Two New Bench Plaques on LOViT’s Elevated Walkway – July 8, 2015

On Wednesday, July 8, Traildogs Jerry Shields and Al Gathright placed two plaques on adjacent benches along LOViT’s elevated walkway, part of the Watchable Wildlife Trail Segment.

The two bench plaques were donated in honor of Diann Gathright’s dad and her uncle. The benches are side-by-side on the fishing pier part of the raised walkway. It is appropriate to have the brothers together near the lake they loved.  Here’s their story as told by Diann’s sister, Pam Howell:


The Boys of the Lake

by P.R. Howell

If people didn’t know better, they would have sworn they were twins.

They looked alike, talked alike, laughed alike, and possessed a kinship beyond being older and younger brother (one of two). They were friends.

Their friendship was fostered – as anyone who had the good fortune to hear their boyhood stories – through a series of adventures and misadventures while growing up in North Louisiana and South Texas, the kind that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn would find a competition for fun and mischief.

Traildog Jerry Shields placing the new LOViT plaque dedicated to Earnest Howell.

Traildog Jerry Shields placing the new LOViT plaque dedicated to Earnest Howell.

But what they had in common – love of God, of family, of country – was just the embroidery sewn on the fabric on this brotherhood/friendship. What really united them, what they talked about beyond their kids and grandkids, was The Lake and fishing, Fishing and the Lake.

Dorsey Howell lived most of his life in Arvada (Denver), Colorado, and Earnest Howell lived most of his life never ten minutes from a watering hole in Arkansas that could hold a boat, a man with a fishing pole, and the love of the sport, solitude when allowed , companionship when given. But where they loved to meet beyond any other place was Lake Ouachita, enjoy the hospitality of Al and Diann Gathright (elder daughter of Earnest) but, moreover, The Lake itself.

"Alpha" Traildog Jerry installing the plaque dedicated to Dorsey Howell on a bench adjacent to that dedicated to his brother, Earnest.

“Alpha” Traildog Jerry installing the plaque dedicated to Dorsey Howell on a bench adjacent to that dedicated to his brother, Earnest.

In younger years, they enjoyed “roughing it” in tents, on picnic tables, and fold-out chairs along the shores near Little Fir or Joplin, where they launched tents, boats, children to the water with Ivory soap, and heated cast iron pots for the daily or weekly catch, depending on the skill (or luck) of the lines and the rods and reels. Once older, and not as mobile (Earnest “handicapped” all of his life from an industrial accident in his late twenties, and Dorsey, slower moving, from a couple of knee replacements as a result of the daily hazards of his occupation), the two brothers still met at the Gathrights to go to The Lake – even if it meant launching from the pier of Shangri-La, rather than from the rocky shores of their favorite camping areas.

Even on the rare occasion they couldn’t even do that, they were still happy to meet at The Lake, send the others out to the day’s catch, launching them with the wisdom they had accumulated through the years about the art of fishing (“Just do it!”), and await their return for the rounds of tall tales, shared laughter, and a communion known only between fishermen but enjoyed by all.

Earnest passed away in August 2014 and Dorsey, who really never recovered from his grief, passed away in February 2015.

But on the memorial benches that bear their names from family and friends who love and miss them are the two men united in spirit, welcoming all to come out on the handicap ramp and deck built by The Traildogs to get as close to The Lake as they can.

And on some days, in the quiet of the evening, as dusk falls, those who knew them can hear their words and laughter, see their eyes sparkle, and feel the kinship of love of The Lake – and each other – Earnest and Dorsey will forever share.

Trail Maintenance on Little Bear and Bear Mountain – June 9, 2015

On a very hot Tuesday in June, Traildogs Al, Robert, and Dan took to the woods to clear any downed trees on Little Bear and Bear Mountains following the month of May’s severe storms and continuous rain.  What we found was a trail that was in reasonably good shape but that was quite overgrown with vegetation in areas where the canopy is thin.

20150609-DSCN2881

Traildogs Al and Robert taking a well-deserved break at Traildog Vista on Bear Mountain.
(Click on this image to view more photos from June 9, 2015.)

In all, there were only about 10 trees that needed to be cut off the trail.  However, there are areas where the briars are getting a good foothold and needed to be trimmed back.  We were fortunate to have with us a pair of Stihl weed eaters with scythe attachments that made short work of clearing weeds in several areas.

All in all, it was another great day to be on the Trail, despite the hard work and hot weather!

