel, also. I really like the ping-pong table photo 😀

  11. The tips you gave here are handy to anyone travelling to any metropolitan city in this world. Even in India I can say that knowing these things can only make travelling much safer!!!

  12. Nice post! I love getting lost – maybe because I have no choice. I’m so terrible with directions that I’m able to pick a wrong way even with google maps on. But you’re right, it may lead you to some cool places not even mentioned in your guidebook. It happens to me on regular basis. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Really practical advice! I definitely agree about learning how public transportation works. If there are any city-specific apps, that’s useful too! And for international travel, knowing how to get a taxi is pretty important (especially as many cities adopt taxi apps). Thanks for sharing!

  14. I would highly recommend you never leave food in your car in bear country, convertible or hard top it doesn’t matter if a bear wants in it will get in.

  15. Thank you so much for writing this. I am embarking on a 4 months solo journey in Southeast Asia soon and my biggest fear isn’t safety, or loneliness, or money, but MIGRAINES.

    I have yet to find any medications that work for me. When I get a migraine attack, there’s nothing I can do but sit or lie down and pray that it will go away soon. I am really worried that it will affect my solo journey especially in areas where clinics and hospitals may not be available 🙁

  16. Nice article! I totally agree that backpacking makes you appreciate “normal” things much more. No.1 for me is always hot shower 😀 and the fact that I don’t have to walk any more 😉 Backpacking is creating a perspective and that’s so important.

  17. Hey there! My friends and I are going there this summer and only have two days as well. Yellowstone is something I have wanted to see for some time now, and the waterfalls are something I want to see very badly! If you could give some advice as far as what you would say is a must see I would appreciate it!

    • I would say definitely see Old Faithful and the other geysers around it. Yellowstone Falls is amazing. The drive in between the two is very neat too, but give yourself lots of time. I think it was about a two-hour drive for us.

  18. Beautiful photos 🙂 Miners Falls is as impressive as just about any waterfall I’ve seen, and I love the contrasting landscapes of both the woodland and the coast. Fun activities too, definitely make it a great destination!

  19. I love reading your adventures (miss and otherwise!) I just finished reading ‘Night of the Grizzlies’ so the bear thing sounded really scary.

  20. I love this story. I just finished writing a misadventures post about my recent adventure off-road in the Iron Range. I won’t spoil it, but I will say we got stuck, bad, on my brothers birthday and we weren’t getting out by ourselves. I try to learn from my mistakes. I keep a trunk full of emergency tools rations and other gear just in case we need them. Maybe I should do a post about that too.

  21. Have you ever considered going to Everglades National Park? We’re talking about doing that one next year. Would love your input!

  22. Mara! I’m Bethannie Newsom Steelman and I know I’ve seen you around before. I finished the LOViT yesterday because of you. I referenced your blog every bit as I referenced my trail map. In fact, your journey journal here became a different kind of map. From Shangri La to Blakeley dam, you kept me going. I’m writing about my hike as well on my shitty Facebook page “Camping in Arkansas.” I’d like to reference your blog publicly with your permission. I’d also like to hang out with you. https://m.facebook.com/bethanniecampsalot/

  23. I love your honesty. I’m constantly going hiking alone, even though I’m married. We’re both okay with that. I have plenty of GFs to go hiking with if I want to.
    We’re also looking no fostering kids since we never had any of our own. I don’t think a person should ever put an expiration date on their dreams.

  24. So glad you were featured on HLAW – your post totally sums up my life as a single 35 year old who loves to hike on her own. I just got back from a second trip to Big Bend and love seeing this write up from your time there. If you ever need an adventure buddy in west Texas, you have my email 🙂

  25. Hike ON and ROCK ON! Two words to learn are “No Regrets”! I’m 58 years old and was married for 12 years, divorced now with no children. No Regrets. Hiking and backpacking at my age, solo or with others, still fills my soul with such happiness and peace of mind. My five year plan at 20 or 30 certainly was different than the one I have now at almost 60. LIVE your life as if there is no tomorrow. Do what makes you happy. Travel to places you want to see. LIVE LIFE. See beautiful things. Peace…

  26. Thanks for sharing. I’m in the exact same situation. Made a decision to stop waiting me start living a couple of years ago and it lifted a lot of weight from my shoulders. And you’re right: God knows what’s best and He has a plan for us.

