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Trace Section

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:14 pm
by MoTreks
I hiked the Trace section last weekend. I parked my Jeep at the parking area on Hwy A at Bell Mountain. Then my support crew (Dad and younger brother) drove me to Hazel Creek Campground. I had planned on camping at Hazel Creek; however, we arrived at the campground around 5:30 P.M. so I decided to hike in a couple of miles and camp in a more remote spot.

I found a spot on top of a ridge (old forest road) just short of mile marker 2. That night I thought it was suppose to get down to a low of 41 degrees. I was carrying my Thermarest Alpine quilt (good to around 35 degrees). I actually camped out the week before and tested it down to 41 degrees. I had to use my Sea to Summit bag liner to sleep comfortably at the temperature. So I thought I was ready. I actually got a little cool that night and had to pull on my Marmot Driclime windshirt over my baselayer to stay warm. I woke up to find frost on the tent poles so I believe it got a little cooler than 41 degrees that night.

I also carried a new stove with me. I keep working to get my base weight down. So I decided to cook 100% with wood and acquire a wood backpacking stove. I bought the Emberlit Fire Ant and it worked great. It only weighs 2.8 oz and will boil a cup of water in 5 minutes with a handful of twigs. I plan to carry it rather than my Giga stove and isobutene canister. I made some Mountainhouse Beef Stroganoff and Apple Crisp using the fire ant. My base weight on this trip was right at 15 lbs.

I normally carry 2 liters with me and carry the larger Sawyer filter with me along with the 1 liter Sawyer bag and back flushing syringe. I use 2 one liter SmartWater bottles (thread on the neck of the bottle matches the threading of the Sawyer filter) to hold the water and carry a 2 liter Evernew polybag (threads same as filter) in case I need to carry more water for a short distance. I bought the Sawyer mini for this trip and only carried one liter or no water at all on this trip. If there are enough sources of reliable water on the trail (as there was on this trip), I can carry both bottles empty most of the day and simply drink my fill of water when I crossed a stream. This would not work during the summer when water is less reliable but it was great for this trip.

I was not sure where I would camp Saturday night. I had obtained some help from the forum on potential camping areas. I decided that I would push to make it to the campsite at the Big River (point where the Trace and Middle Fork meet). That would be a 15 mile day. I stopped around 11 A.M. for brunch (I did not eat a breakfast) of Mountainhouse Breakfast skillet in tortillas. The most interesting area on the Trace is the Nazarenko spring. I did not get off the trail to drop down to the spring but it was a cool area and yes the beavers were there. There were several beaver dams in the area and a good size bank lodge. I arrived at Big River around 5:30 only to find a couple with their kids and dog already occupying the camp area. I could have setup close to them but decided to give all of us some room (besides the dog did not seem to care for me much). I hiked another two miles and found a spot to pitch the tent (no water but I had picked up a liter at the Big River earlier). It ended up being a 17 mile day and I had camp setup around 6:30. I was actually so tired that I just ate a Payday bar (saving my beef stew next months hike of the Taum Sauk section) and went to bed.

I slept better the second night and it did not get below 40 degrees so I stayed warmer. I only had 7 miles left of my trip so I took my time getting on the trail Sunday morning. I setup the fire ant to cook up some Mountainhouse eggs and ham (in a tortilla wrap) along with some green tea. I hit the trail around 8:30 and arrived at the Hwy A parking area at 2:00 P.M. There were several semi-permanent campsites on the trail south of Hwy 32. However, the trail really did not become interesting until I was close to Bell mountain.

The trail was in great shape, thank you trail volunteers and trail adopters. There were a few blow-downs but most appeared to have been there for some time. I did not run into any new blow-downs blocking the trail. The blazing was great. I had no trouble following the trail. The only person I ran into on the trail was a mountain biker Saturday evening. Another great trip on the Ozark Trail.