…men in nature…

Guys Trip. You don’t say no, especially when others are coordinating and spreadsheetin’ the entire thing. Originally, we were heading to the Natural State for 3 days of trout fishing and drinking, but my cousin wanted to tack on a couple of days for hiking and kayaking…and I’m always on board for that.

Jon.com, The Drifter, Margarita Matt, The Elder Statesman, and Big Brudder
Jon.com, The Drifter, Margarita Matt, The Elder Statesman, and Big Brudder
Here there be diamonds!
Here there be diamonds…supposedly.

On the drive northeast from Dallas, TX, we passed through Texarkana and on to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in hopes of procuring a carat or two of brown, yellow, or white diamonds. The rain and fields of mud made short work of our bling dreams, though my buddy Matt and I walked away with a couple of shiny rocks (quartz, agate, and jasper).

The winding roads through the Ouachita Mountains made for superior scenery to the optional path of I-75 north through Oklahoma. I can’t recommend enough the detours that take you away from our national interstate system – remember that old adage about the journey and the destination.
Recalibrating the navigational widgets
Recalibrating the navigational widgets
Speed is not always the best option especially when you need time to chew the fat with your buddies.
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We arrived at Lost Valley Canoe & Lodging in Ponca, AR near the Buffalo River just as the office was closing. Our cabin for the next two nights was incredible! With Mike cooking tasty meals, beer a plenty, a friendly cabin cat and dog, a pipe of tobacco, friends, and a hot tub, I was pretty content.
Dual-wielding over a sea of green
Dual-wielding over a sea of green

Arranging a hike for a group of people you don’t normally trek with is difficult. Everyone has different capabilities and desires. Some like to (and can) push hard and feel worn out after a hike. Others feel more comfortable meandering through the woods, soaking up the sights and sounds of nature. Any way you do it is right, but in a group, it’s all about expectations. Figure out who can do what and who wants to. 15 miles of technical terrain sounds amazing to me, but might be nightmarish to others. Knowing what obstacles you’ll be encountering is also choice.

DSC04648We were all surprised to cross a cold, swift river twice (I opted to ask some local kids enjoying Senior Skip Day to ferry a few of us across in a canoe on the second crossing!). I won’t try to describe the waterfall halfway through the hike. Just look at the photos and understand that we were all blown away by the spectacle.
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And might I also recommend bringing a knife – if for no other reason, you never know what you can whittle during breaks.
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“2 rules of MY cabin: Pet me and no owls.”

The next morning, Matt told us the cabin cat had caught an owl. Sure enough, we walked out on the deck and the owl managed to use our distraction to escape its fate as a feline feast! We packed up and got sorted for a 4-hour kayaking adventure over mild rapids and along gorgeous bluffs.

Pro Tip: LifeStraw Go on a river = infinite hydration
Pro Tip: LifeStraw Go on a river = infinite hydration

This is the stuff you can probably look at on Google Earth, but can’t understand until you get out there and experience it. A few tip-overs, a couple of beers, a broken phone, and a 20′ (or 30’…it was 50′ if it was 1!) cliff jump into frigid water later, we made it to the end of the route and on our way to Copper John’s Resort on the White River.

Butterflies
"Órale, mate!"
“Órale, mate!”
The big boy
The big boy

By the time we arrived, the drinking had already begun. The dam ran almost the entire time we were there so the river was up to cabins rather than 30′ out from us. No one seemed to have much luck with fishing until the final day when all the caught trout were smoked and devoured. Oatmeal pies were consumed in bulk along with cheap domestic beer. Stories were told, books were read, hornets were chased away with improvised flamethrowers, paint cans were filled with vodka…what you’d expect from a guys trip.

Other than a car battery replacement, the highway drive home was fairly straightforward and uneventful. The music was good, the discussions were deep, and everyone was ready to be home.
Light to Dark
No clue how I took these two identical pictures at different times
No clue how I took these two identical pictures at different times. #AccidentalAwesomeness
So, how does this compare to some of your trips? Too tame? Any advice on better places to take a group for an outdoor adventure?
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One Comment

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  1. I forgot to send you the video of you jumping of the 3ft cliff. Great post.

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