    Sometimes it is frustrating, because our community has different standards and it does feel like you’re an outsider if your in your thirties and not married. But as you said, it gives heaps of opportunities too. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to find my soulmate and live happily ever after , but I’m not gonna sit around and wait. Together with my dog I discover the world and hike as much as I can where I can. Because: ‘In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.’. And this is so true!

    Lots of love from the Netherlands!

  27. One tip: even if you have a hoodie, wear a cap with a bill. Hoodies fall down over my eyes but a cap maintains my field of vision as well as keeping my face dry.

  28. Great advice from everyone! In addition to the things listed I also make my own deodorant and toothpaste, and am working on other products – soap, body wash, lotion, candles, etc. I’m doing so in an effort to reduce the amount of chemicals I personally use on my body and in my home but also to reduce the amount of chemicals and waste used in the manufacturing of such products. Obviously I am only one person and may not make a significant change, but it all starts with one person!

  29. The only time that I’ve had a full blown anxiety attack was while camping in a full campground. Like you, I heard drunk people get a little crazy and start to threaten people. I wish people knew that just being out in nature doesn’t mean they don’t need to be responsible!

  30. Once on a hike I was run over by several large boulders. My hiking companions had to carry me out. Fortunately, they were young, strong, hefty men. I was mortified at the struggle I caused. The fear of repeating this scenario has kept me moving more often than I care to admit.

  31. You mentioned several national organizations in which to support but there are more local, grassroots clubs or organizations in need of more volunteers.
    I write not just to you but your blog readers to consider investing your sweat equity for the benefit of your favorite trail, local or statewide.
    Join a work group or adopt a section of trail to maintain annually. Stash a trash bag in your vehicle in which to collect trailhead trash. Maybe slip a pair of pruning clippers into your pack in the event you encounter brush or small branches encroaching the trail.
    Every little bit helps and you’ll feel the satisfaction for having done so.

  32. Hemmed-in-Hollow is definitely a beautiful sight, but the walk back up the hill to the Compton parking lot is a killer for sure!

    Water and fruits/nuts/jerky become your best friends here for sure.

  33. My husband and I are planning to combine the Sneeds Creek trail and the Hemmed-in-Hollow trail two weekends from now.

    I’m glad I came across your description. It will help us be the right kind of lost for sure!

  34. The Big Bear Shelter is one of my favorites. I like its location in that scenic valley and the fact that the stream runs right next to it. It may have been dry during your hike.
    Nice photos and write up.

    Marty

  35. Also from Arkansas and are planning a trip this summer to Glacier with husband and two teenagers. Trying to decide on driving or flying – was the drive just terrible?

    • Jennifer, hello! I love road trips, so the drive to me wasn’t bad. We did it in two days, with each day at about a 14-hour drive. We met up in Fayetteville and drove to Cheyenne, Wyo., then on to Glacier. As odd as it sounds, Cheyenne is half way. It was long driving days, but the trip was beautiful! I loved driving through Wyoming and Montana. On the way back, we stopped in Yellowstone for two days so it wasn’t such a long drive. We got about an hour on this side of Denver and got a hotel. Then I drove all the way back to Hot Springs. I hope that helps!

      • Thank you! That does help. We would start in southern Arkansas so that would add a few more hours to the trip. Just trying to decide if losing those four days in Glacier is worth the savings.
        Enjoyed reading about your trip and saved some ideas for ours!

  36. Great article. I too suffer from them. Have for years, didn’t realize that my sensitivity to light that made me nauseaus was a symptom. I didn’t realize that my occassional bionic ears that make my head feel rattled by a simple normal sound was a symptom too. I too used Topomax for a bit. Mostly suffer because I don’t like taking meds routinely. Dark and quiet room with a nap helps sometimes. When I have time for it.

  37. I love the picture of the 3 of you ready to kayak! Inspirational! I would love to have a friend or two that are outdoorsy. Lucky ladies!

