Friday, March 19, 2010

5 year Recap

It has been five years since this group of friends began hiking again and I thought it was time to post a collective of group photos from the trips. Aside from the 9 regular attenders, we have had 17 other people join the group for only one trip. For some, this was their first backcountry experience, while others simply didn't have time to plan an outing. It has been amazing to see the packs get lighter and the mileage per outing longer...and the moonshine container has even gone from glass to collapable water bag. I think next up will be the entire Courtois Section in two days...anybody in? Here they are:

Trace Creek-26 miles-2005

Middle Fork-22 miles-2006

Blair Creek-20 miles-2007

Karkaghne Section-28 miles-2008

Council Bluff to Bell Mountain-20 miles-2009

River to River Trail, Illinois-42 miles-2009

Current River-30 miles-2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Current River Section OT

On the morning of March 6, 2010, a group of nine hikers set off to see the entire length of the Current River Section of the Ozark Trail in two days. We had one guest hiker in tow, John Voigts, author of the River to River Trail guidebook. The remaining group members were: Jeff Moore, David Tudor, Craig Smith, Paul Caudell, Todd Whaley, Isaac Noland, Josh Heater, & Jeremy Dean. We set off under perfect blue skies with the temperature in the upper 30’s. We traveled through the tunnel under highway 60 and entered the woodlands to find a very well marked trail. We traveled through the morning, stopping occasionally to see the landscape features or to catch our breath. Some used the time to doctor the blisters that had already begun to form. This first day was quite consistent as far as scenery goes…trees, creeks, & rocky tread. We took lunch along a small creek next to the trail and took a short nap. As the day grew later we picked up the pace to summit Stegall Mountain by dusk, almost 18 miles from our starting point. We started up the mountain as the sun was starting to set. The view increased with every step and before we knew it we were looking at the summit cairn with an almost 360 degree view of the Ozarks. Photos snapped as we descended to a saddle on the east side to set up a well protected camp. The lightweight alcohol stoves boiled water and the fire exploded from the dry wood littering our camping spot. Our freeze dried concoctions devoured; we didn’t linger long around the fire before the group made their way to the warmth and comfort of the sleeping bags. We awoke on Sunday morning with overcast skies and short bursts of rain. Back on the trail, the sun came out and we cruised down to the Rocky Falls side trail where we dropped our packs. As we entered Rocky Falls, I discovered trail magic. One full ice cold Budweiser can floating in the creek…with a born on date of January 10, 2010. In no time the beer was gone and Paul, Josh, & Todd went for a swim while the rest of the crew climbed to the top of the falls…only to discover another beer! We soaked in the sun and water and made our way back to the packs and on to Klepzig Mill for lunch. We lounged on the Rhyolite, replenished our water, and continued on our way when we crossed paths with another group of hikers from the Division of Youth Services. It was fantastic to see those kids out on the trail on that beautiful day…but I felt sorry for them as they were loaded to the gills with equipment. I do not miss the days when my pack was that big and heavy. By mid afternoon we had made it to the Current River and cruised through the riparian corridor making our way to the highway 106 bridge, logging an astonishing 31 miles in 14 total hours of hiking. A special thanks to Terry McCallister who has adopted a portion of the Current River section and to the maintenance crew members, Robert, Gwen, Kathy, Jeff, and the few others who I don’t know your name, Thank You. This portion of trail is one of the best in my book. jm

Topo Maps

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Updated Gear List

This trip on the Current River Section will involve two new items. The first item, Gossamer Gear's Lightrek 3 Custom Trekking Poles, have been in my arsenal since Christmas and unfortunately have been slowly collecting dust. But they are out now and should be incredible based upon the reviews out there. Total weight was slightly more than advertised, but still registered at only 2.8 oz per pole. This 15 oz savings (Leki poles-21 oz) should be felt within the first few miles of the trail. The second item is one that is homemade...a Tyvek bivy sack. I have done my research when it comes to Tyvek products and did not want to invade my goose down bag with body moisture so I designed it more like a canoe, in that the moisture leaving my body can escape up thru the bag and into the atmospere. Since I will have my sil-nylon tarp above me there was no need to fully envelope my sleeping bag; more simply, I just needed the foot box and sides covered just in case rain decides to blow sideways. This reduced size alows the bivy to come in at a scant 6.45 oz. I will post pictures of this thing from the trip. My revised gear list is below...7.8 lbs base weight ain't to shabby. jm