By far, one of the hardest hikes I have ever been on! This trip planned by forum member Disco would cover what is considered the hardest section of hiking in Missouri. Starting at Hwy A (Bell Mountain) Parking lot and going 30 miles to the Taum Sauk Mountain (Highest Point in Missouri) parking lot. This section covers the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th highest points in Missouri. It is challenging in good dry weather, but we would have some of the worst weather you could ever image being outside in for 3 days!
Arriving at Taum Sauk Parking lot the temperature was 35 degrees and raining
We had a total of 12 people say they wanted to show up for this hike but when the day arrived only 7 were at the trail head (Momedic and his wife, having spent the previous night outside decided that they would not participate and had I been them I would have said the same thing)
This left us with 5 intrepid adventures, Disco (Corey), Spiffyguy (Scott), Digitizer101 (Doug), Gideon (Gideon) and myself.
Everyone pilled into Disco's Jeep and drove from the Taum Sauk parking lot to the Hwy A trailhead. We were on the trail about 9:30 am Friday morning
the entire day was cold and damp with not many views because of the overcast and rainy skies
my waterproof camera was even wet.
The day was planned for 12 miles to end at the Walker Branch Creek campsite. But at the 6 miles marker we came to Padfield Branch Creek. Normally a small creek that you easily step across had become a torrent. Disco and myself made it across, I have crossed these types of creeks before, but the others were not comfortable with the depth and speed (as they had never experienced this before). The remaining three would search up and down the bank to see if there was a more natural and safer place to cross. Nothing was found. We made a plan that usually the water level is reduced in the morning, especially if the rain should stop, so we would end our day here at 6 miles and look at the situation in the morning.
Disco and I camped by the old homestead and spring just across the creek, while the others did the same on their side.
We cooked dinner right over the side of our hammocks.
I was in the hammock from 1:30 pm Friday afternoon to 7 am Saturday morning. I was completely soaked from the rain and the creek crossing and the temps where around freezing. I already new I did not bring enough insulation in my set up to be comfortable even if I was dry. The only way I was staying warm was to keep moving on the trail. I had thrown in a Patagonia Nano Puff insulated jacket at the last minute and I am glad I did. I got out of my wet cloths and got in the hammock in my 40 degree quilts and spent a very uncomfortable night.
6 miles in 4 hours
Sleeping set up:
40 Degree Hammock Gear TQ and UQ
Patagonia Capiline 2 bottoms
REI L.S. Fleece top
Patagonia NanoPuff pull over
Possum Down gloves and Socks
Mountain Goat wool hat