Trace Creek and Taum Sauk Section Hike

Post a narrative about your trip on the Ozark Trail

Trace Creek and Taum Sauk Section Hike

Postby JJN » Thu May 12, 2016 11:11 pm

My 20 year old son and I just finished a 5 day 62 mile trip, completing the full Trace Creek and Taum Sauk sections on May 6th. He had just finished college exams and needed some fresh air before starting his summer job. So, we loaded the packs and off we went. We have never been on the Ozark Trail before, so this was a new experience, though I would rate us as "Intermediate" for backpacking expertise. I've read through the forums and just thought I'd give our newcomer's report, hoping it may provide insight for someone else's trip.

We asked for "Strenuous" and I would say we got "Strenuous". Reading the website cannot really give you the feel for the terrain. Several entries on this website do warn that "this section is some of the rockiest you will find", and now we know what that means. It means a lot of the trail is over rocks--not just 10 or 20 yards of a few rocks, but maybe 70% of some portions of these sections of the trail are super rocky. Rocky meaning, what I, a non-geologist, would call rock slides--as in, a river of small to large boulders. (We kept expecting a sign next to the trail saying something like "Sponsored by Missouri Orthopedics--We Fix Ankles"!) Reaching the park with 50+ miles in already, we were not at all surprised when the trail sent us straight up the rocks directly next to the waterfall (Mina Sauk Falls??)! So, if you are a novice backpacker, I would strongly advise you to try a different section. If, however, you are are looking for "Strenuous", try this route. Just be aware that you may not cover the ground as quickly as you might normally, because it is very rough terrain. The wet river crossings--new for us--will also slow you down. The nature of the trail didn't at all stop or frustrate us, it just meant that we didn't get to camp early enough to enjoy a couple of hours with a good book each afternoon.

To the OTA's credit, I will say we did NOT get lost, even once, over the entire 62 miles! Each time I would say to myself "Hmmm, where does the trail go now??" I would keep hiking onward, looking up, and sure enough, every single time I found a OTA sign. So I will say the trail, tough as it was, was VERY well marked. Excellent job OTA!

Ticks--yes. We saw them, especially in the middle of our week. But we ourselves got none--despite wearing shorts and finding them in our tent! And they don't freak us out--it is the forest, after all!

We met a total of 6 hikers in the 5 days. So, if you're looking to "get away from it all" this works! We did enjoy the time together and both felt as though we were able to reboot our hard drives.

And while the "wow" views were not plentiful, they were there. Couple of the rivers and the scours were notable, though the "high point" of Missouri was not.

Last, but not least, a word about the animals. We are both experienced outdoors people. Once out of the woods we tallied a long list of the insects and wildlife we saw. Wild turkeys, ticks, all of that I am fine with. However, there were two events I could have done without. Like many women, I don't do snakes. On the third day of our trip I met what we later identified as a hog nose snake. A much earlier forum entry here called that a "cool" encounter. I, do not! I have erased that experience from my memory, though while I stood petrified, my son took pictures. So I have evidence of the encounter.

And then the excitement of the trip. 60.5 miles into the 62 mile hike. That's one and a half miles from the car--we were almost done! I almost made it through the entire week with my only fright being a couple of snakes. Actually it was about a half mile earlier, each hiking alone, that we each caught a glimpse of these dark black animals, but they ran away quickly. In our part of the Midwest, that means bears. But no, they were not bears. And if you look at that section of the forest, just off of the Hwy 21 trail head, you can see the wild hogs have totally turned up the forest floor with their rooting. But, that's hindsight--I didn't identify that was what had ripped up the moss along the trail. At 60.5 miles, we just stood in the forest, about 30 yards from two of the largest, ugliest wild hogs I could ever imagine. (OK--we don't have these in the city! I am an accountant, not a farmer or hunter! I have NEVER imagined any encounter with wild hogs!) Time stopped--as did my heart! You know that children's song "I saw a Bear?" There's a line "He sized up me, I sized up him." That's exactly what happened. The two adult hogs--I estimate them at 600 lbs+?? each--way too big for a bath tub--turned around and just stared at us, both of them. And we either looked very tough or not tasty at all, as they eyed us over, then turned and darted away quick as a flash. THANK GOODNESS! That was the most scary moment I have ever had in the woods, topping the hog nose snake on the trail just two days earlier! I no longer need balloon angioplasty or a heart stint, because my heart pumped so hard and fast, that any blockage I may have had was cleared by the blood exploding out of my heart! What a way to end the trip! I believe I sprinted that last mile and a half out of the woods, and it wasn't till we were twenty miles down the highway that I could breath normally again! Ah, but what a great story it gave the adventurous college student!

So ended our five day trek. We enjoyed it all! OTA maps were GREAT--every word and marking was valuable. We advise any hikers to (a) fully read this website before getting there and (b) call or stop in to the OTA office with your questions.

Thanks for the great trip OTA! And good luck backpackers!
JJN
 
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Re: Trace Creek and Taum Sauk Section Hike

Postby slosh » Fri May 13, 2016 6:40 am

Thanks for the trip report. Very well written. Sounds like you made some memories and had some fun with your son on the trail. That's what it's all about.
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Re: Trace Creek and Taum Sauk Section Hike

Postby n3870v » Fri May 13, 2016 7:25 am

Thanks for sharing your trip. I do like the Trace section. I have seen plenty of snakes on the OT,and actually dont mind them. I always carry bear spray on the OT, but not for the bears - I carry it because of the hogs!!

The Missouri Dept of Conservation is trying to control them, but I am not sure how they are doing. They have a phone number to call for sightings (573-223-4525).

N3870V
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Re: Trace Creek and Taum Sauk Section Hike

Postby mike » Fri May 13, 2016 8:33 am

Great trip report, sounds like you had a memorable trip. Thanks for sharing.

Mike
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