Courtios Section - M0-M34.5 - Dec 2011

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Courtios Section - M0-M34.5 - Dec 2011

Postby DirtRoadRunner » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:26 pm

I hiked the Courtios section from Onondaga Cave to Highway 8 this weekend. Bass' Canoe Rental shuttled me from the Highway 8 trailhead to Onondaga Cave for $40 (fair price, IMO) and I started this past Friday at 8:30 AM. They were also nice enough to allow me to stash my overnight pack at their store, allowing me to get in the first 13 miles carrying only a daypack.

I made brisk time to Bass' and picked up my pack at 12:45 PM. Feeling a little tired, and good about my mileage, I hiked on to ~15.4 and forded Courtios Creek to camp on a gravel bar on the western bank. The creek was COLD this time of year. I brought along a pair of Crocs for fording (worth their weight, IMO). The first few steps were OK, but after a few seconds my feet and lower legs were throbbing in pain from the cold. Luckily it subsided a few seconds after getting onshore. Spent a relaxing night camped on the gravel bar, with the forest strangely silent. No wind, no owls, no coyotes, no insects - just pure silence, and the occasional sound of a truck a few miles south on Highway 8. Made for a very peaceful night.

This morning I broke camp a little before 8:00 AM and trudged through another painful ford of Courtios Creek. Also, the creek here looks only calf-deep, but it came up about to my waist - lesson learned! I hiked the last 19 miles on to Highway 8 in just over 7 hours, and walked out of the woods about 3:15 PM. My only company were two mountain bikers on the Berryman section of the trail. Enjoyed seeing lots of turkey and a large sinkhole around mile 21 or so. The mixed pine-hardwood forest and rolling ridges and hollows reminded me of my boyhood home in Howell County.

A few comments about the trail:

1. Maintenance was excellent. The entirety of the trail was very smooth and only a handful of trees had fallen across it. I also liked that the trail was wide and often level. It made walking it very easy and I made excellent time.
2. Trail markers are lacking compared to other sections. I hiked all of the North Fork section in September and found that the Courtios section has maybe 1/4-1/3 the number of trail markers as the NF. Usually this was not a big deal as the trail was well-traveled and easy to follow, but did lead to some confusion where it either crossed roadways or followed roadways, as markers would be several hundred yards apart.
3. No fault of the OTA, but I found the Berryman overlap section frustrating to hike with all of the curves (I cut through some where I could see the trail across the hollow). Great to mountain bike I suppose, but if I hike it again I'll just bushwack this and hike the same point-to-point distance in half the mileage.

Overall a great hike, although I'm beat today. I just joined the OTA so I hope to help with maintenance on this and other sections.
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Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:38 am
Location: Farmington, MO

Re: Courtios Section - M0-M34.5 - Dec 2011

Postby Jim » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:52 pm

Glad you enjoyed the trail and your trip. Thanks for the heads up on the signage. After we all walk it a few times, we sometimes take for granted a few of the crossings and signage there bouts. We'll have to take another trip around and see if we can spruce them up as the foliage is now gone and the seasonal changes sometimes take a few signs with them.

You might also check out the trip planner and look over the Hike and Float Option from Bass to Onadaga....another good option for the $40 shuttle. ;)
Posts: 436
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:07 pm
Location: O'Fallon, MO

Re: Courtios Section - M0-M34.5 - Dec 2011

Postby Ed Kindley » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:04 am

Hi DirtRoadRunner: from your report:
"....and only a handful of trees had fallen across it."

Our OT sawyer "to do" list shows the Courtois as clear, but if we knew where your
reported handful of trees are down, we'd go whack 'em. If you remember locations
give us a report at: and we'll let our crew know just where
to go. Using the mileage markers from our Trip Planner Maps would make it easier
for us. Thanks for being our "eyes" on The Trail and making a report! Ed
Ed Kindley
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 8:23 pm
Location: Wildwood MO

Re: Courtios Section - M0-M34.5 - Dec 2011

Postby DirtRoadRunner » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:24 pm

I remember a couple on the Berryman overlap. Looks like they had been there for awhile. Just trunks over the trail - easy to step over. Not sure I'd bother going out there to cut them.

For contrast, I hiked 165 mi of the Ozark Highlands Trail in October, and we had to leave the trail on a portion with literally hundreds of storm-blown trees across the trail - it was completely impassable! The bushwack around the downed trees was only marginally easier...
Posts: 185
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:38 am
Location: Farmington, MO

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