The Ups and Downs of the Trail – Preparing for Hike to Help 2019

This past weekend, Caleb and I hiked 27.2 miles on the Ouachita Trail. We have been section hiking the 223 mile “OT” for the last two years and on this hike we crossed the half way mark as we have completed 121.7 miles! This past section from Big Brushy Recreation Area to Highway 27 was probably the most beautiful portion of the trail we have seen yet. It truly had it all! There were steep climbs, nearly straight down descents, switch backs, lots of “up downing,” several water crossings, breath-taking views out over the horizon, five deer sightings, and there was even a cave!

We did three days and two nights on the trail (11.1 miles on each of the first two days and 5 miles the last day). 27.2 miles gives you a lot of time to talk and think. As we were hiking, I was reflecting on how I have always gone first on the trail. We didn’t really talk about this, it just kind of happened. I tend to be a details person in life and I normally plan out the hikes, looking to Caleb for his input and perspective. I guess this translates to me taking the lead on the trail. As we were hiking on Sunday, I realized I have to find a balance between looking down at the trail and looking up for the next blue blaze (blue blazes are painted markings on the trees that mark the Ouachita Trail).

Here is the thing though, sometimes I get so caught up in the terrain of the trail and the next blue blaze that I miss the beauty of the trail. There are beautiful moments when Caleb will tell me to hold up and to look out to the horizon or call my attention to something I have missed. I realized that on the trail, you need a three-fold vision; down, up, and out. It’s kind of like when you are driving a car and you are learning to balance looking straight head, checking your mirrors, and watching your blind spots.

I am grateful for Caleb’s companionship and friendship on the trail and in life. I am also grateful for how he helps me see the trail, and life, differently. Caleb and I each play a role on the trail, offer a unique perspective, bring our own gifts, and this helps us maximize our experience on the trail together. So, whether you are going through the ups and downs of the trail or the ups and downs of life, don’t forget to also look out because you never know how three-fold vision will help you experience the trail and life in a new way as we look to help build a different kind of tomorrow.

Chad Mustain – Outdoor Adventurer

PS – Hike to Help is an annual hike along some portion of the Ouachita Trail in Arkansas/Oklahoma. This year the dates are  January 12-13, 2019. This is an opportunity to set a goal of strapping on a 40 pound back pack, hiking 5 miles a day, sleeping overnight in a tent, and yes doing your business in the woods!

I’d love to invite you to be a part of Hike to Help. It’s fun, it’s challenging, you will build some new friendships. This is a co-ed trip so everyone is welcome!

The cost is $200 which funds your entire trip, backpacking gear if you need, and most of all you will help fund the mentoring initiatives of Loving Community which helps boys and young men not only dream, but have the tools they need to achieve their life goals.

For more information contact Jim Mustain at To sign up for the hike follow this link:


Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>