A Recon Hike Along Section 4 – Jan. 8, 2016

Four Traildogs – Al, Mike, John, and Dan – met  Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, to set two posts for future directional signs where the LOViT crosses Hickory Nut Mountain Road, and then to hike Section 4 east to the trailhead for Section 5 at USFS Road 47A. The goal of the hike was “recon” – to evaluate the shape of the trail segment for any problems that need to be added to the winter maintenance schedule.

After placing the posts, the recon hike was mostly uneventful, which is a Good Thing!  We were able to move three fallen trees off the trail, two of which needed a little prodding from a small hand saw.  Also, we noted a couple of areas that are in need of water bars in order to deflect rainwater off the trail to prevent erosion. And, no recon hike is complete without carrying loppers and shears to clear potential “face slapper” branches, greenbrier, and other undesirable growth along the tread.

 A beautiful overlook from the LOViT just east of Hickory Nut Mountain Road.

A beautiful overlook from the LOViT just east of Hickory Nut Mountain Road.
(Click on this image to view more photos from the Jan. 8, 2016, recon hike.)

Overall, however, this section of the LOViT was found to be in very good shape, and we all very much enjoyed the hike along the creek that descends from Hickory Nut Mountain.  A stop at “The Grotto” was an added bonus, where we enjoyed a water break and some treats that Al had brought for the occasion.  The stretch of trail along this area is stunning.

More recon hikes are planned for January and February, along with some work days to attack areas that need more than casual maintenance.

New Directional Signs Along Section 5 – January 4, 2016

It is winter and time to hit the Trail for a number of maintenance projects that are never fun during the heat of summer, so today, five Traildogs met at the trailhead at USFS Road 47A to place a number of new directional signs along LOViT’s Section 5 from FS47A east to Pipe Spring.

This section of the LOViT both crisscrosses USFS 47, which runs between Hickory Nut Mountain Road to the west and Crystal Springs Road to the east, and also follows along USFS 47 at times before sinking back into the Ouachita National Forest.  It’s easy to miss a turn.

Mike makes sure the new sign is level as Robert prepares to secure it to the post. Al and Ron provide moral support. (34°32'28" N 93°22'42" W)<br />(Click on this image to view more photos from Jan. 4, 2016)

Mike makes sure the new sign is level as Robert prepares to secure it to the post. Al and Ron provide moral support. (34°32’28” N 93°22’42” W)
(Click on this image to view more photos from Jan. 4, 2016)

Overall, the day was beautiful, and, for the most part, the digging was not too difficult, although we did have to relocate a couple of times due to hitting a shelf of shale.  Once a hole was dug, a post was set in concrete, leveled, and then the signs were attached. The new signs were donated by the US Forest Service (thank you, Mitzi Cole).

Trail Maintenance by the Diamond Lakes Master Naturalists – Dec. 19, 2015

20151219_Spur_to_Spillway_Parking_Area-1A team of hardy Diamond Lakes Master Naturalist trail workers met at Spillway Landing recently to work on one segment of the LOVIT Trail.

The team restored 10 cross draining structures needed to eliminate erosion due to the scouring of the trail.

20151219_Spur_to_Spillway_Parking_Area-2The Master Naturalists adopted this 7 mile section of trail as part of their volunteer work in the Diamond Lakes area.

The group also worked on the finish grading of a new spur trail tying the LOVIT Trail into the Spillway parking area.  Those seeking an easy 2 mile hike should consider parking at this location and hiking down to the Avery Park trail terminus.

2015 LOViT Marathon Is In The Books …

The 2015 LOViT Marathon was run December 5, and by all accounts, it was a successful event.

Your LOViT Traildogs supported the event by working at aid stations at both the Joplin and Hickory Nut Mountain Trailheads.

Click on the image below to view photographs of the runners who made it to the top of Hickory Nut Mountain, the turnaround point for this out-and-back marathon.

Runners gather at the LOViT Marathon aid station atop Hickory Nut Mountain.

Runners gather at the LOViT Marathon aid station atop Hickory Nut Mountain.
(Click on this image to view photos from atop Hickory Nut Mountain during the LOViT Marathon)

Here are the race results:  http://runarkansas.com/results/LOViT2015.htm.  Also, a slide show with many more photos can be found here:  http://runarkansas.com/slideshow/LOViT26_2015/slideshow.php.  Finally, here’s the LOViT Marathon Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LOViTmarathon/.

