Courtois section in August!

Post a narrative about your trip on the Ozark Trail

Courtois section in August!

Postby Big Jim Mac » Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:36 pm

I know most activity on the OT has come to a stop with the hot weather and jungle growth typical to Missouri. But like Ishmael and his need for water, I had a strong yearning for an Ozark Trail adventure. Or maybe John Muir is more appropriate: "The trail is calling and I must go." I also had a new camping hammock I was dying to try out for real and not just in the woods behind the house. So on July 31, I headed out, figuring I would start at the beginning of the trail near Onondaga Cave. I wasn't real sure what I would find, even had a plan B in case the trail l was too grown up to hike. I missed the trailhead, guess I expected a sign that said "Ozark Trail" instead of the one that says Huzzah State Forest. So if you're looking for this one, the TH is just across the bridge and you park on the opposite side of the road. I got a late start so was pretty anxious to hit the trail. In my haste, I left the passenger side window down, didn't notice till I got back the next day. Inside was a pair of Nikon D-SLRs and an entire bag of lenses, etc. Also left my wallet and for good measure the keys to the car under the seat. This on a Saturday night when both the state park and Ozark Wilderness REsort were full.

The trail at first was a little weedy but not bad. Obviously someone is keeping it knocked down. It got a lot better when I crossed the road and got on some real trail. I was disappointed to see the singletrack turn into chat road, but there's not a lot of that. I only made it a mile when I could see darkness was catching up so I hung my hammock, bug net and tarp in a nice stand of pine. Even had a stump to use for a table. The pine bed meant no fire but I was wringing wet anyway.

Hammocks are a great idea for the OT, you never have to worry about finding level ground and he rocks don't dig into your back. I have been hanging out on the hammock forum and you can trust what the experts there say. You need an underquilt and a top quilt designed for hammocks, not a sleeping bag and pad. It's almost impossible to get in a sleeping bag in a hammock! Fortunately, I didn't need the bag so I just laid on it. Overall, it was a pretty god sleep but I really wish I hadn't forgot the pillow.

Next morning I made coffee with the JetBoil French press and read Hemingway's Nick Adams stories while it brewed. If you ever wonder why you yearn to get in the woods, read "Big Two-Hearted River." Great stuff. Debated caching my gear since I wouldnt be needing most of it on the hike, but decided my main goal was to just see how I do with a full load. So I hauled it all to the Courtois. Only a couple spots had any weeds. Most of the trail was perfect. Only saw one downed tree and that was in the first mile.

Wish I could say the bugs weren't bad but that would be a lie. throughout the hike, I had horseflies, gnats and mosquitoes buzzing me. Never got bit, Deep Woods off kept them from settling, but they sure drove me crazy. I drank a lot of water, and when I got to the Courtois I shed some layers and went for a swim. I also pumped some water but made it back without drinking any. I'm sure it was OK.

Wish I could have done more, really wanted to see the Narrows, but as Nick Adams would say, I'll save that for another day. So you see, you can backpack in August. However, I'm looking forward to the first cold snap that drives the bugs away...
Big Jim Mac
 
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby Big Jim Mac » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:06 am

Figured some pictures were in order:

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Big Jim Mac
 
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby Jim » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:13 pm

I took this same trip just a few weeks prior. When you made it to the river you were just below the narrows. The walk up the ridge isn't to bad. We camp near the scenic bluff. You would enjoy that site with the hammock. The real secret is to hike in on a Saturday then finish up Sunday morning in to Bass, rent a kayak and float back to the start. Perfect 2 day trip. 3 if ur extra slow.

That eno sure looks low slung. We have been enjoying the Hennessey hammocks. I like being right about bear nose high when sleeping. keeps the little critters at bay.
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby Big Jim Mac » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:47 pm

Good advice on that float back, I've got to try that as soon as the "tourists" give up the river! I dropped the hammock down to sit in it, but you also see one of the flaws of the ENO suspension, the slapstraps stretch. This is my first venture into hanging since the hemp ropes broke on my dad's old Army surplus jungle hammocks. Plan to move this one to the back porch and get a Warbonnet Blackbird for packing.

Anyone got any pics of the Scotia iron smelter ruins? Wanted to check that out but wasn't sure exactly where it is.
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby ImWithSadie » Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:19 pm

Nice trip report. And you've just about almost sold me on the hammock! I'm tired of hunting around for a good camping spot.
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby randyanderson » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:45 pm

Nice report Big Jim!. You'll like the Blackbird. I love mine. What's your name over on Hammock Forums? Maybe we can get together some time, I'm thinking about heading down there for a late fall/winter hike.

Randy
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby Big Jim Mac » Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:33 am

Big Jim Mac, same as here. Would love to try out that Blackbird. I'm always up for a hike too. Maybe we can get a fall Missouri group hang going?
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby randyanderson » Sat Aug 07, 2010 8:19 pm

That sounds great! I might be able to make the 6-7 hour trip down from Iowa in late October/ November. I 'd definitely prefer if we were doing some backpacking rather than just car camping.

Randy
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby Coldspring » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:52 am

Big Jim Mac wrote:Maybe we can get a fall Missouri group hang going?


I'd be interested. In fact, that's something I would have liked to have did back in the Spring, I'm just not much on organizing things. I was headed to an Ozark hang on the Buffalo River back in the spring and just changed my mind and took a backpack by myself. I hear they had a nice time. I even got busy and built an awesome topquilt so I could show off. Maybe if you organize a Missouri hang, it will motivate me to do my next project idea.
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Re: Courtois section in August!

Postby Big Jim Mac » Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:44 pm

Wouldn't be too hard to get organized, but I would need to gear up, need some insulation, top and bottom. Irish Wilderness might be a neat place to do it. Or should it be on the OT?
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