Heading for the Hills

Here's a sign that ensures you keep moving...


The patch of sunshine, I'd been able to take that photo in was quite short-lived and once more the heavens opened.Thelma and I were getting so very wet and the visibility through the spray was so poor that I decided to stop at this picnic area for shelter - in a weird way, the rain was welcome as it had been blisteringly hot just days ago. And on the plus side, look how clean Thelma is after all the gallons of water have landed on her. I wear a Rukka jacket and all the way through these downpours I was completely dry under it.

We were heading up to Arkansas and some hill country. First I had to cross part of Alabama, and I swear that they have people with the strongest accents manning the welcome centres. I had stopped to get a state map, but at first couldn't understand the woman behind the counter. I asked her to repeat what she said and she just looked at me as if I was an alien, obviously finding my Brit accent a bit much to handle. We managed to communicate, I got my map and continued on my way, stopping at some great small town petrol stations for snacks to eat and a chat with staff to avoid more rain.

Luckily it had stopped raining when I needed to stop for the night, I'd reached Delhi in northern Louisiana, followed an old track and found a spot flat enough for the tent.

The mosquitoes had been bad as I put the tent up and I soon found out why in the morning, as this was behind the row of trees

The swamps gave way to corn fields

We'd arrived in Arkansas, and these little creatures were everywhere

Dead armadilloes, scattered along the roadside like discarded bowling balls, or maybe they were just sunbathing

I finally reached the Ozarks, and what pretty hills they are, I needed to gain points for the GS Giant Adventure Summit and so took a forest route, my first serious off-roading for a while. I didn't have a very good map, but the nice man at the welcome centre had made a few suggestions and pointed me in the direction of some horse trails that were suitable for motorised vehicles. What a mistake that was, in England we have bridleways for people on horses and they tend to be leisurely tracks across fields. They are sometimes shared with other track users as well, after I entered the forest, I realised this was a very different situation.

I checked the signs as I headed along this trail

I had no idea that there were bears this far south. I decided to keep moving

Easier said than done

The route ahead had some steps in it with a drop off at the bottom, I needed to try and haul rocks to make the drop off easier to negotiate. But Thelma was on a slope and I couldn't put the side stand down, hence I had to do this

I got through that bit, and the the upward slope on the other side was worse