The wind blew, and blew hard, most of the night. And the temperature dropped into the high 30s. Snuggled in a mummy sleeping bag wearing a hooded down puffy jacket kept me warm as toast, though I did not sleep well—the first night camping is always the most difficult in which to get a good night’s sleep.
The wind had abated considerably, and the fire pit beckoned a campfire. The wind last night blew down several small limbs and twigs, and the “pickins’ were easy”. Water was heated for the French press, and with coffee in hand, I sat by the campfire and contemplated world problems. By the time the first cup of coffee was drunk, most of the problems were solved.
Breakfast was comprised of reconstituted instant oatmeal and a skillet-toasted English muffin, washed down with a second cup of French press coffee.
After washing dishes and tidying up the “kitchen”, cycling clothes were put on and I began riding, with a goal of round-tripping to the Lake View trailhead and return, a total distance of 23 miles. It proved to be a good day for cycling. The first stop was at the Lick Creek trailhead at Mile 4.9.
After the Jan. 11, 1863, battle at Arkansas Post, Gen. Willis Gorman led troops from Helena on a raid up the White River. Col. Powell Clayton and 1,200 cavalrymen went to Big Creek west of Helena when a patrol of 25 men of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry was sent back with messages. On arriving at Lick Creek, they found the bridge burned. As they forded the creek, around 200 Confederate horsemen attacked the patrol. The Wisconsin men, armed only with pistols, shot five or six attackers, but were quickly overrun. Only 5 of the 25 men made it to Helena. (Source: Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission)
The tree canopy enclosing parts of the trail added to the already great aesthetics, and provided for a tranquil ride though two dogs gave chase at Mile 8.0 (6.0 miles into the ride).
The next stop was at Lake View, Mile 13.9.
The Lake View Resettlement Project Historic District encompasses a significant portion of a Depression-era agricultural resettlement project of the United States federal government in and around Lake View, Arkansas, in Phillips County. Covering nearly 4,400 acres on either side of Arkansas Highway 84 north of Old Town Lake, the area was developed in the 1930s by the Resettlement Administration as a rural community specifically developed for African-Americans. (Note: The Resettlement Administration was a US Federal agency created May 1, 1935, as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.) It relocated struggling urban and rural families to communities planned by the federal government. Roads and houses were built through the area, and a successful farming community eventually arose. The original settlement name was “Turkey Scratch” from the 1850s to the official declaration of the town’s namesake in the 1920s. When the town was re-established in 1937, Lake View became one of three communities in Arkansas to be reserved for black farm families by the Resettlement Administration. It is one of the few communities in the U.S. with an African-American percentage at over 90 percent of the populations.
With only 6.7 miles remaining, I decided to complete this entire portion of the trail today, forgetting that I had to pedal all the way back to camp. It was a fairly easy pedal to Elaine, the trail terminus. A hole-in-the-wall cafe was on the opposite side of the street, and I ordered and ate a fantastic jumbo cheeseburger, fries, and diet Coke.
With a full belly, I began the long ride back to camp. The prevailing winds had increased in velocity to about 15 mph, and were directly in my face. And, much of this part of the trail is void of any trailside vegetation to serve as a windbreak; and with cleared agricultural land as far as one could see giving the wind an unobstructed path, it made for very difficult paddling—my average speed dropped about 35 percent. Finally, back at the Lake View trailhead, some tree canopy served to diffuse the wind to make pedaling a bit easier. And yes, the dogs again took chase again at Mile 8.0. After arriving back in camp, I was too tired to do much of anything. A pot of hot tea and a camp chair served as a resting place until bedtime.