Dec 18, 2010Our First Wilderness Hike

Lunch at Long Creek Falls. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

If we were going to give backpacking a try we thought it might be an idea to visit a wilderness first and discover what we were letting ourselves in for.

MDC and Springfield Nature Center run some organized wilderness hikes, so we put our name down for one, and thanks to a couple of late cancellations, there was room for us to go. Not only was it our first wilderness hike, but our first group hike too.

We started off early in the morning and the temperature was 24°F. It warmed up into the mid-forties during the course of the day, but as we were to discover, the creek remained frozen in places.

We started from the Hercules Glades, Coy Bald Trailhead, heading east past Coy Bald and out for our first views of the Glades after which Hercules Glades is named.

Our first stop at the top of Coy Bald looking over toward Lower Pilot Knob (the tallest of the hills in the distance). The knob is also in the Wilderness area, which gives some idea of its size. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

It’s a three-ish mile hike down to Long Creek, and there we ignored the trail and hiked west along the creek to the falls. The creek was dry, but condensation on the rocks made for a very slippery hike.

Long Creek. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

We stopped at the Falls for a break and to eat lunch.

Lunch at Long Creek Falls. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Lunch over we hiked up Rock Spring Trail, with a quick diversion to visit Rock Spring. I wish I had paid more attention at the time as it took me ages to re-discover Rock Spring. Dropping back down to Long Creek we took some time to admire the creek with water in it.

A short pause to look at the ice and the creek with water in it. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
A short pause to look at the ice and the creek with water in it. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

We then crossed the creek, and before climbing the 200′ back up to the trailhead, we stopped to rest and admire the nearby bluffs.

This bluff was near the end of the hike, giving us an opportunity to catch our breath before climbing up 200′ high slope to get back to the trail head. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
This bluff was near the end of the hike, giving us an opportunity to catch our breath before climbing up 200′ high slope to get back to the trailhead. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
Frozen Creek. Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

We had a great time and was reassured that hiking in the wilderness was not too difficult even for newbies like us. Despite the low temperatures we were comfortable and didn’t have too much trouble with the 6.3 mile hike with all the climbs and descents.

However, I did struggle on the last climb as something went wrong with my hip, which became very painful. I eventually worked out that my problem was caused by my heavy boots. It was this discovery that led me to barefoot hiking.

As for group hiking, it’s not really for me. There was so much noise and chatter you never really felt you were in the wilderness, and any chances of seeing and encountering wildlife were reduced to almost zero. Having someone along that knows all the local secrets though is worthwhile. We’d never have known Rock Spring was there if we hadn’t been shown it.

Our first wilderness hike over we felt ready for our first backpacking trip, and to make that easy we decided to hike the same route in reverse but taking a couple of days to do it.   

Copyright © 2010 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

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