Scour(johnson Shutins) to Highway N with a baby

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Scour(johnson Shutins) to Highway N with a baby

Postby versa » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:34 am

My family of 5 (my wife and myself and a 6year old, 4 year old, and 8 week old)decided to try to get some backpacking in this Labor Day weekend, we were only partially successful. We arrived at 11pm (6 hr drive from Iowa) Thursday at Taum Sauk and grabbed a camping spot. Early Friday we broke camp, got some breakfast in town and headed to the Scour. We got on the trail around 9am. My wife had a baby bjorn with the 16 lb. baby on the front and 11 pounds of diapers and 32 ounces of gatoraid on her back. My two older boys each carried 3.3 pounds of hammock, suspension, 50F sleeping bag and bugnet. I had a 48 pound pack on with a 2 person mesh tent, 1 hammock, 2 sleeping bags, 2 tarps, 15 pounds of food and 240 ounces(15 lbs) of water+filter. My wife was going to sleep with the baby in the tent while the older boys and myself were going to use hammocks.
Our plan was to play at in the water at the shutins on Friday till 2pm and then hike from the Scour to mile marker 15ish, camp, then continue to the padfield branch on mile marker 6 camp and refill water Saturday, retrace our steps a bit Sunday and hike up the long side of goggins and camp 1-2 miles from the trailhead before hiking out early Monday morning and grabbing some breakfest at the car before doing the shutins again with the kids. Unfortunately, it was too cold to play in the water that day (high of 72 by 1pm) so we got started early, which threw a wrench into my lunch plans, but I added a family sized freeze dried lasagna to my bag at the last minute.

The hike from the parking lot to the scour was fun and the view at the scour was very nice. My older boys and myself enjoyed hopping down from rock to rock to cross the scour but my wife, who is usually unsteady on her feet and even more so with a 16 pound baby strapped to her chest needed a little help finding a way down. There was some water flowing in the scour, not much but some. It hadn't rained for a week, but the last time it rained, it rained a lot. We continued on up the hill stopping for my boys to play on the big rocks from time to time. We eventually made it down to the river around 1:30 and stopped for some lunch and to refill our water. Took our boots off and soaked our feet in the river while the boys played around. We probably stayed too long, but we were in no hurry. Around 4:00 we saw two other groups of hikers coming from the other side of the river and then we decided to cross, we went upriver 50 feet and crossed barefoot, it took quite a bit longer to cross then I thought it would, as I crossed once with my shoes in hand to test how slippery it was (a bit slippery), then came back, got my pack, then came back for my wife, then my 8 week old, then each older boy. All in all it took nearly an hour to cross, get our shoes on and packs on. So it was a bit after 5pm when we continued on. I told my wife we would take the first spot that looked promising to camp in as we had 2.5 hours of light left, but as soon as we crossed we found a communal camp spot right by the river, I was unwilling to stop after 1 minute of hiking so after some arguing we continued on.
Very rocky for the first stretch, it eventually got less rocky as we climbed. We eventually made it to around mile marker 14 when we saw a nice little campsite just above the trail, it looked like someone had made a little fire ring on the rocks though we did not light a fire. We setup camp and started dinner (some heavy boil in a bag Thai food for the first night). It took a bit longer to setup camp then I anticipated, this was only the third time we'd used hammocks and finding trees for all three was a bit of a challenge, most of the trees in this area are quite small, less then 5 inches thick and not optimally spaced for hammocks. I was eventually able to find 3 sets of trees to hang them and setup my wife's tent (2 pound mesh inner with a hiking pole as a support). We ate dinner, unfortunately my son spilled 1/2 his food on the ground and by then it was dark. So we put the kids to bed in their hammocks and tried to wash the mutter paneer away with 1 cup of water and tried to bear bag our food. Unfortunately the tree we chose was covered in moss and the large limb broke off the tree, but we eventually got it up there. As it was dark by now and the forecast showed less than 5% chance of rain and the stars were out with no clouds in sight we decided to forego the 2 tarps we had brought to put above us. We had 1 10x10 square tarp (800 grams) we bought off amazon and one 13x10 cat cut silnylon tarp we just got done making (450 grams), instead my wife used them as pillows. We did not sleep very well that night, it got quite cold that night, around 50F and since we did not have underquilts for our hammocks we were more than a bit cold. Then to make matters worse, one of my kids had an accident and pissed his hammock at 2AM so I had to get up to help him with that (so glad I did not have his hammock hanging over anyone else). The view in the morning was spectacular, looking down into the valley and across to the other 'mountains'. We finally got up around 6:30AM, had some coffee and granola bars and broke camp. It took us a lot longer to break camp than I anticipated, we finally got on the trail at 9AM. My older boys and myself were doing fine but my wife was struggling. We finally made it to Highway N and took an hour break there to have some trailmix, breastfeed our youngest and change his diaper (we brought 6 cloth diapers (washable) with 20 biodegradable inserts that can be buried, a package of 30 biodegradable wipes, and 2 plastic outer wraps). We finally continued on across the highway, but around mile marker 12 my wife was looking like she wasn't going to be able to make it so we switched packs and I took the baby and we decided to turn back. We got back to highway N at noon and I setup the hammocks for the kids and my wife then I dropped all the gear and grabbed a bottle of water and hiked back to the car 3miles along the road (40 minutes) and came back and picked them up with the car.

