RV weekend at Onondaga State Park

I had just finished hiking the Ozark Trail section that began at Onondaga State Park, but Vicky and I planned to go this weekend to spend the time in the campground in our new RV. This was going to be the first real outing for the us and the RV.
We had both been to the park many years ago with the kids to do the tour of Onondaga Cave and see the bats. This is a very well known cave complex in the State.

 We had never been in the campground before and it was a beautiful campground. It is quite large and laid out really well. I had picked a site about half way in and next to a common area with lots of trees. We were well shaded from the heat of the sun the entire time. The temperature did get back into the 80's again this weekend.

All the nights were super clear and the stars were out along with seeing the Milky Way easily from here.
 We walked the mile or so of the campground loop many times this weekend, looking at everyone's set up and just using the walk as exercise as with most RV trips it is just relaxing and eating so we had to walk a lot!
The new RV is a Rockwood Minilite 2503S

Saturday we took the easy trail over to the visitors center to get our State Park Passport stamped. Vicky and I are going to try and RV in every state park in Missouri (There are 52) 

 The trail winds along the spring and picnic pavilion

The spring 
 The park is finally getting serious about the growing population of Black Bears in Missouri
( I love that the bears have returned!)

More trips around the campground and many of the weekenders had decorated their sites for Halloween and there was a pumpkin carving contest in the campground

One of the funniest displays in the campground. Everyday the bear got more outrageous in his appearance. 
Good campfire at night kept the chill away and made for a good time to sit outside and listen to some music.

I would show you the filet and bake potatoes cooked in the fire pit, followed by cheesecake... but there just wasn't anything left on my plate 

The flowers were very pretty all over the campsite this weekend- enjoy the pictures below.

Thanks for coming along. 

Onondaga Cave State Park
80 miles southwest of St.Louis
5 miles southeast of Leasburg, MO. off Highway 44. Exit 214.

3 Days on the Ozark Trail- Hammock Forums Missouri Hang Sept. 19-21 2014

It was time for another Missouri Hang organized by Disco. This time he suggested the start of the Ozark Trail from the Onondaga Cave location to Berryman Campground (Missouri Hwy 8)
We had several people express interest in coming this time, but in the end it was just me, Disco, and two new members to our group Chris (MOhiker79), and Charlie (Bloodyhell)
The plan was to meet at Berryman campground and then shuttle everyone over to Onondaga and start from there and then hike back to Berryman.

Day 1
 There are very large rafting/canoeing companies that are along the major rivers in Missouri. Ozark Outdoors is one of them and is located right next to the northern terminus of the Ozark Trail. They allow you to park your car securely on their property for the weekend for just $5.

 The day started off very nice, lots of sunshine but it was going to warm up quickly for middle of September. the forecast was for mid 80's F and humid (no breeze)

 About 5 miles into the hike you come across the Huzzah River again and you have some nice cliffs and rocks as you walk along the river.

Huzzah River
Squeeze between the rocks

Huzzah River cliffs
 Finally you have to cross the Huzzah and despite the recent rains the river was low and was no problem crossing here.

We stopped here for some lunch and to sit in the sun for a bit.  The watch that I have had for many years broke its band here and even though I taped it back together over the next two miles it fell off my wrist and I lost it.
 After lunch we continued on the other side of the river uphill past the "Bat Cave" and on to the ridge between the Huzzah and Courtois (pronounced Code a way) Rivers

Once up on the ridge it is a nice level walk "except for one big uphill" with some nice views of the two valleys on either side of the ridge.
(above) this is the view of the Courtois River side
 After about 12 miles you come to Bass River Resort, another of the big outfitters along the twin rivers.

We had not made any plans to stay at the resort, but after a suggestion to go inside for ice cream (good call) we all decided we were very tired and should camp near by.

 We had not made reservations and the prices seemed to be rather high, so we decided we would try and stealth camp and see if we could get away with it.

We found an excellent site out the way over the hill from one of the campgrounds that was directly by a side channel to the river. 

The side channel was flowing really nicely with good water and a perfect sound for sleeping

We were able to set up without anyone seeing us and close enough to easily chat. We had the entire campsite to ourselves until after sundown when a group moved into one of the official sites. At this point even if the campground cops had discovered us I would not have paid as the campers stayed up and were very loud until 3 AM! 

 So much for our pleasant evening! But Day 1 was excellent non the less. Chris wasn't feeling well, but with some food, some vitamin "I" and a good nights sleep he would improve greatly for Day 2

Day 2

On day 2 we decided to take a much slower pace than day 1, which was done without many breaks and we covered a lot of ground. In addition we discussed going much further today. If we went the same 12 miles as day 1 it would leave us with 12 miles for Sunday morning as well. We thought if we could cover 16 miles today (and it was supposed to be hotter and more humid today) that would leave us only 6 miles to end on Sunday morning.

 Sunrise was excellent with the mist of the valley hanging on the fields around the campground.

Bass Resort did have some of the nicest bathrooms and shower areas of any campground I have ever been too. But even at 6 am the campers were loud and obnoxious. 
 We were back on the trail just before 8 am and into the woods were we encountered a very noisy (I think he was just horny) Bull.

The remains of any old homestead and grave yard are here as well.

Once again, once on top of the ridge the walking in this section is mostly flat and easy.

We did take many more breaks in the heat and the bugs were also much worse today flying around your ears and eyes when you stopped or weren't moving fast enough.
Tree top canopy (above)

We made it the 12 miles to Harmon Springs (which we couldn't locate back in the brush) but the spring was feeding the creek which had good water so we had lunch here. While we had lunch at around 1:30 pm,  4 teenagers showed up wearing just gym shorts and some in jeans. They had parked up the road from the Spring. They had minimal supplies, no backpacks, raingear, or food. They were going to walk all the way back to Bass Resort, where we had started at 8 am. We let them know they probably would not reach there before dark and we didn't think they were prepared for the walk, but they left cheerfully enough... I hope they made it! 

We continued on after lunch and after a few breaks....

We reached the real spring of Beecher Spring.
The tree stump that looks like a wise old rabbit as you come into the campsite

We made camp at the spring site and had a nice evening despite the gnats.  I had no trouble falling asleep after 16 miles of walking in the heat today.
Today was Disco's longest mileage in a day and Chris recovered well from yesterday and Charlie was just a machine with his long stride and clearly in better shape than all of us.

Day 3

Charlie was up early making a cup of coffee (I could hear his stove fire up) and sitting on his camp chair which was the envy of all on this trip. Rising was good and early and it was much cooler today  than yesterday.  It started to rain about 3 am but was all finished by getting up at 6 am. the clouds cleared and it was going to be another excellent day on the trail.

 The light through the trees early in the morning was particularly nice. This part of the Ozark Trail is the Berryman Trail which is graded for mountain bikes so the walking is good with many switchbacks going up and down the various hills.
Chris was having some blister issues, but nothing a little duct tape can't fix!

Coming to the end of the trail back to the Berryman campground
The Flora and Fauna of this trip was still very nice despite some higher than normal temperatures for mid September. Below is a handful of pictures taken from all three days.

Finally the smelliest Fauna on the trail

(Left to Right)
Charlie (Bloodyhell), Corey (Disco), Chris (Mohiker79), Craig (Skygzr)
thanks guys for a great weekend of hiking and company.

34 miles - 19.5 hours Northern Terminus Ozark Trail (Onondaga Cave) to Berryman Campground
more animals heard:
Coyotes, Owl, Cows, (Bull), Gnats!
Loudest animal of all- campers at Bass Resort
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