April 7, 2016
For #tbt I am taking it back to the mountain that got us the first time. Forked Mountain, you devil. Technically, Forked Mountain is in the Ouachitas, but it’s a great story so I have to tell y’all all about it. Most of the places we visit are on rugged logging roads and sometimes are impassable. The first time dad and I attempted it we drove Forked Mountain Road as far up as we could. We parked when the road turned into a 4WD only path which still left a quite a way to trek up. We followed the directions in the book to keep left and made our way up a faint trail. We realized quickly that we went the wrong way when we ended up on the back side of left peak. Pops and I decided to make our way back down before sunset since we spent too much time at Forked Mountain Falls. We were disappointed and vowed to make it to the top one day.
In February, one month after the original trip, we wanted to tackle it again. We went back up the 4WD road and stopped a little shy of the last trip. Dad and I hiked our way up the hillside, but instead of veering left, once we cleared the tree line we hiked up to the right and headed for the boulder field. We could see the easiest way up was in the crack between the two peaks. Dad is apparently used to climbing up mountainsides and hopped his way up like a billy goat the entire time waiting on me. I seemed to choose every loose boulder which only made my journey up slower. My legs shook and every so many feet I had to stop and sit down. Did I mention I’m deathly afraid of heights if I don’t have a restraint? I kept screaming to pops “I value my life!”. These pitstops did make for some great views and pictures.
Once we reached the top of the crack we made our way to the backside of the mountain where a trail wrapped around to the top of the tallest peak. I was never so happy to see solid ground. I had to take several minutes to sit down and enjoy the view. I earned it.
Dad and I took a different trail to the bottom instead of me shaking down the boulder field. We made it back to the vehicle and headed to Winona Scenic Drive. From the lookout points we could see Forked Mountain perfectly with Mt. Nebo huddled in the background. After driving the 15 mile roundtrip on the dirt road we found our way back to Hwy 7 S. Once we hit pavement we knew exactly why it was such a rough ride out of the scenic road. Flat tire. With no cell phone reception. In the middle of nowhere. Dad jacked up the vehicle and soon realized he did not have a tire iron. I walked back up the hill on the dirt road searching for service. After failed attempts to call a tow truck we flagged down a pick up heading towards Hot Springs. Two good ol’ boys stopped and happen to have the proper tools. Within 15 minutes we were back on the road heading towards the sunset. That trip costed Dad a new tire as well as a tire iron.