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.

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