TGO Challenge 2020 Cancelled

With just 45 days until the start of the 2020 TGO Challenge in Scotland, the event has been cancelled due to travel restrictions and social distancing directives for both the US and Scotland.

The Original Message from TGO this year.

Hello to Everyone

Sadly, in light of the developing situation surrounding the Coronavirus, both we and Kelsey Media have concluded that we have no option but to cancel the 2020 TGO Challenge in view of travel, personal contact and emergency provision restrictions.

We are very disappointed as we know how much hard work has gone into producing routes and that this is a highlight of many people’s year but the need to stay safe and limit the progression of the virus must take precedence. We considered postponing the Event until later in the year, but this would clash with the stalking season which would make the Event unsafe for Challengers.

Everyone who had a place on this year’s Challenge will have their entry deferred to the 2021 Event.

We appreciate you will now need to cancel your travel and accommodation arrangements. This is going to be a very hard time for the hundreds of small businesses that support the Event and give Challengers such a warm welcome every year. We fear many may not survive and be able to offer accommodation to Challengers in future years. Please bear this in mind and, if you have the funds available, perhaps consider not requesting a refund and/or provisionally booking for TGOC21.

We are aware many people have suggested they will “walk anyway” in the event of cancellation of TGO Challenge 2020. However, we must strongly advise everyone against doing this in view of:

1. Scottish Mountain Rescue Association’s request to stick to “safe and known adventures”

2. Government advice to “avoid unnecessary travel” during the next few months

3. The Event and related safety support has been officially cancelled

Please remember, you do at least have a route ready for TGOC21!

We wish you all good health and hope the coronavirus does not impact on you, your family or your livelihood too severely over the coming months. We very much look forward to seeing you in 2021.

If you have any further queries, please email TGO Challenge at

Best wishes,

Sue & Ali

Sue Oxley & Ali Ogden, TGOC Coordinator
Newtonmore Hostel, Main Street, Newtonmore, Inverness-shire PH20 1DA
01540 673360/673583 (please note we no longer use

Frozen Butt Hang- Jan 4-6 2020

I have not been on a Hammock Forums related outing in many years, but Joe organized a Frozen Butt Hang and I thought it would be nice. You can never tell how many people actually will come regardless of the responses, but I knew Joe would be there and it looked like a nice weekend.
Joe organized it for Hawn State Park. Hawn is a real gem of a park, probably the best overall park in the state of Missouri, although it got hit very hard with a sever storm a few years ago that wrecked a big portion of it. It has had a couple of fires both man-made and natural and frankly it is one of the parks in Missouri that is being loved to death by the big increase is people in the park and on the trail. However, once you get more than 2 miles from the parking lot, Hawn has a total of about 15 miles of trails if you count all the connectors, it is still one of the most beautiful areas in Missouri.

Day 1 Friday 
The actual hang was scheduled for Saturday night, but late in the afternoon on Friday I drove to the Park to hike in and make sure we got the camping spot that Joe had told everyone about. 
It was a mild day albeit overcast. It was only 1.9 miles to the campsite so it didn't take but about 40 minutes

Right out of parking lot you climb up onto the bluff if you are going on North Whispering Pines Loop counterclockwise. 

After being on the bluff (where you can see lots of damage still visible from the big wind/tornado storm a few years ago) for a short time, you descend down next too and across Pickle Creek

 (Pickle Creek Crossing- Above)

After crossing the creek you walk with the creek on your left with really nice rock outcroppings (shut-ins) and then this gives way to just a flat smooth meandering stream 

Reaching camp I set up before dark in the grove of pines

First order of business was to tidy things up. The fire ring was missing half its stones, I found them scattered in the duff close by and cleaned out the trash and set everything back in place (below)

 It was a bit chilly so I processed some downed wood for the fire. It is said that firewood warms you twice, once while cutting it and once while burning it. It sure does! 

It was only me tonight, so I only needed a small bit for some light and heat as the sun went down. As is turned out their were others that did arrive on Friday but since the hang was not scheduled until Saturday they stayed and camped in the campsite near the parking lot and didn't venture to the site. 

I always overpack on food for these weekends without many miles. Tonight is a giant hotdog and a rice side. 

Temperature got down to just 29 tonight and there was a large group of coyotes I heard twice during the night and a very loud owl, close by, first thing in the morning. 

Day 2 Saturday

I had big plans to get up early and go hike the traditional 11 mile loop before everyone was due to arrive. Joe had posted to meet at the parking lot at 11 am. However it turned the coldest at 5 am and when the sun finally came up around 7 am. I was warm and unmotivated to move from my down cocoon.

A view from the hammock just after daybreak (above) and a view up through my tarp as the sun is coming up

 Pickle Creek runs along the trail and campsite and makes for an easy place to get water.

One of the many alcove and rock formations in the area, carved out by the creek. 

The sun played hide and seek with the clouds all day, but when it did shine it was nice. 

Looking up into the tree tops 

Until everyone arrived, I had coffee, then first breakfast, then second breakfast and then a bit of first lunch, Joe, Michael and Jay showed up around 11:30 am then followed by a family that was new to hammock camping and had also stayed in the campground last night. They discovered that they did not have everything they need to stay warm all night, so they were going back to the campsite so they would have more resources again tonight. 

Later in the day Adya and Andy B showed up to make us a group of 6 total. All was going normally until about 4 pm. A couple from the RV park had gone for walk on trail and while doing some ill advised climbing on the rock alcove pictured early, she had fallen and possibly broken her ankle. 
After some debate on the best course of action we decided to make a stretcher from Joe's underquilt protector and carry her out. This did not work quite as planned as the trail was too narrow and rocky for this type of evacuation. We finally decided the best course of action was to take turns carrying her (piggy back style) the 1.2 miles to the closest side trail parking lot. Andy had run ahead and would bring his car from the main parking area to the side trailhead.
We got her out with relative ease using a lot of teamwork, trading off,  before sundown. 

