HWY A to Brushy Creek 8/31-9/2

Post a narrative about your trip on the Ozark Trail

HWY A to Brushy Creek 8/31-9/2

Postby Lace 'em up » Tue Sep 08, 2015 3:27 pm

The weather the week before our departure gave me high hopes of a cool walk in the Ozarks...Alas it was not to be.

This was my first time hiking the Middle Fork/southern Trace Creek sections of trail. Apart from the information provided on the OT maps I didn't have a lot of Beta to go off. It was also my first time hiking with one of my newer friends. Adding an unknown variable like a new friend can always be interesting.

After being shuttled to the HWY A trail head by the nice folks at Brushy Creek Lodge we took the (apparently) obligatory selfie and started out. There is a downed tree across the trail right at the Ottery creek crossing along with a few smaller trees down a mile or so up trail from there. Apart from a few downed trees the trail from HWY A to the Middle Fork junction was unremarkable aside from the proliferation of spider webs. My hiking pace was severely effected by the constant pulling of spider webs out of my face and flicking of spiders off my hat.

We cooled our feet off at the Black river crossing just north of the Middle Fork/Trace Creek junction. There were a few small pools deep enough to cool off in so we took a good break there. By this time my friend was beginning to wilt in the Ozark heat and humidity.

Once back on the trail after the Junction by buddy's will to hike gave out so I started looking for a water source and camping spot. I finally found a little run off pool before the first Middle Fork crossing and filled my filter bags, strapped the 8 liters of water to my pack and struck out to find us somewhere to lay our weary heads. We got lucky as I spotted a suitable clearing off trail about a quarter of a mile from the water source so we pulled in for the night. We recharged over a one pot meal of tuna,pasta and olive oil and settled down for the evening. I decided to try a no tent night, a first for my friend. The waning gibbous was beautiful when she came up later that night!

As we sat there playing cards to pass the time my buddy said he was missing his bed and wanted to see if we could make the remaining mileage the next day. I was inwardly doubtful, but said we could get up early and give it a go. Early, it seems, is a relative term as we didn't get on trail until twenty to 8 that morning. With a big mileage day I wanted to get as much trail behind us as possible before the heat and humidity caught up with us. My plan worked aces until the hills started. My companions lack of physical training and over packing started to catch up with him and subsequently slow our pace. In an effort to help I took all his food (he was carrying enough snacks for a Boy Scout troop!), but we'd still need to stop at the top of every climb for him to catch his breath and grab a snack.

We found a few downed trees here and there, thankfully the spider webs weren't as plentiful or I just got better at not caring. There is also evidence of a hastily departed campsite at the top of a bald around mile 6. There was a significant amount of 'trace' left around. We gathered as much as we could and set it on the trail. Sadly my pack was already full and my buddy spend and we weren't able to pack out their trash.

Wolf Pen Hollow is lovely, it seemed to pop up out of no where and Henderson creek was a treat for our feet as well. By this time my friends feet were showing signs of serious wear and tear, our pace continued to slow and my hopes of getting us to Brushy Creek dwindled. I managed to cheer lead him and feather the pace to Strother creek about 8:00 that night. With dusk settling in and the prospects of another healthy climb ahead of us, my buddy gave up. With the warnings provided about Strother creek and no viable camp sites close I made the decision to set up a dry camp right on the trail (sorry!). My friend was out almost as soon as I had the tent up. I was kept awake by the bear huffing and snorting at us and batting our food bag around. I'm man enough to say I was SCARED and pious enough to admit doing some hard core praying that bear wouldn't want to see what the found smelling things in the yellow tent tasted like. Mercifully God gave the bear other ideas and I finally got some sleep around 2am.

We did get an early start our final day on the trail, I think finding the food back 20 foot from where I left it motivated us to get an early start. With only 5 or 6 miles to go, I was hoping for another good morning out of the gate, my friends feet had other plans. I kept setting a healthy pace only to turn around and be missing one companion. So I slowed down...With the blister driven pace, I made the decision to cut off the trail where it crosses Oates road and walk back to Brushy on HWY J rather than continue to punish my friends feet (and ego) on the trail. We started making better time on the road and set foot on Brushy's property around 9:00am that morning.

I also found a mountain lion print in the dirt along the trail. It was older, but still there. Additionally, we found an older woman and her daughter loading rocks at the creek just south of Barton's fen. She was kind enough to go in to great detail about the dangers of copperheads in the area. This was a big help since my friend is deathly afraid of snakes.

Overall the trail is in good condition. There are a few downed trees between HWY A and the DD crossing. There is one section with a very large oak and several other smaller trees blown across the trail between Little creek and Strother that needs to be addressed. Other than that, there is just the normal growth you'd expect in late summer. I will say a few places could use a good controlled burn as the secondary growth off trail limits visibility to a few feet at best. I kept calling out to let any neighboring bruins know we were sharing their woods through those parts.

As this was one of the first times I've taken a newbie hiking I have a few observations: Always make sure of your hiking partners physical fitness. Always make darn sure of their previous hiking experience and plan your itinerary accordingly (he wanted to spend a week in Rocky Mountain!). Always bring trekking poles, they are amazing. Always make sure you check your partners pack weight and supplies BEFORE getting on the trail. Always bring the right socks and shoes. Always keep a positive attitude. Never be afraid to change plans or slow down, let the slowest hiker dictate your pace. Always leave no trace. Always keep some conversation starters available to make the miles go by faster.
Lace 'em up
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Re: HWY A to Brushy Creek 8/31-9/2

Postby Homespun » Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:51 am

Pickaninny comment but the river just North of the Middle Creek, Trace creek junction is the Big River which flows north, the Black River is somewhere south and flows south.
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Re: HWY A to Brushy Creek 8/31-9/2

Postby Jim » Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:56 am

Black is south of Hwy 32. Big is on the North side. nice campsite on the trail eastside just south of the Big River.
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Re: HWY A to Brushy Creek 8/31-9/2

Postby Lace 'em up » Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:57 pm

That's what happens when I write it up without looking at the map.
Lace 'em up
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