Four sections on the OT

Post a narrative about your trip on the Ozark Trail

Four sections on the OT

Postby Jbf » Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:23 pm

From November 27 to December 2 I backpacked from the western end of the Eleven Point section to the Northern end of the Blair Creek section. Between the newly fallen leaves, short days, and an all day rain, it was a fun and challenging trip.

Rising early on Sunday, I dropped a car at the northern end of the Blair Creek section and arrived at my starting pointy around 9am, thanks to a shuttle fro my wife (thanks, honey). I immediately realized, due to the newly fallen leaves, that I would be rolling around on hidden rocks and roots the entire trip (ouch on the feet). As I settled into my pace, the solitude of the area was evident. Wildlife and a mild breeze were my only companions. I saw many deer and at least 100 turkeys, by far, more than any other section. There's nothing like a group of turkeys taking flight a short distance away to break the quiet and get the blood pumping. I continued on and found a spot to camp a little past some nice views of the river from the bluffs (around mile 13.5).

I woke early, packed, and got on the trail knowing that there was an excellent chance of rain in the morning and not wanting to break camp in bad weather. By 7:30 I was walking in a downpour. I put on my rain jacket with nothing on underneath, hoping to minimize sweating. It took awhile to find the right pace to keep warm enough without becoming drenched in sweat. I decided to take the lower route to speed my arrival to the Hurricane creek crossings before the water levels rose. When I arrived the water levels had risen only slightly and I crossed without taking off my boots since they were already wet from the rain. Knowing it would be around freezing that night, I was very concerned about my gear getting wet, causing me to check the position of my pack cover frequently. I eventually finished the Eleven Point section and started the River to River section still hiking in the rain. As mid afternoon arrived I started to wonder if it would stop raining before dark. I didn't want to set up in the rain and considered hiking until it stopped, dark or not. Finally, around 3:15 the rain let up. I started looking for a campsite and came upon an excellent one around 4:15. My go to method for finding a campsite on the OT is to look at my topographical map and look for a hilltop that has some reasonable levelness to it. Many times these hills have been logged and are now covered in pines. This offers a soft bed of needles, with much less ground cover to deal with (usually). I was treated to some sunshine and a beautiful sunset the last 15 minutes of the day.

I woke, packed, and got out on the trail by 6am, wanting to finish this section before the end of the day. The Between the Rivers section was an exercise in going up and over a hill, down into a valley, and up and over the next hill. Good exercise and a lot of fun. By 4 o clock I crossed highway 60 and entered the Current River Section. I found a campsite (around mile 28.5), ate, and called my family. I slept good and was serenaded by cows in a nearby pasture all night.

As I began my walk the next day, my goal was to get to the south wildlife fence of Peck's Ranch quickly. I wanted plenty of time to navigate the fenced portion of the ranch since I had read that a GPS was recommended for this section. As I entered the area, the open grassy areas were a welcome change. I realized the GPS recommendation was warranted, though. Much of the trail was overgrown sometimes feeling like a bushwack. Other areas had many trees lying across the path making it hard to follow. It seems more OT blazes are needed in the whole area. I slowed down, observed and took this opportunity to sharpen my navigation skills. I eventually made it through (without a GPS) and had that tired but accomplished feeling. For the record: I understand why this area receives less maintenance with it being managed differently by the Conservation Department. It is closed to maintenance for much of the hiking season, but I feel that it needs a work crew before April 1. And "yes" I would be glad to volunteer for a work trip if one gets organized. I continued on the trail and enjoyed many of the sights. Stegall mountain was fantastic with views in all directions. Also, the massive sinkhole on the downslope was impressive. I arrived at Rocky Falls around dusk, got several pictures and continued on to mile 9 to camp for the night.

The next morning I was in for a treat. Several shutins, Klepzig mill, and Current River overlooks were all passed in just a few miles of hiking. Definitely an area I'll return to in the future. I finished the Current River section and started the Blair Creek section taking lunch at the bluffs above owls bend (what a view). I passed the only hiker I saw on the entire hike after lunch (a woman on an exercise day hike) and realized how remote much of this trail is. By mid afternoon I was following Blair creek for several miles and enjoyed the bluffs, sometimes above them and sometimes below them. I couldn't find a suitable campsite until well after dark. When I finally did, I set up quickly (around mile 13.5) and slept soundly.

After consulting my map in the morning, I realized there weren't many sights left on my remaining miles and quickly got in the mood to finish quickly. Much of the day was spent on an old tram line paralleling the county road. By 11am I arrived at my car and headed home.

When hiking long distances it's easy to realize how much work it takes to keep trails usable. Looking at the many cut logs highlights how much sweat the sawyers have left on the OT. Finiding an OT blaze in a confusing section is the best feeling in the world. Many thanks to the OTA.
Jbf
 
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Re: Four sections on the OT

Postby Jim » Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:23 pm

Thanks for the great write up! I agree that section from Klepzig to Stegal is pretty special. I saw the wild horses cross the trail as we passed.
Jim
 
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Location: O'Fallon, MO

Re: Four sections on the OT

Postby Jim » Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:28 pm

Thanks for the great write up! I agree that section from Klepzig to Stegal is pretty special. I saw the wild horses cross the trail as we passed.

and you are so right... just spying that white and green OT marker is such a good feeling when your legs are tired and you are sure you're as lost as ever.

Where there many downed trees on the Between the River's section?
Jim
 
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Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:07 pm
Location: O'Fallon, MO

Re: Four sections on the OT

Postby Jbf » Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:23 pm

I was referring to the fenced in portion of Peck's ranch in the Current River section. It's a protected area that's being used for the reintroduction of elk in Missouri. It's closed most of the spring during elk calving season and for some hunting seasons in the fall, limiting maintenance in that area.
Jbf
 
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Re: Four sections on the OT

Postby slosh » Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:22 am

Thanks for taking the time to write and share your trip report. I enjoyed it immensely. Brought back good memories of those sections.
slosh
 
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