View Full Version : Act of stupidity on Ouachita Trail in Arkansas

02-09-2005, 17:10
I almost hate to post this as it might make some think that Arkansas is full of backward idiots. As this is the ONLY incident of it's kind that I have heard of (ever), please take it as an isolated one.

The Ouachita Trail runs from eastern OK to central AR throught the length of the Ouachita National Forest. 223 miles total. There are a few (a dozen or less) AT-style shelters along part of the trail in Arkansas.

It seems that someone set fire to the Nancy Mtn. Shelter on the OT. This is the shelter furthest east, between Lake Sylvia and AR Hwy. 9. The shelter was TOTALLY destroyed. They even got the picnic table.

Here are pics before and after:

The volunteer organization formed to help maintain the OT (working in conjunction with the USFS and ONF), Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT), is looking for volunteers interested in helping with rebuilding the shelter. If you can help, please contact FoOT thru it's website: http://www.friendsot.org (http://www.friendsot.org/)



The Solemates
02-09-2005, 18:26
Wow. Thats unheard of. I was just in Ouachita NF this past weekend. I will be willing to help if my schedule allows. I wrote someone at the FoOT, but not sure if I contacted the correct person. Let me know when and where I can help.

Spirit Walker
02-09-2005, 18:32
That has happened several times on the AT. People get lazy, want a fire to get warm in the winter, and build it out of the picnic table in the middle of the shelter floor. There are a lot of folks who aren't too bright out there.

02-09-2005, 20:04
I can not commit at this time, but if can be to keep us posted as to when (dates) they plan on doing the reconstruction of the shelter, time permitting I might be able to help.

02-10-2005, 00:05
Thanks for the offer of help. I will try to relay info as I get it from FoOT.

You also might want to check out Yahoo! Group, ArkansasHiking. The buzz on this is pretty strong over there as that group is (obviously) very focused on Arkansas and our two long trails, Ouachita and Ozark Highlands. I'm sure any new info will be posted there and to the FoOT website.

Mike Sims
Little Rock

02-10-2005, 03:04
This coming Monday we're leaving for a trip to Texas mainly for paddling but will circle back to TN via Hot Springs National Park....is there any section of the OT in that vicinity? more importantly for me coming off of heel surgery, are there any sections near Hot Springs that are a LITTLE tamer than a typical AT section- I'm still on limited foot mobility (my doc said no mountaingoat trails referring to the AT)...but I would love to tast a bit of that trail.

02-10-2005, 10:28
Hi Medicine Man,

Glad to hear you'll be coming thru Arkansas. :welcome
The OT does pass fairly close to Hot Springs.

As this may start to drift off-topic, email me privately if you want and I can give you more info or direct you to it. I will send you my email address via WhiteBlaze private message.


Mike Sims

02-10-2005, 15:08
I exhanged email with people from the FoOT group. They have a work weekend on 3/12. I plan to go up. The session they are having on 2/26 is just for people who have not done trail maintenance before.

02-10-2005, 15:18
Please understand that this work weekend is almost surely NOT going to have anything to do with the burned shelter. There is no way really for us to have the money and materials and transportation of materials all set-up by then.

I *DO* know that this work weekend is going to be on some of Section 9 (which the shelter that burned was on), so you might get to go over and see the location or whatever.

Mainly, this work party (on 12 Mar) will be on Section 10 where there was a major area of blowdowns not too long ago (tornado?) and some other projects need to be done, like tread repair, blazing, etc.

Please email our VP for Maintenance thru the website for more details, of course.

Thanks for checking it out - hope to see you there, JimSproul!

02-10-2005, 17:30
Yes, I understand the next few work weekends won't help with the shelter. They (the NFS) estimate a need for about $8,000 of materials and or time to get it back.

I figure every volunteer organization only has so much energy to spend on things. Planning, meetings, trail work all drain some of it. I hope i can give them a few hours of my "energy" to help replenish the supply. I am looking into working on one of the AT work crews this summer but they are a long way from Texas. I usually do at least one project for the CDTA. But heck, I can make it to Little Rock on less than a tank of gas!

02-11-2005, 05:27
Can't really agree w/ you keeper...I dont think it is a kind of idiotism or negligence.

I consider that in either case it is a crime or at least an Act of Vandalism.

02-11-2005, 09:28
I was in a shelter when an idiot with a Whisper Light spilled white has all over the shelter floor while priming. He went ahead and lit his stove anyway sending a fireball up the air. We put it out before the wood caught preventing any damage other than a little brown spot. Not too far of a cry from burning down the shelter.

02-11-2005, 12:39
wow,that was a nice shelter,thats a cryin shame,litter buggs and vandals piss me off:sun neo

02-14-2005, 18:37
Yogi and I grew up in AR. I've lived in 8 states since then. It does seem that Arkansas has more than its fair share of idiots. Thats why I don't live there anymore.

Big Guy
02-14-2005, 23:03
Saw the pictures. A real shame that an idiot would do this. Also appears the fire burned the area around the shelter. Hope it did not spread to far.

02-15-2005, 13:40
Before this turns into a bash on Arkansas (although I'm SURE that wasn't your intent, BooBoo) or it's denizens, I will try to steer this thread toward the efforts to rebuild the shelter. As I stated in my original post, this is the only incident like this I have EVER heard of here in Arkansas.

FoOT is working to find resources to get the shelter rebuilt. The FS is for the plan and are involved although they have no budget for this right now. The feeling is that it is doable and FoOT will make every effort to keep the momentum going and get this done.

12-09-2005, 12:53
I had almost forgotten that I posted this here...

Since this shelter burned, the Ouachita NF has received a "Centenary Grant" from the USFS. This grant was part of a grant program celebrating the 100th Anniv. of the Forest Service and was awarded to ONF for rebuilding this shelter and some other projects. This was in June.

The shelter materials were purchased and work started on November 28. Several of us volunteering from Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT) worked with USFS personnel to build the platform from treated lumber and we should complete the shelter when the treated logs are available soon.

Pictures of progress so far can be found on the FoOT website at:


Mike Sims
Friends of the Ouachita Trail

The Solemates
12-09-2005, 18:52
thanks for the update!

12-09-2005, 22:46
I didn't mean to bash AR. I did go visit my hometown back in Oct. Some parts of AR are beautiful but like I said.......

12-09-2005, 23:27
boo ...if it's any comfort, i used to live there too, but luckily escaped after 45 days....hahahaha

12-10-2005, 13:52
There are no idiots in Kansas? Well, that's news to those of us downwind and downstream...

12-11-2005, 04:00
I was stuck in AR for 15 years. Yogi and I left AR in '99 exactly one year after starting our thru hike. I've been back twice.... I gotta get outta the midwest and get back to an area that isn't full of tweakers and rednecks.

12-11-2005, 04:05
There are no idiots in Kansas? Well, that's news to those of us downwind and downstream...

There's plenty of idiots here in KS.

Do you know why MO sucks? Because KS blows.

Actually Springfield and Columbia are pretty cool towns.....