In the section of trail we hiked there were a handful of downed trees and the grass got a bit tall (3 feet) in some sections but we never had a problem in that regard and found the trail easily. Surprisingly, only my wife saw a tick, and it wasn't on her. We did not have a tick problem at all, and we did regular tick checks and walked thru tall grass, however we did soak our socks, pants, and shirts in permethrin before we left. There were a LOT of spidewebs crossing the trail. We were unsuccessful in our attempt, but this was our first try hiking with a baby. We still had fun, and later that afternoon we did go to the shutins and spent a few hours climbing and playing in the water, we checked Taum Sauk for open camp spots, but being labor day weekend, it was full on Saturday. We spent too long at the shutins and it was nearly dark, we thought about hiking in to Mina Suak falls and camping there but it was getting dark and we were too tired, so we drove up to St Louis, got a hotel and went to the City Museum the next day instead. Not quite what we had planned, but we still had a very enjoyable trip.

Our take aways for this trip are to make some underquilts for the hammocks, and wait till our little one's neck is strong enough that we can use the internal frame backpack carrier we have. The baby bjorn is fine for small trips, but it puts too much weight on the neck for long journeys.
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Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2015 2:11 pm

Re: Scour(johnson Shutins) to Highway N with a baby

Postby steve l » Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:27 pm

Quite the adventure and I suspect a family trip you'll talk about for many years!
steve l
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Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 5:05 pm

Re: Scour(johnson Shutins) to Highway N with a baby

Postby rodick » Mon Sep 19, 2016 5:02 pm

It may be for the best that you stopped at Highway N. We just did Bell Mt. North to Taum Sauk Mt. last weekend (hiking the opposite direction as you). The trail conditions on Goggins weren't great. A bit brushy and overgrown heading up from the Padfield Branch. Atop Goggins was generally okay, but it was pretty nasty heading down to the Walker Branch, which you'd have been climbing. Really brushy, some downed trees across the trail, and LOTS of unavoidable thorns. We wore shorts, and my shins were covered in criss-crossed cuts. It was frustratingly slow going, as that section of trail otherwise isn't particularly difficult. That was our long day (16 mi.), and the slow, painful descent to the Walker Branch sucked the enjoyment out of it. Sounds like you stopped just short of it.

We did, however, love everything between Highway N and Taum Sauk Mt. Trail conditions were better. The variety of terrain and the views were great, too. Bell Mt. was also nice.

Props to doing what you did with a baby and kids. While hiking, my wife and I debated when we might be able to get our child (almost 3) out on the trail for an overnight trip.
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