New Trail Maps – December 2014

We’re happy to announce that there is a set of new Trail maps available for download. You can find these links at the bottom of The Big Picture page. Files are in PDF format and include a single PDF document containing the LOViT East and LOViT West maps, along with a set of segment maps.

All maps are relatively high resolution and could be printed on up to 11″x17″ paper.

We know of a few changes we need to make, and there are a couple of benches missing from the segment maps, but if you find anything we should know about, please drop us an email or contact us through our Facebook page.

Have fun, and be safe on the Trail.

Trail Maintenance on Hickory Nut Mountain – Nov. 8, 2014

Saturday November 8th was a perfect fall day on Hickory Nut Mountain as six Traildogs met at the Trailhead for some trail maintenance. We had four certified sawyers, myself, Jay Marsh, Dan Watson, and Al Gathright, along with Chuck Dumas with his trusty weed trimmer, and Mike Curran with his historic one man four foot hand saw.

Traildogs Chuck and Jerry digging the hole for the post to mount the new USFS-provided trailhead sign.

Traildogs Chuck and Jerry digging the hole for the post to mount the new USFS-provided trailhead sign.
(Click this image to view more photos from Nov. 8, 2014)

Our first order of business was to install the new trailhead sign furnished by the US Forest Service. It took a bit of digging in the stone-infested ground, but we finally concreted in the 6 X 6 post and sign just to the left of the Trailhead map sign.

We also cleared all the downed trees and limb debris from the campground located adjacent to the Trailhead. There were two overnight campers in the campground, but the tents’ inhabitants were out taking advantage of the perfect fall weather to enjoy the Trail .

While we working, a group of mountain bikers from the Springdale area came through on their way to the Avery Trailhead some thirty miles east. We visited, and they shared that they had met a hunter in the valley between Hickory Nut Mountain and Broken Rock Mountain who had just harvested nice buck. He thanked the riders for flushing the buck, which came charging down the Trail about ten minutes ahead of the riders. It appears we can share the bounty of the Trail in harmony.

Traildogs Al and Jay tackle the first of several trees across the trail to the old Hickory Nut Mountain Fire Tower site.

Traildogs Al and Jay tackle the first of several trees across the trail to the old Hickory Nut Mountain Fire Tower site.
(Click to view more photos)

We then attacked the spur up to the old fire tower site. There were many down trees and much debris, along with a thick growth of weeds along this 800 foot spur. We were able to clear the Trial up to the site, but we lacked the proper equipment to completely clear the historic site itself.   We cleared around the foundation of the “watchers cabin” and around his old “stone food cooler” nearby, but we will need some new brush clearing equipment to complete the job. Another day!

As we returned from the tower site, we were engulfed in visitors to the Trailhead. A group of about twenty mountain bikers from the Tyler, Texas area, and also a separate group of site seeing folks, also from Texas who arrived in two vans, were all taking in the views of fall color from the peak.

As we were finishing work, two large groups were enjoying the trailhead, one a group of riders from around Tyler, Texas, and the other a group from Dallas who were staying at Mountain Harbor Resort.

As we were finishing work, two large groups were enjoying the trailhead, one a group of riders from around Tyler, Texas, and the other a group from Dallas who were staying at Mountain Harbor Resort.
(Click to view more photos)

Jerry

Scouts Build a New Bridge on the LOViT – Oct. 25, 2014

One perennial mud hole gone from the trail!

After celebrating with the Ouachita Mountain Hikers on Saturday, Oct. 25, I met members of the Boy Scout Troop 262 out of Little Rock at the Tompkins Bend Trailhead parking area. Six Scouts, their troop leader, and several parents joined in to assist Bryan Wornock complete his Eagle rank project of building a 12′ foot bridge about a 3/4 mile east of Shangri-La Road.

Traildog Jerry Shields with Bryan Wornock, Brett Gil, Shelby Johnson, Nicholas Muensier, Mathew Thomason, and Chris Beard. Not pictured: Kevin Roach, Seth Goad and Cody Ray.

Traildog Jerry Shields with Bryan Wornock, Brett Gil, Shelby Johnson, Nicholas Muensier, Mathew Thomason, and Chris Beard. Not pictured: Kevin Roach, Seth Goad and Cody Ray.

