Long Trails Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike- by Liz Thomas

I don't generally do reviews anymore, as so many people have so many opinions what one person finds useful another disagrees. Hiking and backpacking are very personal pursuits, what works for one, will not for another. We all can walk, but we seem to all walk differently.
I can tell you that if you are interested in understanding more about how to hike and backpack successfully look no further than his book. If you have questions or just want to know what the currently "correct" thinking on a vast majority of backpacking topics you will find it here.

Liz Thomas’ Long Trails Mastering the Art of Thru Hiking is the proverbial, if you could only buy one book on how to hike, this would be it!  It not only address’ the question of How To, but also the more interesting question of “How Come”
There are several backpacking how to guides on the market and some have been in print for many years and are rightfully considered classics.  The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher, The Backpackers Handbook by Chris Townsend and the Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide by Andrew Skurka, this book is their equal and then some.  Since most, if not all, guidebooks for hiking have been written by men, they start and finish with gear, an important topic to be sure, but Liz’s book doesn’t get to gear until Chapter 6 and the other guides lack the in depth emotional and psychological evaluation of hiking you get in these 328 pages.
Liz spends the first part of the book discussing the motivations, skills and trails you might consider. Then when she does get to gear, she not only gives her opinion but enlists the help of several long distance hikers to give their gear lists and comments and these aren’t all twenty somethings. They are both men and women and some might even be said to be middle aged.  Then it is off to discussing what to expect on the trail, trail etiquette, LNT and the social aspects of hiking along with some do’s and don’ts. It also is the first I know of in print to deal with the specific needs for women on the trail.
This is a guide book written by someone who has been there and done that. She didn’t start out perfect and is not afraid to tell you what mistakes she made. I found myself reading and shaking my head to the same mistakes I have made, as I am sure some of you will too, but it only makes you want to read on to see if she describes situations that might be avoided in the future. This is all written not in the style of an expert preaching, but more to try and guide you through some of the mental and physical aspects of trying a long distance hike that you might not have thought about while your dreams of hiking adrenaline are pumping.
If you are a first time hiker, or one thinking about anything longer than a weekend, you need this book. If you are an old dog and don’t feel like you can learn any new tricks, you need this book because it is a collection of all your tricks in one place. The book is well written, well-illustrated and supports someone that is doing great service for the trail community.

RV weekend- Mark Twain Lake, MO May 12-14 '17

Finally a weekend without rain and also Mother's day weekend. Everyone has their own family plans. The kids are now out of the house with their own relationships and families and we are alone. Off in the RV for the weekend. Let's go somewhere we haven't been and let's go away from the flooding in southern Missouri. Mark Twain Lake in North Central Missouri. I through a dart at the map of campsites and came up with Ray Behrens. This was a great choice. RB is actually an Army Corp of Engineers park with beautiful sites and really well maintained. it is right next to the Mark Twain Dam and Spillway so it is all part of the ACOE land.
We went up on a Friday afternoon, planning to stay until Sunday late morning when we wanted to get back home as it turns out Emily having her own family now, still wanted us to cook Mother's Day dinner at our house! somethings never change......

He got up to the campsite around 5:30 pm. Now the routine for us is to eat pretty well when we take the RV out, compared to when we just camp. So this means a trip to the meat market for fillet mignon and other goodies for at least one night. This I did and brought home everything and put it in the refrigerator in the garage to move into the RV later. And guess where all the food still is? yep in the garage refrigerator. So after setting up the grille outside I realized we had no food for the weekend.

Luckily the RV is stocked with dry goods, peanut butter, some rice sides, etc. It was certainly not what we hoped for on Friday night, but no one went hungry and I did manage to pack all the desserts! 

We spent a beautiful night lounging and watching movies. The campsite was quiet and there was a nice cool breeze coming off the lake at our site.

The next day we got up and after breakfast, which I did have we decided to take a walk around the campground to check everything out, we like to look at other RV's and also it is usually several miles of sites to wonder around so it is a good morning walk. 

We cam across a little trail- Hickory Bluff Trail and Overlook. it was a nice wide path through the woods of about 2.5 miles each way.
Hickory Bluff Trail 
I bought an app for my iphone called Pro-Cam to help the quality of the iphone. I mostly want to improve the macro photos I like to take without having to carry another camera on the trail, so I am trying it out here. Seems to work better than using the standard camera software in the iphone 6S

a little snake friend in the leaves on the overlook trail 

A really picturesque pond surrounded by Irises

Lily pads on the pond

After our morning walk, which gave Vicky more than 10,000 steps on your fitbit, so it would stop vibrating her wrist! We went the 19 miles up to Monroe City to the only grocery store in the area. We picked up some steaks and other items for dinner and then headed back to the RV
We made a trip over to the ACOE visitors center. It looks brand new and overlooks the Dam directly behind and below the building.

Mark Twain Lake Dam and Spillway

Salt River, directly below the spillway is the source of Mark Twain Lake

They also had a very lovely Vietnam Memorial at the site

A lovely weekend to spend outside
Back to the RV for relaxing. Just as it was getting dusk, I lite the fire and we just sat and relaxed for the next 5 hours! 

