Eleven Point hike and float

Post a narrative about your trip on the Ozark Trail

Eleven Point hike and float

Postby jyancey » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:35 am

This is my first trip report post. Sorry, no photos. I didn't take a camera.

I had a few days available in mid October, so I planned a combination backpacking / floating trip. I usually like to do those trips on the Current River, but due to the US government shutdown the Ozark National Scenic Riverways park was closed. Not wanting to be subject to arrest or fined for recreating on public land that I have paid for with my taxes, I looked for other venues. I have long wanted to combine a hike on part of the Eleven Point section of the Ozark Trail with a float on the river, so I chose that route.

I drove down to the Eleven Point area on Friday October 11, arriving at McCormick Lake around 3:00 pm. I followed the road past the campground and on past the dam all the way to where it dead-ends at the river, near the "Boom Hole" as noted on my OT map. I then dropped my kayak and some extra food and gear and secured it with chains and locks to a tree. I then proceeded to drive to Turner's Mill downstream. I had read that the US Forest Service lands were still "open" for recreational use, but that some services were curtailed. When I arrived at Turner's Mill I found that to indeed be the case. The USFS's response to the shutdown was to lock the vault toilet at the floater's parking lot! That seemed to be a much more reasonable action to take than the NPS's stance of complete closure. Kudos to USFS for sensibility, and boo hiss to NPS for meanness!

My plan was to hike the county road back toward the forest road 3152 Ozark Trail trailhead. Instead of going all the way to FR 3152, I would cut off on FR 4119 and then follow a ridge to the northwest to drop down to the OT very near its crossing of Hurricane Creek. I had dawdled a bit too much on my drive down and in making my self-shuttle, so I only had about an hour of daylight to get to the trail and make camp. By the time I got to the ridge in question it was getting dark. I miscalculated my route a bit and ended up veering too far north. The hillside I dropped down was very steep with lots of brush, grapevines and sticker bushes. When I reached the bottom I was a little confused as to my exact location, so I had to break out my headlamp and really study the map. I finally figured out where the trail should be and bashed through a little more brush about 100 yards and hit the OT at last! A fairly short walk then brought me to Hurricane Creek. I crossed the creek, but had a hard time finding the continuation of the trail in the dark. After some frustrating back and forth searching, I found the trail and proceeded onward.

The Hurricane Creek bottom was brushy and buggy, so I decided to camp on the next high ridge after a series of switchbacks. That meant a dry camp, so I needed to tank up on water before leaving the creek. I walked to the intersection of the lower and upper trails and then followed the lower trail until I heard water running. I had to bash through a very dense stand of river cane to get back to Hurricane Creek, where I filled all of my Platypus water containers. I then backtracked to the trail intersection and turned onto the upper trail. By that time, it was completely dark, so I was navigating by headlamp, and with a heavy water-burdened pack. The switchback section of trail ascending to the ridge is very steep, and it must be spectacular in daylight! In the dark, it appears to be somewhat forbidding. I finally reached the summit plateau around 10:00 pm, where I made camp on relatively flat, open ground, albeit somewhat rocky.

I awoke on Saturday morning to lightning flashes and approaching thunder. I debated whether I should just lounge in camp and wait out the rain, or break camp and walk through it. I chose to walk. About half an hour of walking it started to rain, eventually coming down in buckets. I had my rain jacket on and my pack was dry-bag lined, so I just put my head down and plodded on through. My upper body stayed reasonably dry, but my legs and mid-body were soaked due mostly to wet vegetation. After seemingly endless ups and downs I arrived at the Greer Crossing campground, where I refilled my water bottles for the next upland dry section. The sun was starting to peek out by that time, and it was a most pleasant walk along the tree-lined trail. I stopped at a couple of bluff-top overlooks and finally took a long break at the best one as noted on the OT map. The view there is fabulous, including a bald eagle soaring through the valley! I sat in the sun there and dried out my pants and my raingear. I also took the opportunity to pick off about a zillion sticktights that were covering my pants! While I was resting there a couple of guys appeared, much to my surprise. They were camped at McCormick Lake with a group of their fraternity alums on an annual outing, and were day hiking that part of the trail. I think they were surprised to see someone else too!

After a nice lunch and much needed rest and drying out, I continued on down the trail to where it intersects the McCormick Lake spur. The trail then follows the dirt road I had previously driven down to stash my boat. I had a lovely stroll down the road, free of rain, sticktights and steep inclines! I got back to my boat in short order. After unlocking it, transferring gear from my pack to kayak hatches and donning my PFD and spray skirt, I launched my boat into the river and started the next segment of my journey.

I floated down river, passing the overlook bluff where I had dried out, past the Greer Spring confluence, then under the Highway 19 bridge, then past the Greer Crossing boat ramp. I found a lovely gravel bar about two miles below Greer Crossing and made a very pleasant camp at around 3:30 or 4:00. I thought I had the river to myself, but there were a surprising number of floaters who passed by even at that late hour. A group of Boy Scouts went by nearly at dusk. With the luxury of a fire and some food more substantial than backpacking fare, I had a most pleasant camp indeed!