  38. MSR did not include enough guy line for the Hubba Hubba NX. The pieces included were short little pieces for the ends and no extra for the guy points on the doors.

  39. Thanks for this post! I gave up on a waterfall hike this past weekend (Fuzzybutt –also in the Ozarks) and was quite disappointed about it. I tried three times to find the right trail but it wasn’t in the stars for me. Picking up a few ticks (myself, sadly, not my pup ) was icing on my rotten cake… This made me feel a bit better!!

  40. My indulgence is not a food (anything you can eat on the trail is essential!) I love my soft leather moccasins. They feel so good on my feet after a long hike.

  41. You are braver than me, no amount of oeer oressure would gave gotten a bull testicle in my mouth! I slept in the Jeep for the first time this year, and like you, I loved it!!! I make it a point to try as many new things as I can, sometimes the comfort stretch is minimal and other times it’s huge, but it’s always rewarding.

  42. Hi Mara,
    Thanks for sharing your story! I totally connect! I’m 47 and single since ’99 (throw in the occasional relationship lol). I decided long ago that I would not put my life on hold just waiting for that someone special. I travel quite a bit internationally and over this last year have started pursuing more hiking and will do my first multi-night backpacking in the next couple weeks! I grew up ‘car camping’ with Girl Scouts but never backpacking.
    I can’t count the number of times people ask me “But who are you going with? Aren’t you scared to go (insert place) alone?” And while I too, have some travel partners on some trips, I’m perfectly happy traveling alone. To be honest, sometimes I prefer it! It’s my agenda, my timing, my interests…me me me. 🙂 I’ve just recently discovered HLAW and all the blogs/youtube channels etc associated with the community at large. I look forward to reading your entries and seeing your pictures!
    Again, thanks for being open and sharing your story.
    Margaret Stewart

    • Awe, thank you ☺️ I’m so glad you can relate! A multiple day hiking trip sounds pretty awesome. I’m inching to go! But it will be at least two weeks before I get free time.

    • You go girl! I will be 47 in september, no husband, no kids, and I live for my adventures. My best friend and I do at least one trip a year and the rest of my adventures i often do alone. It’s nice to find and explore all on your own sometimes, you don’t have to worry about accommodating someone else, you’re free to be you and do want you want. Enjoy your adventures

  43. I was looking for a lightweight tent, easy to setup, self standing and also one that could be setup under rain I took the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 to Scotland on a 7 days-hike and it performed really well.

  44. That definition of “dirtbag” is way different than the military definition. A dirtbag in the military is a soldier that is not reliable, always in trouble, and does not have his buddy’s back. The only similarity may be is that the military dirtbag has not conformed to the military lifestyle and expectations similar to the other definition where the person does not conform to the generally accepted middle class America lifestyle and expectations.

  45. Beautiful. Thank you. Coming to Arkansas for the 2024 Eclipse. Already have a lot of ideas. I’ll also be signing up for your newsletter.

  46. Do you know if there are any transportation options back to the start once you finish?
    We may try this in a few weeks. Thanks.

    • That is awesome! I hope you have a great hike. Let me know how you like it! Ouachita Rides and Guides provides shuttle services. You can call Jake at 501-620-9077, or Caleb at 501-617-2150.

  47. Regarding hiking with an infant: when my youngest was an infant, what you call Tula, was not to be found anywhere. I had made something similar for my middle child and learned. I took a light weight denim type fabric, made the bottom part closed with leg holes. Then left the back high enough to be supportive for baby’s back and head. It had a panel to support my back, straps on either side. I fastened them with D rings. It was especially good for shopping. I had a toddler in the buggy and my son strapped comfortably to my chest. That was more than forty years ago. Good to see someone is catching up to active mother’s.

  48. About how long did it take you to complete this trail? Would a 6 year old be able to do it? We would be backpacking overnight.

