Recent four section hike

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Recent four section hike

Postby mjstrube » Sat Jan 16, 2016 3:45 pm

Between December 30th and January 8th I had the opportunity to hike from the Highway P trailhead to Onondaga Cave State Park (traversing the Karkaghne, Middle Fork/John Roth Memorial, part of Trace Creek, and Courtois sections). My daughter joined for the first half or so (departing at Council Bluff Lake) and then I soloed the rest of it. The weather was beautiful. Cold a few nights, but daytime temps were fine and I only had an hour or so of rainfall during the whole trip. As might be expected given the time of year, I had the trail pretty much to myself. I encountered a mountain biker south of Council Bluff Lake and a southbound hiker north of Council Bluff Lake. Given the massive rain amounts we had the previous week, I was a bit nervous about stream crossings, but they ended up being manageable. The most difficult was actually nearly at the end. Courtois Creek in the Huzzah Conservation Area was wide, up to my knees, and moving pretty swiftly. Hard to imagine what that must have been like at the height of the rain. It was staggering to be walking along the creek in Huzzah CA and seeing water-born debris in the trees a good 6 feet above my head. Hazel Creek likewise showed the storm's wrath, with quite a bit of debris piled high at the crossing. Without that south-bound hiker's footprints I would have had a tougher time finding the trail once I crossed.

I was really struck by the trail conditions--it was easy to follow, well-marked, and generally without damage or obstacles. It was a vivid reminder of how much work goes into this terrific resource. I volunteered for a mega-event a few years back and so have some understanding of the labor that goes into maintaining even a small piece of trail. To think of the combined efforts that have produced what we have so far is just mind-blowing.

As for wildlife, I saw and heard what you might expect--deer, owls, hawks, etc. One treat was a group of four bluebirds that flitted ahead of me on the trail one afternoon. Another was the group of 20 or so turkeys that I spooked in Huzzah CA. The combined sight and sound of them exploding into the air was breathtaking. The oddest event though was New Year's Day, at midnight. We had long since settled into our tents and gone to sleep when the new year came in, but several shotgun blasts and the unmistakable sound of automatic weapons fire from the ridge above our camp reminded us that Missouri is home to all kinds of interesting culture.

All in all, a great experience. I'm looking forward to tackling other sections in the years to come.

Mike
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Re: Recent four section hike

Postby mike » Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:46 am

Sounds like you had a great hike. Nothing like jumping up a bunch of turkeys to get the ole heart rate up! Have yet to get on the Courtois section of the trail but have covered everything south of there. Like you I'm appreciative of all the work that goes into this trail and thankful we have it. Thanks for sharing.

Another Mike
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Re: Recent four section hike

Postby mrz » Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:02 pm

I passed a north bound hiker late one night setting up his camp. I was wondering if it was you. he said he had put in at P and had been on the trail for six days( about 60 miles in). If it was you I am glad you made it safe. I put in on the 1st for my winter through hike of the OT, completed on the 17th with three 0's. I had hope to go on to the OHT after I completed the OT but opted to spent the remaining time with with my oldest daughter.
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Re: Recent four section hike

Postby mjstrube » Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:11 pm

Yes, that was me. Glad to hear you also had a safe trip. Good luck on the PCT!
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Re: Recent four section hike

Postby mjstrube » Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:43 pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention in my original post that the maps available on the OTA site were invaluable, especially the details about water sources and stream crossings. Only problem I have regarding the maps is with the border markings. The UTM coordinate system is used (great idea), but the spacing between marks is in miles rather than kilometers. Makes for a trickier than necessary set of mental calculations to find an intermediate location using a GPS. Metric all the way would be better, in my opinion.
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Re: Recent four section hike

Postby mrz » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:26 pm

I agree with the last statement. I used maps, the guyed book and my handheld GPS unit with the OT trail on it. I alls took the time to put in all the corinets the were in the guyed book. It help when the trail got a little thin.
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