Overnight backpacking at Meramec State Park Nov 23-24 2019

The three amigos have not hit the trail in a while and all of us were feeling it was past due for some trail time. We decided what was needed was some rather adult camping where we could take a few luxuries for an overnight trip. About an hour from each of our homes is Meramec State Park, a lovely park with both trails, a cave, and RV camping along the Meramec River. It has many trails the longest being the Wilderness Trail loop at about 10 miles total. We would hike in about 4.6 miles to a primitive campsite and then walk the remaining 5.4 out the next day. The temperatures for Saturday and Saturday night called for cold temps down near freezing and maybe some rain or light snow, but Sunday was expected to be clear and much warmer. 

We started off around 8:30am

This was not a gram weenie trip. We set up to bring as many luxuries as we needed plus the promise of some pretty cold temperatures meant we got the winter packs out to stuff. Cory brought a skillet which turned out to be mighty handy. 
Cory has his Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400

Joe with his ZPacks ArcBlast

I used the Gossamer Gear Mariposa as I brought a chair!, a saw and knife for firewood building, my zero degree quilts, a couple of beers, all my food was in tupperware and some Bailey's Irish Creme for my coffee. :-)
btw- I am sure I was over 30 pounds and this pack was great, It didn't feel like I was carrying any weight. 

The day was gloomy and cold, it had rained the night before and the trail was wet.

At one point it even snowed just a bit

We made it to camp, in just a couple of hours and set up our hammocks and tarps just as the sun tried to peek out for a few minutes. 

There might have been some napping and then some lunch of hard salami, cheese and crackers. Then, however, we set about cleaning up the underbrush and cutting up downed dry wood for a fire. Cutting firewood warms you twice; cutting it and then using it.

 We collected enough to have a fire both tonight and in the morning 

We have made fire! 

Cory was first to start making dinner. He had also brought a handy grille to cook over the fire.
This might have turned into "Glamping"

The sun started to set behind the trees and made for a nice evening. The clouds were moving off and it would be a clear and very cold night

Cory's double cheeseburger done! it was HUGE

Joe made great looking brats on the grille over the open fire, but not to be outdone in anyway, I brought fillet mignon and a baked potato. I started the potato in the fire about 30 minutes early just setting it on the hot coals and then I used Cory's pan to put a nice sear on my steak, it took a bit but both turned out delicious. 

Twice baked potato with sour cream, and butter and the medium rare steak

We didn't stay as long around the fire as we might have as the wind and cold led us to jump in the warm hammocks around 8:30 pm.

The morning dawned with blue skies and warmer temperatures 
My view in the morning from the hammock

The sky was blue and the day looked like it was going to be lovely. Where we had camped there was a layer of heavy frost on everything, especially my tarp, which was frozen solid with condensation

Cory continued his culinary masterclass and had an egg, sausage bagel sandwich for breakfast. 

After breakfast we packed up so no one could tell we were ever there, except for the huge pile of firewood we are gifting to the next campers, they will be thrilled that it will be all stacked and ready for them when they arrive! 

Chilly morning and using some orange on the last weekend of rifle season. Not a worry in a State park but you never know....

 We had chosen our campsite to be last in the string of campsites but also because it is directly next to small natural spring. A few minutes down the trail is a cave with a much larger spring that which always has a great display of green all year round 

The spring water was much warmer than the air this morning, so the mist rose off the creek water.

Winter ferns along the trail 

We knew we would see "frost flowers" this morning and we were not disappointed as they were everywhere along the shaded sections of the trail 

A view of the Meramec River as you crest a ridge

Once we got on the southern side of the park it warmed up quickly and was a great day for walking 

Some of the tall grass on the south eastern side of the park 

It was a great day to be out

Open grasses to pine forest, Meramec State Park is just one of many beautiful and diverse parks in Missouri 

Another great view into the forest as we finish up the short walk back to the cars and then off to Cory's for pizza and beer. 

The Largest of the loops (in brown) is the Wilderness Trail on the map below

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