    • It took us between eight and 10 hours. It was definitely and all-day hike. Splitting it up into two day would be great. There are lots of goods places to camp in the valley. The Goat Trail and Big Bluff I don’t think I would advise for small children. The trail along the bluff is very high and narrow. Also around Hemmed-In Hollow it is really rocky and slick. We passed a woman who was hiking out and said she had just sprained her wrist. We also hiked it after a lot of rain and the steep parts of the trail were muddy and slick. So there are those to consider when hiking with a 6-year-old. I hiked west end of the Buffalo River Trail last year in that area, http://www.rightkindoflost.com/brt-boxley-valley-to-steel-creek/. I think it would be a lot easier for a 6-year-old. The part between Ponca and Steel Creek the trail got a little narrow along a bluff, but not like Big Bluff.

  49. I cannot believe that I am going to admit this on the internet… but, here goes.

    Two weekends ago, I went on my usual monthly solo trip and on a lark, decided to camp near an open ridge because I knew the sunrise would be brilliant (I was not disappointed). Now, usually, I take my very drab tarp and hammock setup well off the trail and make it a point to not be visible. This usually means I’m under fairly dark tree cover. Well, out on the ridge, I did not have tree cover and it was a cloudless night. Around midnight, I woke up startled because of the light. I could only see a sliver of it out of my tarp but, I was so convinced that someone was out there with a flashlight on low and for some reason my dog had not alerted me. After about 30 minutes of seeing this pale, blue light through the sliver of an opening in my tarp, I made myself get out. I stepped out to the most beautiful, bright, moonlight I have ever seen. The rock walls below me seemed to be glowing in the dark and the forest was illuminated like I have never seen. So many constellations were visible and I was in awe. I had lain there terrified that someone was stalking me when I could have been sitting on a log enjoying this night.

    I was a bit ashamed of myself. 10 years of solo trekking and the moon manages to cause me to flip.

  50. A few years ago we were camping with some friends along Sylamore Creek. In the dead middle of the night, either coyotes or SOMETHING ELSE, killed either a rabbit or SOMEONE ELSE. The death screams were the most horrible sounds I have ever heard even to this day. None of us slept much for the rest of the night. Bad thing was, I needed to pee. No way was I getting out of that tent by myself in the dark!

  51. Oooo…scary. I hike in the dark often and enjoy it. Coyotes will avoid you. The sound is great to hear at night so just enjoy it along with the owls and other night creatures. I have also heard death screams from animals being eaten…perty creepy but cool as well.

  52. I am for sure a slow and steady hiker. I like to pause, take pictures, and just listen to how quiet it is. I love staring out at the views I get when I’ve hiked up pretty high. I’ve been known to hang out at the top of a summit for like 30 minutes just taking it all in. I feel like I worked so hard to get up there and I want to enjoy it! But I definitely understand speed hiking too. In the winter I feel like every hike is a speed hike because I can’t slow down or stop for too long before I start to freeze!

  53. Thanks for the tips! I’ve never gotten crazy blisters from hiking, but I’ve definitely had pain on the bottoms of my feet that made me want to cry. I’m thinking about a 10 mile backpacking trip I did this summer in some shoes that were apparently not very supportive and comfortable. I was literally almost in tears in the last mile! Do you ever take epsom salt baths once you get home? That always makes me feel so good!

  54. It’s all about the layers!

    I see you’re also using a sit-in kayak. These are usually better in colder weather, as they can protect you from cold wind and of course, keep your drier.

    Nice write-up 🙂

  55. I hear you on the injury thing. I used to be a runner until I got injured. It’s been 2 years and I’m still not able to run. It did teach me to fall in love with new sports, like swimming and biking, and it gave me more time to hike. So I have to say that in the long run it actually helped me out! But it was so hard for a really long time. I still feel a bit heartbroken when I think about my old life as a runner and how much I miss going for a quick run. But just know that you will get through this and find a way to make it work. And not to agree with your friends, but swimming definitely does help even though it’s not outside!

    • That is true about an injury teaching you fall in love with another sport. I’m sorry you had to give up running though. I think I will take up swimming, because I need to move.

  56. It takes courage to admit loneliness. It makes you vulnerable. We all want to be seen as having it all together. And it is not comfortable. But looking back on my life, I find the loneliest times have also been times of great growth. Going out of our comfort zone to a lonely place is a challenge but the rewards can be great.