The team started to work around noon and finished at 5:00 pm, with the new bridge completed and ready for use. Bryan utilized the existing design of our other small bridges to construct the bridge over an area know to bikers and the “Slick Spot” where you can easily take a spill if not careful. Hikers refer to the spot as the “Mud Hole”!

The completed bridge, ready for traffic!

The completed bridge, ready for traffic!

We really appreciate the Scouts supporting the Trail! They exemplify the best of young people trying to give back to the community.

Jerry

Ouachita Mountain Hikers Rally and BBQ, Oct. 25, 2014

Saturday, October 25th, the Ouachita Mountain Hikers had a rally and BBQ at the Avery Recreation Area to celebrate the completion of their six-day hike of the entire Lake Ouachita Vista Trail system. Starting at the ADA Kiosk on Monday Oct 20th, various groups of OMH members hiked sections of the Trail. Eight of the members, including Traildog Chuck Dumas, received special recognition for hiking the entire forty miles of trail.  This was a team effort of the Ouachita Mountain Hikers organization, with some members hiking, some shuttling, and some organizing the Rally and BBQ.

USACE Ranger Mike Wade addressing the Ouachita Mountain Hikers at the Avery Recreation Area

USACE Ranger Mike Wade addressing the Ouachita Mountain Hikers at the Avery Recreation Area

The Ouachita Mountain Hikers invited the LOViT Traildogs to join in the hikes and to join them in their celebration rally and BBQ. Pam Harrison served as head chef and food organizer, and it was indeed a feast! Three of our Traildogs – myself, Robert Cavanaugh and Chuck Dumas – were present at the rally and BBQ. After the group of around fifty finished eating, Mike Wade, US Army Corps of Engineers Ranger, gave the group a presentation covering the recently completed emergency rescue plan he has developed for the Trail. Mike, as usual, did a great job of explaining this well-thought-out emergency plan.

Head Chef Pam Harrison dressed for Halloween

Head Chef Pam Harrison dressed for Halloween

After Mike’s presentation, special awards were presented by Cliff Harrison to the eight members who completed a hike of the entire Trail. Following these awards, Jim Gifford presented a special Certificate of Appreciation to the Traildogs for their efforts in creating this beautiful trail system.

It was a fun day, and we were humbled by the special thanks and recognition from the Ouachita Mountain Hikers.

To my knowledge this is the first organization to hike the entire trail in less than a week.

Many thanks to the Ouachita Mountain Hikers.

Jerry

Italian Writer Discovers the LOViT – October 22, 2014

Robert Cavanaugh and Zoie Clift

Robert Cavanaugh and Zoie Clift

Traildog Robert Cavanaugh had a great day Wednesday, Oct. 22. Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department asked Robert to lead her and two visitors from Italy on a mountain bike ride on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail.

Carlo is a magazine writer and is working on an article on Arkansas. He is a skier and a mountain biker. His friend, Giuliana, is a road biker. Zoie is a very good rider and is a great friend of the LOViT.

We spent the day riding the trail, taking pictures, and then finished it up with a great meal at Shangri-La Resort (and a piece of the best banana crème pie in the known universe). A great ride with some very nice people. Click on the image below to view pictures from their time on the LOViT.

Carlo and Giuliana with Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Department of Tourism and a great friend of the LOViT.

Carlo and Giuliana with Zoie Clift of the Arkansas Department of Tourism and a great friend of the LOViT.
(Click this image to view more photos of this event.)

Carlo has promised a copy of the article when it’s been published.  We’ll look forward to sharing that on our website.

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Planned For Oct. 28, 2014

Lake Ouachita Vista Trail

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to officially open the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) has been set for:

Date: Tuesday October 28, 1014

Time: 1:00 pm

Location: The Avery Recreation Area at the Lake Ouachita’s Blakely Mountain Dam in Garland County.

This forty-mile long trail system designed for mountain biking and hiking is the result of ten years of planning, design and construction by a coalition of a dozen local, state and federal organizations. The trail courses along the southern shores of Lake Ouachita over five mountains located in the Ouachita National Forest.

The agenda for the ceremony will include remarks by:

  • Colonel John W. Cross, Colonel US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Norman Wagner, Forest Supervisor Ouachita National Forest
  • Joe David Rice, Arkansas Tourism Director
  • Jeff Crow, Deputy Director, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
  • Steve Schneider, Regional Director, International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA)

Following the ribbon cutting, there will be a two-mile hike and bike event on the Blakely Mountain section of the trail. Shuttles will be provided.

