Night On Bell Mountain- more TGO Challenge Training April 18-19, 2015

It has become the tradition, albeit a short one, to hike to the highest campsite in Missouri and test our TGO Challenge gear ( and ourselves) as it is only 19 days to the start of the challenge. The weekend forecast was for stormy weather with a 90% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday and about the same on Sunday. Not to be deterred we were going no matter what, because as we know Scotland can have unpredictable weather. However it will have perfect weather as I have a bet with Andy Howell ( for the end of the challenge if I bring good weather with me again to Scotland.

When we arrived the weather was fine, in the 60's and perfect for walking. Vicky having gained 2" in height because of her exercise routine (posture) needed a new pack, so she has a Golite Jam 50 in medium this year. 

I can't resist taking pictures of all the little wild flowers along the trail. 
 We never get used to all the rocks on this section of the Ozark Trail. This is by far the rockiest section of the entire 265 mile length.

 The turn off from the Ozark Trail to the start of the trail up to Bell Mountain

The day was muggy without any wind at all, but we made short work of the 7 miles to the top.

The Geologic Survey marker for Bell Mountain. In all the years I have been coming up here I have never found it until today. Put in place in 1938 
 The view never disappointing when you arrive at the top of Bell Mountain. This year we arrived 30 minutes faster than last year.  I fear I will be chasing Vicky across Scotland this year.
 There were a few cars in the parking lot when we left, but we passed them as they were coming down this morning. We had the entire mountain to ourselves (It might have been the weather forecast). We found our favorite spot and I was able to pitch the MLD Duomid perfectly in the tight space provided.

The clouds rolled through off and on all day, but no rain. We sat and watched the world go by and just relaxed and chatted about adventures to come.
 As evening started to fall the Turkey Vultures started to rid the thermals and glide directly over us as they soared around effortlessly. The picture does not due then justice for how large they are!

It started to rain about 3 am and rained until 6:30 am. It was a gentle rain without much wind. It is exactly what we wanted to test everything out before Scotland
The front caused an inversion and the clouds layer was holding close to the ground when we woke.

 Vicky ready to go down in her rain gear.

 The light was flat from all the overcast skies, and it always gives the woods a completely different look and feel

 Off the trail by 9:30 am, we stopped for a morning breakfast at a small "mom and pop" restaurant in Caledonia, MO. The Crow's Nest

But later that night we needed burgers! 
 The scale said I lost 6 pounds this weekend, but I am sure I will have made it back up now!

TGO Challenge base weight and route

We are off for the Bell Mountain training in the morning, so today I packed everything I will be taking to Scotland for the TGO Challenge. Base weight is a nice 12.61 pounds (5.73 kg) this is without food, water, and fuel. Base weight is just everything that is in the backpack, including the backpack, that will be with me the entire time.
I still have to decide if I am taking a fleece pullover this year. In wet cold weather a fleece is a nice luxury to have (9.2 ounces)

The forecast calls for rain and more rain this weekend, so hopefully we will get it all over with and have beautiful sunny weather in Scotland!

More TGO Training April 11-12, 2014

With 26 days to go it was time for some real world practice. I packed the pack with 24 pounds (more than I will carry) and went out to do my local trail (Lost Valley) for some real training. I did the 9 miles loop twice, once each day and kept a 3 mph pace. 18 miles in 6 hours, not bad for a shake down walk. I was testing whether the iphone would be a good enough camera to take and save some weights on the trip, so the first 3 or 4 pictures are from my iphone 4S. The answer is no, I will take my phone as it has the GPS on it and also the Landranger app to send location beacons, but the camera has to come for better pictures and any movie moments.

 Spring is trying its best to start up around town. Water is flowing and green is starting to push through

 more of the old mining operation and roads that used to be on this property during WWII

Red Buds are blooming 

 Primrose (above) 
Dogwoods are also blooming (above and below)

Periwinkle (above) 
 Old trail bridge

Slow moving friend (above)
 Trail lined in green (above) 

African Violets, I think (above) 
Trail lined with Daffodils, just about to open

Beaver Pond on the way out.

