Council Bluffs and Ozark Trail Hike Aug 3-5 2018

Why do I ever think it is a good idea to plan a hike in Missouri in July or August! Mostly because either I am feeling completely out of shape before Hockey Officiating season starts or friends talk me into it. This time it is the later. The two other Amigos (Cory and Joe) had this idea about 6 weeks ago, when the temperature was lower, to hike around Council Bluffs lake. They had done it last year without me, so naturally I wanted to go. This is a very pretty section of the Ozark Trail area and recently I had been reading that the trail around Council Bluffs was very well maintained and a very nice walk. 

It was supposed to be a one day overnight trip, but as the date got closer it is always the way to try and stretch it into more days. Cory could not make Friday night but Joe and I agreed to met on Friday, hike in a ways in the opposite direction and camp then come back for Cory Saturday morning.
Joe and I met at the Highway 32/DD trail head. This is the start of the Middle Fork section of the Ozark Trail if you are heading south. (The Trace Creek Section if you are going North)
We also decided that this hike would a contest of the which of us could get the closest to SUL (super ultra light) base weight for the hike. Base weight is typically defined as everything you carry in your pack excluding consumables (food, water, fuel).
However we had rules! Joe insisted that we have a real stove, rain jacket, etc. I was using my DIY table cloth hammock on this trip so I knew right away I was not in the running as I am waiting on a new ultra light hammock, but I knew it would close between Cory and Joe.  We all however have hammocks, tarps, underquilts, top quilts, etc. so we are often asked if we can be as light weight as a hiker that uses a tent or a bivy tarp set up and the answer is an unqualified YES. 
Joe arrived at the trail head with a pack weight of 5.11 pounds. I thought clearly the winner as I was 8 pounds for the weekend. 

We set off South from the parking lot at around 3:30 pm, Temps in the low 90's! We first pass the John Roth Memorial. The Last time I was through this section that plaque not in place, as John was still with us. (above) It is a nice tribute. 

I was surprised there was a much water along the trail in early August and as much sustained heat as we have had. It was clear and cool, clearly spring feed

Good trail maintenance along this section the only problem is we were the first to use it at least for the day as we cleared all the spider webs about face height! 

Ozark Trail, our big green tunnel

We made it the 2.5 miles down to the Middle Fork of the Black River and FR72 in just about an hour and found a nice campsite by the "River"

My DIY hammock above with bugnet and Joe and his Darien UL from Dream Hammock below. Hammocks are so comfy to relax in once you reach your camp spot

Joe assured me there was zero chance of rain for the entire weekend. I pointed up to the rain clouds when he arrived at the trail head, but he was still dubious. I talked him into taking his tarp, which added to his base weight as mine was already factored in! Sure enough it rained, but to be fair it rained lightly for 5 minutes and then stopped, but we put the tarps up anyway.

Above I put river in "quotes" because this is the Middle Fork of the Black River, not exactly a raging torrent, but it did have some nice pools of clean water and it is better than I expected it. 

Joe prepares dinner from the hammock

It was an excellent nights sleep. I had brought my 40 degree quilts on this trip but didn't need anything till about midnight as I think it got into the high 50's around 2 to 3 am.  Joe packed up and ready to head back the way we came to meet Cory and head out together

Cory arrived perfectly on time and we all head North this time on the Trace Creek Section toward Council Bluffs Lake. Cory's pack at 5 pounds 2 ounces just above Joe, but later discussions would reveal that they left out a lot of stuff!  LOL

When the sun could get to the trail the wildflowers were very beautiful 

More good trail maintenance over a very low muddy section

4 miles in, you come to the split from the Ozark Trail to Council Bluff Lake trail

Although this section is used less frequently it was still in good shape and easy to walk

More wildflower activity at a creek with good running water. As a rule I only carry with me 1 liter of water (water is heavy) and I can go about 5 miles under normal conditions on 1 liter. It was very hot today, same 90's but much higher humidity and I was going through more water to stay hydrated and keep my core temperature down. 

First good view of the Lake as we start around the perimeter trail

We were surprised at the amount of trash on the trail around the lake and below was an impromptu campsite next to the water (probably from some fisherman or boaters that was a mess)

It was a good break spot so we all pitched in and cleaned up the area

and I dispersed the unauthorized fire ring. 

But back to the beautiful parts! 

About 2 miles of the way around the lake (12 miles total) you come to the main boat ramp for the lake. A very nice parking area with nice facilities
They had a trash dumpster and we were able to dump about 2 grocery bags of trash we had collected around the lake so far.
Come on People- pack it in, pack it out. By the way that includes your T.P. (toilet paper)

We started out again around the lake. 

Our next stop was the beach area. This held lots of promise as it has a concession stand that has ice cream! 

2.5 miles later we reach the beach (Fixx album reference). We all sit at a picnic table in the shade and eat hot dog, soda and ice cream. A very nice rest. 

After about an hour we head out again. The immediate section is exposed jeep trail and it was hot. I have noticed that I do not do as well in the heat as I used to and I also feel like using Deet (which I was for the bugs) makes me a bit "queasy" so I was not happy at the moment

Off the jeep road 

and into a very geographically interesting dry creek bed with a very nice line of gray shale rock

The large pier that juts into the water near the Dam. Council Bluffs lake is formed by the damming of the Big River. 

Now back into the woods for the push around the back side of the lake toward our camping spot for tonight

4 miles to go to reach Enough.

Needed about a 20 minute rest as I was getting a bit overheated but the guys didn't roll me into the lake while I was resting, so we continued on. 

The backside of the lake had quite a bit of wildlife. Several deer just off the trail and my first live Armadillo sighting as it rummaged in the leaves just off the trail 

A complete raccoon that wasn't so lucky

We made it to Enough, that is right this area is called Enough, Missouri, and believe me I had had enough for today! 

It was a beautiful warm evening

This area isn't specifically a campsite, it is a day use area for putting in boats and has some picnic tables, so we made sure to be LNT (leave not trace)

Cory's SUL stove set up with a Monster energy can and esbit.

Nice area to hang. Cory and Joe unpacking

It was a good but not quiet night. The cicadas and the bullfrogs were a super loud chorus of noise that made it hard to sleep and then we had 2 or 3 cars come around the campsite between midnight and 3 am. Teenagers looking for a place to hang out no doubt, of which I sure we ruined their Saturday night plans! Then a boater/fisherman arriving at 4:45 am for an early morning launch.

We were up early to take advantage of the early morning cooler temperatures to hit the trail. Walking through Enough is a beautiful area. 

I have had "Enough" of this already.

The section around Enough has more "ups and downs" as it follows the contour of the lake, but the view as the sun comes up was very nice

The trail is in really good shape here as well. 

About 5 miles gets us back around to the end/start of the lake trail and headed back toward the parking lot 

We scared Mr. Turtle back into his shell coming up on him crossing the trail 

4 more miles got us back to the cars and the giant walking stick that was feasting on the road kill attached to Joe's car

We unfortunately collected another box of trash on our way out, again including a considerable amount of human T.P.
Public Service Announcement:
"This is gross, bring a trash bag and please pick up after yourself."

Post hike tradition, celebration beer (Innis and Gunn from Scotland) thanks guys for a great weekend out.

1 comment:

  1. Your Dad saw a few places he would have liked to fish! The pictures of the flowers were beautiful! Growing wild is always so much lovelier then growing in a yard. Sorry it was so hot, but you all seem to manage very well no matter what. Looking forward to the end of the Scotland trip you will publish soon, I hope.


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