The next morning I lazed around camp, even cooking breakfast in my cast-iron skillet. What decadence! After drying off the night's heavy dew from my tarp and gear, I packed up and headed down river. I watched some otters playing and eating crayfish, ran Mary Deckard Shoals and finally reached my destination of Turner's Mill. After unpacking the kayak and loading everything back into my truck, I turned north and headed home.

I always have some feeling of regret that I have to leave after finishing a backpacking or floating trip, but I come away with deep satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. This trip met all my expectations, and whets my appetite for future adventures on the Ozark Trail and southern Missouri rivers.
jyancey
 
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Location: Central Missouri

Re: Eleven Point hike and float

Postby aroth87 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:02 pm

That sounds like a great trip! I've always thought there were lots of great opportunities for float/hikes in the Ozarks but don't have a boat of my own. I haven't heard of anyone doing this route so I'll definitely add it to my list. I really like the Eleven Point section, its a shame it doesn't get as much use as the northern sections.

Adam
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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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Re: Eleven Point hike and float

Postby mike » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:38 am

Great report sounds like you had an interesting adventure. Thanks for sharing.

Mike
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Re: Eleven Point hike and float

Postby pipsin » Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:54 pm

Very good report - I like reading about the details of others' trips. It makes me want to get into the out of doors right now. And...yours left me feeling envious that I don't own my own boat. Question - when you stashed your boat - did you camoflauge it in some way, or simply trust that it would be left alone? It would be nerve-racking for me to wonder for the first half of the trip if it was safe and sound as I left it. Glad all went well for you - except for your cross-country bushwhacking experience, which I suppose was a character-building exercise within itself. Thanks again.

Mitchell
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Re: Eleven Point hike and float

Postby jyancey » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:45 pm

Mitchell,
Thanks for the kind words. I did not worry much about the boat. It was pretty secure, as well as being WAY off the beaten path. I didn't expect anyone to pass by that way except perhaps a wayward backpacker or horse rider. Neither of them would be able to carry a boat away, nor would they be likely to have bolt cutters with them! I have done this kind of trip many times and I have never had my boat disturbed. During the "normal" recreation season I usually try to put it in a very visible place on the theory that there will be plenty of people (read, "witnesses") around to deter a would-be thief, since it would be very obvious if they were cutting chains and cables. In the seasons I like to backpack and float there aren't many people around, so my theory is that there are fewer miscreants about so my boat is safe then too. And maybe I have just been lucky!... For my hard-shell kayak I put the boat snug up to a tree, centered on the cockpit. I use a heavy chain around the seat bracket so I can take out all the slack and lock the boat tightly to the tree. I also use a bicycle cable that loops around the hull right over the rear hatch. I secure that cable to the chain with another lock so it can't be slid off, thus securing the hatch and protecting whatever gear I have stashed there. Loose items, like paddles, I usually hide under leaves nearby.

When I have done bicycle shuttles I usually hide the bike off in the woods, covering it with leaves and brush. A stinging nettle patch is a great place to hide stuff!

As far as off-trail bushwhacking, I love it! It is a great way to connect trails, and it can be fun to navigate and route-find. I have had my share of surprises and difficulties, but that's part of the fun! I suppose it does build character. My only concern is that I could be injured, so I take the precaution of letting my wife know what route I am taking, and I am very careful when bushwhacking. I am usually solo, so I try to practice abundant caution.
jyancey
 
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Location: Central Missouri

Re: Eleven Point hike and float

Postby n3870v » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:42 am

Mitchell:

If you are doing alot of solo off trail hiking there is a item that you can buy that can possibly help save your life.

Two summers ago my daughter worked in Wyoming, and did alot of solo, off trail hiking in remote areas. I bought her a personnel ELT (emergency locator tranmitter). This unit is about the size of a pack of cigarettes and when activated, sends a emergency 406Mhz signal which is picked up by satellite (not cell phone signal). This is the same frequency that all aircraft & ships use when in emergency situations. When purchased the user fills out the information and registers it with NOAA. Thats all there is to it, and there are no activation, monthly or yearly fees. They sell them at REI and all major outfitters.

You must realize that this is not a toy, but a serious piece of equipment. If activated, SAR (search and rescue) will be put in motion and out looking for you.

Its a great piece of equipment to have in your pack. If you are more tech savy, there is another model that if you pay a monthly fee, your wife (or anyone you wish) can track you while you are hiking.

N3870v
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Re: Eleven Point hike and float

Postby jonc » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:21 pm

You can hike from Turner's Mill upstream along the river and connect with the lower Ozark Trail after crossing Hurricane Creek. You will have to deal with the thorny stuff around Turner's Mill...pretty bad in spots. The views are wonderful and you'll be right next to the river the whole way. The hike is super easy except for the thorns and Hurricane creek if it's up.

You can go visit an old schoolhouse/church from Turner's Mill...you'll notice an old road that is blocked off with some posts that heads downstream along the river. It's been probably 5 years since I've been down to it but it's not too far from the parking lot...the school/church is in great shape and a short hike (mile or so if I remember).
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