Taum Sauk, summit to Hwy 21

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Taum Sauk, summit to Hwy 21

Postby GrantTheDad » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:57 am

Above this computer I have a nice color map of the trail with little blurbs about each section on the sides. It reminds me of my hobby and how I like to think about being out there when I'm not and keep track of the miles.

One little piece I have never added was the 5.5 miles east of Taum Sauk summit. Two years ago we camped at the summit in February with the intention of dayhiking it. We ended up in the worst ice storm of the season, fogged in. While the camping was awesome, we decided not to venture out on the trail under such conditions.

This last weekend, here we were in February again, trying to add those few miles to my score. I had my son Mason, my brother Daryl who turned me on to backpacking many years ago on this section, some other backpacking friends Dan and Vaughn--both veterans of Bell Mt.--and a few tenderfeet and kids there just for the camping.

After a clear night, we awoke Saturday to the thing we were hoping for--snow! It is absolutely beautiful to wake up and look out of your tent door to the sight of snow coming down through the trees. Everyone was enjoying the camping so much that when I started for the trailhead, only Vaughn and I and our sons actually hiked. The other guys wished us well and took our pictures at the sign and off we went.

The tempurature was just below freezing and although there was snow on the ground, it was covering mud. We slipped and slid our way down the trail. Soon the cloud cover broke up, the sun came out, and by the time we got down to the hollow between Taum Sauk and Russell, the snow was just a memory. Maybe it only snowed on the summit.

As we headed down Russell Mountain I noticed moss growing just on the rocks of the trail. Looking ahead, you could see the green trail winding down through the brown and gray. This reminded me of hiking the Trace Creek section a few years ago after a controlled burn. Everything was black except for a foot on either side of the trail and you could see this greenway winding through the woods. The kids were having a great time as the surroundings got rockier and we decided we were going to Elephant Rocks in the afternoon.

The trail was clear except for a few trees. A couple of miles before the trailhead we came across a couple of trees with trunks across the trail. Looking around we saw a whole cascade of downed trees starting far uphill and proceeding way down to the creek below. It was quite a sight.

As we reached the trailhead, I added it up--175 miles for me and 54 miles for the nine-year-old. Then we were off to Elephant Rocks and another night of camping fun at the summit...and maybe some new recruits for backpacking in March!
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