If your bark is powdered, then straight to base is absolutely the easiest way to go. Always practice proper safety and common sense . You will have to base with lye either way.
This was done on 400g of powdered acrb using the lazyman tek in a 2000ml Pyrex bottle, right at the 2% yield mark. Only difference is I didn't have to wait around for the bark to break down, nor did I have to cook stinky acidic solution in my kitchen several times.
If your bark is shredded, or chunky, then go ahead and do an a/b.