Irish Wilderrness 5-25/26

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Irish Wilderrness 5-25/26

Postby n3870v » Thu May 29, 2014 9:59 am

After reading quite a write ups from hikers who have done this trail, I had to try it, and I especially wanted to hit the cave since it was open. The description that follows could only be classified as an "adventure." I wouldnt call it a failure or a success, as we all know things dont always go as planned, especially when backpacking.

Started at the camp 5 pond trailhead and went counterclockwise. Things started out normal, made it to Bliss spring and started to set up camp at the homestead on the 11 Point river. While setting up camp it became obvious it was a holiday weekend. Even though I was in a wilderness area, the boat traffic on the river was very annoying. Nothing but loud boats going up & down the river the rest of the day. I just chuckled to myself and tried to ignor it.

While arranging my gear I noticed that somehow, my topo maps were missing! Not good, especially since I had lost the trail a few times on the hike here. They must have fallen from my pack on the trial somewhere, but where? I decided to continue on in the morning without them.

Left early in the morning because I wanted tto spend alot of time in the cave. Well, about 1.5 miles inot the hike I lost the trail. After reading Mikes Trip report, it was probably in the same area he had difficulty. I spent 45 minutes trying to find any sing of the trail. But without the topo maps it was a lost cause - I had no idea which way to head. There were only two choices, continue on and possibly end up on the news, or go back.

At that point I came up with a third idea. I knew that somewhere down the trail, there was a spur trail that connects to the river where the floaters camp. If I could flag down one of those annoying loud boaters, maybe they would give me a lift to the camp. So I hiked back to the homestead and down to the river. Took off my pack and waited for the next boat. And waited, and waited, and waited. Where did all the annoying loud boaters go? An hour and a half and still not one boat!

Well, I finaly decided that this wasnt going to work and just started to hike back the way I came. So about 3 miles down the trail, there were my maps! Just laying right on the trail. It was hot, I was sweating and frustrated, so I sat down for a drink and snack. I was trying to figure if I still had enough time to head back and try it again. That thought only lasted about 1 minute when I heard the first rumble of thunder. Then another, and another. I took out my rain cover for my pack and put it on. I decided that as hot and sweaty as I was, no rain gear for me. Let it rain!! And it did! As I headed back to the car, the temp dropped about 10 degrees, and the rain felt so good. I walked the last 5 miles in the rain and felt totally refreshed.

Lessons learned - dont be complacent with my maps and maybe its about time I invest in a GPS!

I will have to try this again sometime before Sept 14th, that when they close the cave.

N3870V
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Re: Irish Wilderrness 5-25/26

Postby steve l » Thu May 29, 2014 6:00 pm

Pretty good story. Glad you made it back to share it!

About all I can tell you about the jet boats is just think how awful they would be if you were canoeing. I canoe the river every summer for 5 nights and have been on the river during a jet boat swarm, and quite simply I despise them.

Nothing like the noise & gasoline smell lingering in the air during an outdoors adventure.
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Re: Irish Wilderrness 5-25/26

Postby jyancey » Thu May 29, 2014 8:23 pm

That does sound like an adventurous trip! Good call on backtracking due to lost maps. The trail from Bliss Spring to the White's Creek camp is indeed hard to follow in places. I am surprised to hear that White's Creek Cave is open. I thought all USFS caves in Missouri were closed indefinitely due to White Nose Syndrome. The cave really is cool (literally and figuratively!) The entrance room is huge. It is essentially a truncated "tunnel" with the entrance near the ceiling and a breakdown pile at the other end. If you climb up to the top of the pile and look back, you get a nice natural light view of the passage. A passage off to the right of the breakdown pile leads into the rest of the cave, beyond the twilight zone. As a lifelong caver, I have to offer the following admonitions: wear a helmet, take at least three, and preferably more, sources of light, tell someone where you are going and when you will return, and don't cave solo. Having said that, I have to admit that I have entered that cave while on a solo hike, but only to the end of the entrance room. I have explored the rest of the cave with buddies and all the necessary gear. Please use good judgement, but don't be unnecessarily paranoid either. It is certainly worth visiting, especially on a hot muggy day.

A nice place to camp a short distance from the cave is Fiddler Spring. I suspect that Fiddler is the resurgence for Whites Creek Cave.

And yes, powerboats on any wilderness river are annoying. I usually visit the Eleven Point in the off-season, so I am not used to seeing many boats or other people. It is a fantastic place in late fall and winter!
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Re: Irish Wilderrness 5-25/26

Postby mike » Fri May 30, 2014 8:22 am

Sounds like you had an interesting trip, thanks for sharing!

Mike
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