Current (Rocky Falls) through Blair Sections 3/11-14/11

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Current (Rocky Falls) through Blair Sections 3/11-14/11

Postby hikeabelle » Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:32 pm

OT Backpacking March 11-14, 2011

A 3 day, 30+ mile trek on Missouri's Ozark Trail. Backpacked part of the Current through Blair sections March 12-14, 2011. Learned a lot as this was the highest mileage most of us Iowans have done, and two hikers were beginner backpackers. Friday through Sunday gave us 68 degree warmth, and Monday turned ugly as it got cold. Forecast said Sunrise 6:39 AM. Sunset 6:25 PM. Approx. temp. Lows 35-40. Highs 45-50. Possible rain on Monday.

Friday night camped for free at Shawnee Mac Lakes Conservation Area two miles east of Salem on County Road 4110. Beautiful primitive free campground. Outhouse was the only amenity. The second half of the group got there around midnight. Woke up early to realize I made a mistake on calculating the drive time to get to where Richard from Richard’s Canoe Rental would pick us up (Blair Fen Trailhead). The guide book is a little weird in their directions and we ended up going down the valley to a dirt road where there’s no cell service to ask a farmer in a tractor where the trail head was. He pointed us back in the right direction back to the intersection with an X marked on a tree. We flagged down our shuttle driver who had waited patiently for us for 15 minutes.

Started at Rocky Falls due to Peck Ranch being closed the week before we got there to hike north to Blair Fen Trailhead. Rocky Falls was gorgeous, however finding the spur trail was a little difficult since there was no OT markers. You can’t find what you’re looking for if you stand in one place. We hopped some prominent rocks at the narrow point of the creek below the falls and found the trail. Water was not a problem to find. The OT is basically the opposite of the SHT. There are no trail bridges. The feet got wet often. We ended some long switchback climb to nice ridges and back down to an eerie pine forest to come out to Powder Mill Ferry Trailhead on the banks of the Current River. Not quite 10 miles the first day.

Day two started getting to the Road Bridge of the Current River and up the hill to a beautiful overlook that you see in the video in the Blair Creek section. This was the groups last large group photo taken. The fast hikers went ahead and promised to stop and wait at trail forks and creek crossings. Becky waited for us at a creek crossing as the others went ahead. Looking at our feet while crossing the creek we missed the OT marker pointed to the left on a tree. We proceeded straight ahead to a mess of creek streams crisscrossed together. The trees began to bear a pink X on the trunk and began to think we were going the wrong way. Richard, the shuttle driver had warned me about this Pryor Pioneer Trail. Since the OT signs were few and far between we decided to keep going. The trail turned into a grassy road and we found a million daffodils and a homestead ruins. We made a group decision to head back to where we first crossed the creek that Becky had waited for us. Then we saw the OT marker (sigh.)

From there (one of the Bloom creeks) we hiked up hill, forever! We took a lunch break then kept going determined to catch up with the others since this wonderful group leader (me) forgot to tell the group what the plan was for the day! I assumed we’d stick together. The winding trails along the hillside here barely had any markers at the time and we got smart to look at the opposite side of the trees for markers. We had wondered if the leaves rustled on the trail belonged to our faster group members. We passed a small spring feed creek, and I made the mistake of picking something up from the water with my pole...a dead copperhead. I learned my lesson fast. I heard of an unmarked campsite in Sugarcamp Hollow just off of the gravel road next to a graveyard. As we got there we didn’t see the four others ahead of us so we asked a local passing by to give us a ride as far as he would go. It started to rain and we went up the hill to take shelter for the night. We made supper basically in everyone’s own tent. Me having a hammock I set up the “party tarp”, hung our head lamps on the line, and Claire and I kicked back and made some ramen. I eat better than that, I just can’t remember what I did eat. My luck with rain again...The JRB 11x10 cat cut tarp was a blessing in storm mode. But after the wind and rain died down during the night I was woken by a sound/shadow beside my tarp. Something was making it's way curiously through the tarp "doors," and it wasn't Claire or anyone I know. I wiggled in my hammock and started talking to no one awake hoping to scare it away. A pulled stake proved it at dawn. I was paranoid all night. I guess I don't know much about animals and will, from now on, always hang a bear bag in the pouring rain. I usually do hang my food. It started to rain early in the morning too.

Day three the creek just south of Harper spring had risen and was difficult to cross. It was up to our thighs. I figured that the faster group must have camped here as it was flat, but it was a very damp and creepy place. The rest of the trail was very neat passing root cellars, more stream crossings, tall hills (mountains), and waterfalls. There was one very tall mountain with an old forest road on it that went straight up. Definitely eat before taking this on. I didn’t, and got dizzy many times. We decided to snack while hiking to make time since the weather was getting colder and the forecast was definitely not doing what it had said 3 days earlier. Everyone gave up on changing shoes at crossings and got some blisters at the end. I didn’t get my feet wet at all and I do brag about this. I chose not to cross the stream with all the waterfalls. Well I did, I got through the narrowest area and climbed up the hill to jump over the waterfall coming out of the hillside that you see in the videos. The Blair Fen sounds all cool in the guide book but it was a messy, goopy, confusing area. We tip-toed through the area and someone found a trail to the left side of the mess. Up more hills and somehow took a spur trail back to our car on CR 235. How we did that I don’t know. Sometime later on the high way going back to Salem it started to snow and sleet. We were hysterical and thankful we didn’t stay another night on the trail. For us a 10-mile-a-day goal in this terrain was just not do-able for us quite yet. It was bittersweet, and we learned a lot. The faster group was only 2 hours ahead of us the third day. ... h69TzpDC2o
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Re: Current (Rocky Falls) through Blair Sections 3/11-14/11

Postby dan » Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:45 am

sounds like quite an adventure. Enjoyed the videos. Thanks for sharing.
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Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:28 pm

Re: Current (Rocky Falls) through Blair Sections 3/11-14/11

Postby aroth87 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:08 am

A big tarp can be a real trip saver. I threw my 8x10 tarp in on a whim when I hiked with some friends in Colorado and was glad i did when we got rained on the first couple of days. Having a dry place to congregate made it a little less miserable than being stuck jammed in a tent with a couple other guys.

I think 10 miles per day sounds like a pretty good pace for a larger group, you don't want to go too fast and miss the scenery when you're with friends. Hiking alone is a different story. If you want to add a little more distance, try trimming down some of those packs! I saw a couple of monsters in the videos :lol: I'm glad you guys had a good time on the trail and you definitely picked a pretty section to take on.

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"we see the future in leaping flames, making plans in their enchantment which in the brash light of day seem foolhardy" -Sigurd Olson
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