Some of the heroes of the afternoon, Micheal, Joe, Ayda

On our way back down to our campsite the sun set and we walked the rest of the way back by headlamp.

Back in camp and dinner. Another giant hamburger and trimmings. it was a very good night just sitting around the fire until late and then back to the hammock. 

Day 3 Sunday.

The low last night dipped to 24 degrees. A touch better for a Frozen Butt outing, but I was very warm all night. 

 Today dawned a bluebird sky day, so I packed up early and wanted to get some walking in before heading home. I said my goodbyes to everyone around 8 am and was headed out on the Whispering Pines loop. 

You have to cross Pickle Creek again, it is shallow here but wide. A couple of strategic logs where across the creek and some careful stepping had me over with dry feet. 

The trail was lined with frost flowers this morning 

You follow the creek for a bit this time on your right and then you start to climb back up on the bluff.

You pass a large flat rock at the top of the climb (table rock) and then enter a really nice pine forest

The sun was out now and the temperatures were on the rise as you walk along the ridge back toward the parking lot. I got in about a 5 additional miles this morning. 

It was a nice weekend to be out and I am glad that so many people did show up to the hang, it was a great bunch. 

Pickle Springs Nature Area to Hawn State Park - Cross Country Walk

I actually have never been to Pickle Springs Nature Area before but I have been to Hawn State Park dozens and dozens of times. I have wondered if it is possible to walk from Pickle Springs to Hawn as they both look connected on a large map of the area. I have heard of a few people that have (tried it, or done it) but I could not find any real resources. Honestly rightly so, if you are planning a cross country trek then part of being ready to do something like that is to be able to dig up the resources and research to accomplish it. You need to have the skills to navigate with a compass or a good understanding of your GPS, if that is your choice, understanding of the lay of the land and recognize contours from map to landscape. In a more densely populated areas you also need to make sure you do not trespass on private property.  Cross Country (bushwacking) is travel where there are no trails, if you are hurt or injured it could be a very big ordeal to get yourself out or get help into you. I did carry a Garmin inReach mini with me, as I do on most walks. 
I did find some very helpful resources concerning the later. Adam Evans on the Missouri Trail Hikers and Backpackers Facebook page recommended a website called, this is a hunting app that shows on a topo map view all the private property in the US. You can choose Missouri and navigate to the Pickle Springs/Hawn area and view all the bordering private lands. This app is used by hunters to show access and also to contact private land owners for hunting permission and it is very useful. You can load GPX files to it and also print the maps. A seven day trial subscription is no charge. My friend Joe was available and decided to go with me.

The plan was to hike the Pickle Spring loop till just before the double bridge on the back side of the loop and then head cross country from there.

As I mentioned this was my first time to the Pickle Spring area. It is funny how you can just miss one spot for so long

I can see why everyone raves about the little trail through these unique rock formations

We headed out from the trail and started toward the Hawn boundary. A really nice gall in a tree along the way.

There were lots of deer trails and they alway pick the path of least resistance and are great if you can spot them. Winter is the perfect time for this as the underbrush would be too heavy between spring and fall. 

 We bounced up against a private property boundary going out. I had been advised that a few of the land owners surrounding the parks are "sensitive" to any trespassing, and in this case their boundaries where marked with the appropropriate purple paint on their trees. We made sure not to cross and made a note to stay a bit lower on our return leg. The 800' contour is a great marker for the western boundary with the park. Stay on the eastern side of the 800' contour line and you have no problems.

One of the things I was hoping for and we got in spades was unique rock and water features that are simply hidden by being deep in the middle of the trailess woods. Following natural drainages and contour lines brought us to many beautiful formations 

Relatively fresh small deer carcass. Still with the spine attached and the spinal cord still soft. 

Another large hidden gem, a rock amphitheater

After making your way in the continuous woods you cross over Hawn Park Rd (the only private property in the park proper is a small bit of land on Hawn Park Rd where Pickle Creek also crosses the road.) There is no structures on the property but it is marked as private, so we avoided it by staying well to the East of that area. Another .3 miles later we intersected the White Oak Trail in Hawn State Park. 

This was our destination. The high point on the White Oak trail and a trail marker as proof we walked between the two parks. 

 We had lunch on the rocks in what was continuing to be a beautiful day for walking. 

We started back after about 30 minutes of lunch and decided not to go back exactly the same way, although there is not a lot of wiggle room, we did find an old abandoned logging road along Hawn Park Rd and started back that way.

We even found a very old picnic table along the road. 
Eventually we joined up with our existing track, right before the powerlines, but before that we did, we discovered a large flagged section, as if new trail was going to be built. There was even a considerable amount of freshly cut trees in the area. 
(notice the blue flagging tape) 

On our way back we did find a trig point at the park boundary. 

It was surrounded on all sides by Witness Trees. I have seen this before in the Taum Sauk area near Proffit Mountain when we explored the top of Proffit to camp for the night 

 On the way back, it is the first time I have seen prickly pear in Missouri. There were many patches of the cactus in the area we found 

Very close to getting back to Pickle Springs we found another giant rock feature just at the head of a small stream 

 Back on the trail in Pickle Springs and headed around the rest of the loop.

Overlook at Pickle Springs Loop.

Our moving time was only 4 1/2 hours so we made good time through the woods stopping often to check our bearings. 

It was a great day for this hike and I really enjoyed going deeper into the woods and discovering some beautiful scenery that is only seen by a few who explore deeper into the woods. 

Support Our National Parks - Preserve - Protect - Enjoy