  57. I agree with this. I’ve only done one solo backpacking trip, and I wasn’t scared of bears or murderers – but I was definitely lonely. I kept thinking “My husband would love this!” or “This would be a great spot for a girls weekend”. I did read an entire book and learned how to build a fire, so I’m definitely calling it a win, but it’s hard to be alone out there! Thanks for posting this and making me feel like I’m not alone (pun not intended!).

  58. Love this! Winter hiking in Alaska is a bit different than this, but I agree that winter hiking is awesome. No mosquitos (they’re AWFUL up here), the bears are hibernating, and the mountains are gorgeous!

  59. I relate so hard to this – even though I am married and my husband and I frequently do activities together, we can’t do EVERYTHING together. I’ve had to go out and do things by myself and it’s tough. Like you, I yearn for solid relationships and people to share my experiences with, but those people are a little more rare. I hope that you find more people to share your good times with!

  60. I feel like you and me have so much in common! I also have an SI joint injury (I got it from running and can’t run anymore, but can still hike/bike/swim) and I also need a numbers goal to motivate me. I did the 52 Hike Challenge last year and finished early. It was so much fun! I’m definitely tempted to try this challenge too because I’d love to count all my biking miles. Good job on getting to 300 miles, that’s a lot!

    • Thank you! I thought the same about you when I read Mountain Maven! That’s stinks you have an SI joint injury. I am learning they are no fun! I’m thinking of doing the 52 Hike Challenge too. It’s looks like a lot of fun too.

  61. I loved this! It is so true! I have met the same reactions when starting my blog. I also love your verse in ‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬, to build each other up. So true, but sadly so rarely happens in our society today.

  62. My luxury on multi day treks is my “wineypus” – a platypus of nice wine to have with dinner!

    And an inflatable pillow – I sleep so much better these days. Everything else is ultralight, but I need my luxuries.

  63. After hiking from Centerpoint trailhead to Compton trailhead, would you recommend doing the hike in reverse or recommend with the way you went?

  64. I had to chuckle while reading this because my friend and I had a conversation about this while backpacking the Boardstand Trail in eastern Oklahoma a couple weeks ago. About how while we’re out there, we’re thinking of the end, yet as soon as we’re done, missing it and planning the next trip. Glad to know this is “normal” and we’re not just weird. 🙂

  65. So, a few of my college friends are wanting to hike this trail over the weekend. We have a three hour drive Friday. We are planning to walk 10 miles on Saturday camp and then walk back and drive back on Sunday. None of us are experienced hikers. What are your thoughts? Please get back to me if you can.

  66. I agree with your sentiment that not sharing locations is elitist. I’ve never understood people who want to keep places just to them. And as an introverted loner believe me I would much rather be by myself outdoors. Getting outside should be for everyone, and as you say it is our responsibility as outdoor bloggers, photographers, and lovers to educate rather than prevent.

  67. I hiked 4 miles today.. I found it by accident. I didn’t even know it existed.. loading my gear up and going to start at Crystal springs area. Then hike to Brady mountain.. it is an awesome trail. From what it seen.. definitely have a new hobby.

  68. I’m really excited for you that you’re trying something new and going out of your comfort zone. When you get flustered, take a few deep breaths to recenter yourself, and then continue on your task. (I should really use that advice myself a lot. 😀). You got this. They would not have hired you if they did not believe in you.
    I really love this post. I think it speaks to a lot of people.

  69. love it! Stepping out of your comfort zone is probably the best thing for personal growth in my opinion. Props to you and hope you crush it….loving the blog 🙂

  70. This can be so true for some of us. My soul mate best friend and I met in the 10th grade and 32 years later we take a yearly trip together and have had tons of adventures. Ranging from white water rafting in WV to hiking and going to a dude ranch in Wyoming to hiking Volcanos park Big Island Hawaii.We have pics quite similar to yours. It’s not always our husband who is our best travel buddy soul mate, some times it’s our best friend . I. love your site and I’m glad i found it.

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