What a great bunch of participants we enjoyed at this aid station.  Great people, great event!

2015 LOViT Marathon Scheduled for Dec. 5, 2015

The annual LOViT Marathon, a 26+ mile out-and-back course on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (“LOViT”), is scheduled for December 5, 2015.

Click for a larger .jpg version of the printed registration document. A .pdf should be available later.

Click this image to download a .pdf version of the printed registration document.

Registration and additional information for this Ultra Trail Series race can be found on the website of the Arkansas Ultra Running Association:  http://runarkansas.com/LoVitTrailMarathon.htm.

By registering for the race, it helps the race management and volunteers to put on a better and safer run for everyone, and it helps Phil and Bonnie Carr, who put on this annual event, when you register online via the above link, although registration is also accepted via “snail mail”.

You can keep abreast of current announcements and other race information through The LOViT Marathon Facebook page (and we hope you “Like” us there!).

A bit more information about previous LOViT Marathon events on the Trail can be found by entering “Marathon” in the search box on the right side of this page.

Enjoying the aid station at the Hickory Nut Mountain turnaround point for the 2014 LOViT Marathon.

Enjoying the aid station at the Hickory Nut Mountain turnaround point for the 2014 LOViT Marathon.

The LOViT Marathon is a terrific event for both serious and perhaps not-so-serious, but equally tenacious, trail runners.  We hope to see you on the LOViT December 5, 2015.

The start of the 2013 event was a little damp but was still a great event!

The start of the 2013 event was a little damp but was still a great event!

Bench Plaques for Jeff Smith and Tommy Sue Marsh – July 15, 2015

Traildogs Al Gathright and Jerry Shields hit the trail today to do some trimming and to install two plaques on sponsored benches.  We drove to the Brady Mountain Trailhead parking area for the 3/4 mile hike into the first bench, located on the banks of the small creek the Trail crosses.

To Jeff Smith, THANK YOU.

To Jeff Smith, THANK YOU.

This bench was purchased by the Traildogs to be sponsored for Jeff Smith of the Hot Springs Sentinel Record, who was tragically killed in a car accident. Jeff had followed the development of the LOViT from the first day of construction until his untimely death. He wrote hundreds of articles about the Trail’s development and was instrumental in bringing the Trail’s existence into the public eye.

A beautiful location for Jeff's bench.

A beautiful location for Jeff’s bench.

We installed a brass plaque in honor of Jeff’s support. The location is a beautiful, secluded location and has a very nice view of the creek and the small waterfall just upstream from the bench.

Hiking into Jeff’s Bench site, we trimmed the undergrowth and brush from the trail, but the short spur from the parking area to the trail, as well as the entrance to the trail from Brady road, are badly overgrown. We will schedule an early morning work day to open up these three trail entrances in the near future.

We then drove a mile north on Brady Mountain Road to the old forest road, and we then drove and trimmed the road to near the parking area just below where the old road intersects the trail.

Plaque for Tommy Sue Marsh, sponsored by her husband, Traildog Jay Marsh.

Plaque for Tommy Sue Marsh, sponsored by her husband, Traildog Jay Marsh.

We then hiked and trimmed about a mile up to the summit of Brady Mountain, where we have two benches installed at the base of the rocky spine near the Balanced Rock formation. We installed the plaque for Jay Marsh’s wife on one of the benches that Jay has sponsored for that location.

20150715_Trail_Maintenance_and_Plaques-4Hiking back to our vehicle, we found where some stupid fool had attempted to pull up trail mile marker Number 33 that was installed last year. We will have to pull up the bent rod and replace the rod and reinstall the maker.

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, and Tom, younger, yet equally as involved in the stories), the three brothers still met at the Gathrights to go to The Lake, even if it meant launching from the pier 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 from family and friends and all who love and miss them that bear their names, and the bench to Dorsey Howell given from the youngest of the brothers, Tom, who still comes to the Lake to fish, rest, and visit his older two brothers on this special place, are where the two older brothers have reunited 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 sit a spell.

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