 

 

Jeff Smith – LOViT Has Lost A Very Good Friend

Jeff Durand Smith:  A Great Friend of the LOViT

Jeff Smith: A Great Friend of the LOViT

A very good friend of the LOViT and of the Traildogs, Jeff Smith,  was tragically killed Friday afternoon, Oct. 10, in a head-on collision on Highway 7 north of the town of Bismarck, AR. Jeff Smith was editor of the Special Sections of the Hot Spring Sentinel-Record and has faithfully reported the story of the building of the Trail now for 10 years, writing a great many articles about our progress.

Jeff was a dedicated supporter of the Trail. He came to our first day of construction each year without fail, from year one to our last first day this year.

From the Hot Springs Sentinel_Record Facebook page:

“Jeff Durand Smith, a valued member of The Sentinel-Record family, was killed early Friday evening in a three-vehicle accident on Highway 7 south near Bismarck in Hot Spring County.

“Jeff, the special sections editor for The Sentinel-Record, was well known in the community for his reporting of veterans affairs in Hot Springs and Garland County, his extraordinarily detailed coverage of Hot Springs Village, and his weekly coverage of western Garland County and areas beyond.

“There are no words to express the feeling of sadness and loss we feel today at The Sentinel-Record. Jeff will be sorely missed, and our prayers are with his family. We will pass on funeral information as soon as it becomes available.

“– Mark Gregory, editor”

The Traildogs are starting a fund to sponsor a trail bench in Jeff’s honor. If you would like to contribute to his fund please make a check out to “Friends of Lake Ouachita”, and mail it to 3812 Hwy 270 E, Mount Ida, AR 71957. You can also donate through PayPal using the “Donate” button on this page. Once we have the bench plaque we will host a short memorial at the bench to install the plaque.

Thank you all for your support.

Jeff, we will miss you.

Jerry

A New Trailhead Sign At Joplin, and Clearing Trees on Bear Mountain – Oct. 15, 2014

Traildogs Jeremy, Dan, John, Jerry, Chuck, and Robert show off the new Joplin Trailhead sign.  Many thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for providing these signs.

Traildogs Jeremy, Dan, John, Jerry, Chuck, and Robert show off the new Joplin Trailhead sign. Many thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for providing these signs.

Oct. 15 was a beautiful fall day for completing some work on the Trail prior to the planned October 28 at 1:00 pm Dedication Ceremony.  We had six Traildog volunteers today – myself, Robert, Dan, Chuck, John, and Jeremy – all helping install the new Trailhead sign at the Joplin Trailhead parking area.  We also cleared brush and weeds around the parking area and also the section of the Trail heading east where we utilize the old road.

We also cleared the weeds from the Trail where it crosses Mountain Harbor Road. Finally, we checked out the ADA Trail for downed limbs and debris.

Lining up these tall 6x6 posts for the new trailhead sign IS rocket science, at least for these Traildogs!

Lining up these tall 6×6 posts for the new trailhead sign IS rocket science, at least for these Traildogs!

It was a good day to be out on the Trail, and it was nice to have Chris Ham and Tom Ledbetter from the USFS join us at the trailhead.

Robert sizing up the tree and planning his cuts. Not a bad view from here!

Robert sizing up the tree and planning his cuts. Not a bad view from here!
(Click on this image to view more photos from Oct. 14, 2014)

Yesterday, Oct. 14, Traildogs Robert and Dan covered Section 7 of the LOViT from Brady Mountain Road moving west across Bear Mountain to “Laura’s Bench” just below the switchbacks overlooking Crystal Springs. Many trees were down on the Trail from recent storms accompanied by high winds.

Robert and Dan reported that while they were sitting on the bench at Traildog Vista, taking a break from clearing downed trees from across the Trail, a mature Bald Eagle suddenly came swooping slowly by, right at eye level!  This was their reward for removing those 25 downed trees!

"Indian Pipe" growing on Bear Mountain alongside the Trail. The LOViT is a terrific Trail on which to enjoy many different plants (and often animals).

“Indian Pipe” growing on Bear Mountain alongside the Trail. The LOViT is a terrific Trail on which to enjoy many different plants (and often animals).
(Click on this image to view more photos from Oct. 14, 2014.)

We are canceling the planned weed removal day scheduled for next Saturday, October 18, as it will be a busy day for deer hunters in the area, and we don’t want to take any chances on any injuries and don’t want to spoil a hunt.

Thanks

Jerry