Sunday morning dawned, another perfect day, Breakfast, clean up and off to home to celebrate Mother's Day with Emily's family.

Mark Twain Lake just 85 miles from our house and a really great location to spend the weekend.

Ray Behrens Campsite @ Mark Twain Lake

Video for Big PineyTrail Hike

follow up Video

Weekend around the Big Piney Trail March 24-26 2017

Well believe it or not I have never been on the Big Piney Trail, even though at the moment my favorite beer comes from the Piney River Brewing Company , But I digress. I got the invitation from the KC boys that they were going to do the Piney River trail again this year. It seems that they had a slight mishap with navigation last year and also with some local toothless turkey hunters, I think there was at least no banjos! 
So they wanted to try again and I suppose to add to the fun invited me and since Bob, Eric and I already have a history of "interesting" adventures together.

At the last minute Bob could not make it, and Jeremy (Ramen Shamen, who had been on the previous misadventure) and Eric's son Caleb joined also.

We met on a Friday afternoon and headed out. The forecast called for severe thunderstorms Friday night and into Saturday. 

The Big Piney Trail is just 17 miles long divided into a southern and northern loops with a connector trail in the middle. It is normally something I could do in a day, but it is deceptively strenuous with lots of little ups and down and besides taking two nights makes it more fun in the woods.

The Trail has three access points. Roby Lake (which we started from), Paddy Creek Recreation area and a horse camp parking lot at about the mid way point.
This area is in mid-Missouri, about 25 miles south of Ft Leonard Wood and Waynesville, MO
Roby Lake is surrounded by open prairie land 

The plan was to go about ten miles in today, go just 5 miles tomorrow and then just have 2.5 miles ish to get out on Sunday morning...

Half the Paddy Creek Wilderness sign greets you now as you enter the loop 

 The trail does have a reputation, if you read the blogs, of getting people lost. The old signage certainly does not help

Spring is surely on the way 

 It has been wet so far this spring and the creeks and springs were all running with lots of water.

Jeremy looking over one of the small spring crossing

The rock formations are really great in this area. Very similar to Elephant Rocks State Park with unique fracture lines

 more spring flowers peeking out

Found what looked to be a deer pelvis along the trail.

Jeremy thought it would make a good Gladiator helmet and it did! Good Look...

Nice twisted tree trunk along the trail 

More granite strewn along the trail

stock pond along the trail. a lot better places for water today fortunately 

 dry trail

backcountry bidet? 

Probably because of the many notices about the trail being hard to stay on, there were new signs up all over the trail pointing the way... to be honest they still need some at a few trail junctions and some better wording would be nice... However if you can read a map and know what those contour lines mean you don't really have much issue

some nice pine forest areas 

more spring time 

 The trail goes go over several ridge lines with some good views

We took advantage of hitting the paddy creek campground around 6 pm. and decided to take advantage of their facilities include picnic tables and real toilets 

My hammock all pitched for the night. 

Paddy Creek 

It really stormed last night... lighting flashing and some of the hardest rain I have ever camped out in... I stayed warm and dry in the hammock under the tarp, but the rain did splash in on my underquilt, but I was using my 20 degree set, not knowing how cold it was likely to get and I am glad I did.

Day 2- packing up and breakfast time

Paddy Creek low water bridge, no water the day before, but plenty this morning. 

 you climb a bit coming out of the campsite to a really nice overlook of the creek

 stunning green moss and lichen on the ground

the rocks in this area look like building blocks. nice cave in the middle

 Turkey tail fungus growing on a log 

Day 2 had some good flat bits of trail 

 a disturbing discovery. We found a dead turkey, but on closer inspection this was a dump site for all kinds of animal carcasses. We are not sure if this was an area the highway department uses for dumping animals killed on the road, which is right next to the trail, or someone is illegally killing animals and dumping them

Bones of many different animals 

more bones from a canine animal
back on the trail Jeremy photographing a large waterfall 
 The waterfall

An old homestead well, now long filled in

Homestead Chimney- all that is left of the house 

Getting to camp on Day 2. it was only about 1 pm, but this was where everyone wanted to stop. It is a very pretty overview high on a ridge

good view 

nice view from the hammock-it started to rain just as I finished setting up the hammock, perfect timing. It only rained till about 7 pm, but it was cold and bit windy, so I stayed in the hammock for about 16 hours until 6 am the next morning ! very relaxing

Day 3 was just a 2.5 mile walk out, but more little water pour offs on the way out.

nice pine forest and flat trail mostly on the last bit of walking

A great couple of days in the woods, despite the rain. Paddy Creek area is definitely a lovely place to hike and camp. Raccoon tracks as we were leaving the wilderness boundary gate. 

The crew successfully complete the 17 mile loop
L-R (Caleb, Craig, Jeremy, Eric) we missed you Bob.
Thanks guys for letting me tag along 

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