Page 10 - 2013MagFINAL for web 7-14-14

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f moving from south to north, your
entrance to the Current River sec-
tion is a culvert. Chances are that an
eighteen-wheeler will roar over head
as you pass under US 60, on your way
to what is one of the prettiest and old-
est stretches of the Ozark Trail.
Through the thirty miles to the Current
River itself, the hiker will cross four
major creeks and a dome of rhyolite—
Stegall Mountain—topped with glades
where the views are spectacular. At
Stegall’s foot, stretching to the south,
Peck Ranch holds its furtive herd of
elk in a vast expanse of forest. But be-
fore reaching this preserve, one of the
four creeks to be crossed awaits.
After less than two miles, most likely
having just hit a stride, the hiker is
stopped at Pike Creek to wade through
what is typically shallow water. Here,
it’s the 90-degree drop to the creek
from its bank that offers the biggest
challenge, especially when hauling a
heavy load. But once past the earthen
ledge and the stream below, the
bramble on the opposite shore, and the
farm lane that was once a railroad line,
the walk enters a delightful stretch of
volcanic outcrops and cedar that stays
cool even in summer.
A gently rolling terrain then courses
through Wilburn Hollow, up and down
to Long Hollow and beyond until, as a
shy surprise, Mint Spring arrives from
the maw of a sunken hill. Only once
in my twenty-five years of hiking this
section of the OT have I found this
welcomed source of water dry. Most
often, braids of watercress follow its
flow that sparkles like diamonds in the
sun. Camping here is good and on a
level pitch. After this, water becomes
increasingly scarce.
by Bob Henningsen
Cool cascade on an Indian Creek tributary
Hikers at the early 1900s Klepzig Mill on Rocky Creek
The 2013 Ozark Trail
The streambed in Midco Hollow is
large, but dry. Beside its rock-strewn
bottom the trail wends for a good
length in a valley that was once mined
for its ore. But the low grade of iron,
economic fluctuations, and a flu epi-
demic ravaged the Midco valley until,
by WW II, the land was depopulated.
George Peck, the Chicago business-
man behind this entrepreneurial
venture, has left his name to the state
wildlife preserve and it’s here that deer
and re-introduced elk live along with
the occasional mountain lion. The six-
mile traverse through Peck Ranch can
become tedious, as the elk are most
often nowhere to be seen and the land-
scape undulates in an unremarkable
succession of ridge tops and hollows.
But then the fun begins. Once
more, water becomes available at
Rogers Creek and from its shore,
Stegall Mountain rises. Though the
long, slow climb requires some rest
stops, the views afforded at the top add
an exclamation point to the exhilara-
tion of arrival. And after Stegall it