The first two days in Scotland are the toughest for this year, both days are 9 miles each but cover up to 2100 feet in elevation. I should have the entire route posted by next week or the week after as Vicky and I are taking our traditional Bell Mountain pre-hike next weekend to go close to the highest point in Missouri for more training and a night out so she can test all her gear.

2 Days On The Berryman Trail Loop March 20-21 2015

The plan was simple, go to the Berryman Loop, which is a 24 mile multi-use trail in central Missouri and take 3 days to do it. 10 miles, 10 miles, 4 miles (out early Sunday morning) the temps were suppose to be in the low 60's in the day and mid 40's at night. This would be another good warm up for the TGO challenge coming in May. Eric and Bob were going to drive over on Thursday and I would meet them at the trail head on Friday morning as I needed to get back from being at work in Chicago this week, and we would hit the trail by 9 am. 

 I arrived at 8 am and sorted out some of my gear while the guys got things ready from their camp the previous night

The forecast wasn't quite accurate for today. It had rained the previous night and the temperature when I arrived was a wet and cold 38 degrees
 But the trail was calling me, so off we went into the woods

Spring is starting to uncover in Missouri and the trailside had some early signs of green

Eric (above) and Bob (below) moving over some water and down the trail
 more signs of spring

 a rest stop at Brazil Creek Campground (a horse camp as this trail is used heavily by horses and mountain bikers)

The day brightened by late afternoon, but remained chilly all day.
 about 10.5 miles and we find a very nice area to hang the hammocks. Mine a traditional gathered end I made and Bob and Eric have Warbonnet Ridgerunners Bridge style hammocks

 Bob cleared an area and made a very nice little fire to take the chill off. it was just the right size and in the morning we returned the area to its original state, no one could tell we were even there.

the evening sky went all fire red just before sunset 
 Morning of Saturday March 21st "Happy 1st Day Of Spring" from the Hammock

The temperature was rising today and it was a very nice day even as we woke up temps were in the 40's and rising.
with the rising temperatures the trail thaws out and you can really see the damage done by horses when the use a wet trail.
 we started our hike counterclockwise going on the non Ozark Trail side to start, but at about mile 12 you come to the south section of the loop used as part of the official Ozark Trail.

interesting rock outcroppings
 What a difference a day makes- down to shorts and a T-shirt on the trail today

The sun was bright and the temperatures got into the 70's a great day for walking

 Bob and I reached Beecher Springs (a natural spring) where we sat down to wait for Eric. Eric was using new boots for this hike in anticipation of using them next week on his 185 mile attempt of a thru of the Ozark Highland Trail 
 He had gotten some bad blisters today and had needed to stop several times to address them. So we used the time to wait and relax and even took a nap!
Several runners and bikers passed us as we waited about an hour for Eric, but it was a great day to lay in the sun and just relax. Something I never do
 After Eric arrived it was decided that he just couldn't walk much further. We had only planned another couple of miles today but that was going to be too much, so we looked at the map and found a road crossing at about 1.5 miles away that we could camp at and then evaluate our options in the morning. Either walk out if Eric felt better or walk the road back to the parking lot (about 2.5 miles) or Bob or I could go ahead get the car and come around to the forest road and pick the others up.

The 1.5 miles from Beecher Spring to the Forest Road had some more nice scenery today. 

Bob and I discussed the options as we walked along and since Eric was really struggling with his feet he would probably take a while to walk the 1.5 miles to our stopping point. I could be close to the parking lot by then so I said I would just go on without a pack and bring the truck around to them.

(above) Off I go on another "rescue" mission 4.5 miles to go to the parking lot and I left at exactly 2 pm.

 I really needed the practice anyway for Scotland so I didn't mind a bit. I covered the 4.5 miles in 1 hr 24 minutes- not bad even running out of water with a little more than a mile to go.

Couldn't help striking a pose after getting back to the truck and getting about 2 liters of water

The road to go get the boys was really only about 2 miles so I was to them before 4 pm (less than 2 hours for the whole loop.)

Back to the parking lot (above) which today was full of cars and then off to Boo's Market in Potosi for a post hike burger and rootbeers. ( thanks Eric) 

Thanks guys for another great time in the woods.
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