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Gary and Ginger at the end of our Berryman Trail backpacking trip (365:083)

Gary & Ginger at the end of our Berryman Trail backpacking trip
Gary & Ginger at the end of our Berryman Trail backpacking trip

What else could I use for today’s picture?

Today was the day we’ve been carrying around additional clothing for. Since yesterday the temperatures plummeted over forty degrees, we even had some snow sprinkles as we broke camp.

For a change we got away a bit earlier – the temperature in the tent being around 45°F encouraged us out! We started out bushwhacking back to the trail just after 10am and arrived at the Berryman Trail head just before 1pm. We spent a bit of time exploring and dallying on the trail, but the weather made for a quite dreary hike. This part of the trail is a lot more uneven with lots of changes of elevation. Unlike most of the trail, this section doesn’t tend to hug the contours, but dives down into the hollows and then climbs up the other side. We were relieved to find the van where we’d left it, and undamaged – as you never know what to expect when leaving your vehicle at a trail head.

So we’d hiked a modest 24 miles (61,000 steps) in five days, our longest hike was day one – six miles, and our shortest was today’s at around four miles. To put it in context, it is possible to hike the entire Berryman trail in one (hard) day. We planned our trip around stopping where we thought there’d be water, and to last out a reasonably time as we had the whole week without the kids. We probably carried enough food and fuel for nine days, and had to carry additional clothes for wet and cold weather, both of which really pushed up our pack weights. Ginger had some trouble with her feet and knees towards the end of the hike, so I was carrying most of the heavy stuff, including extra water yesterday. Most of the time the day time temps were in the high seventies and nights were in the low to mid fifties. Though last night was below freezing and today’s day time temps just a tad above.

All the gear worked fine, the only items I carried but didn’t use were the first aid kit, emergency kit, my toe socks and my Vibram five fingers – which I took along in case I had trouble with the huaraches. However, My huaraches worked a treat, though I need to do something about the foot-bed of my second pair as it was too rough (I sanded them down when I got home and now they are perfect). The dehydrated food was excellent, though we’ll carry a lot less in future. The water filter/purifier, stove, tent, weather radio, trekking poles (I lost the rubber tip on mine, probably sucked off in some mud), sleeping bags (a tad too warm for me), sleeping pads and chairs (yes we took chairs) all worked fine. We had a bit of trouble with the coffee filter – but that is mainly because our cups are too narrow to be stable. We even managed to use the compass to fix our position on the trail at one point. We found that on the high points of the ridges my cell ‘phone was able to get a signal, so at least once a day we could check for messages (there were none). I rued leaving my rather heavy mini tripod behind, and that is my excuse for the the rather lack lustre arm’s length self portraits I’ve been taking.

Before arriving back at the trail head we’d realised that we had made a major planning blunder by not putting any end of trail beers in the van. So instead we drove to Potosi and treated ourselves to a nice thick hamburger. With an end of hike celebration later in the day in mind, we raided Walmart for some scotch, cheese and crackers.

We still have two days to go before we pick up the kids at St Louis, so we headed off to Indian Creek Recreation Area for some car camping. We were not at all impressed at the state of the campsites, they were dirty, unmaintained and looked generally a mess. It gave us a bad feeling about the place. So we decided to opt for the relative luxury of Meramec State Park. What a difference. It probably looks more like a refugee camp at peak season, but at this time of year with temps going below freezing, it was almost empty. Though none of the facilities such as showers and washing machines are available out of season. We found a nice pitch in among some trees, which even had electricity not that we could do anything with it! We arrived shortly before the sun went down, and I managed to get a great picture of the bluffs on the opposite side of the Meramec river as we did a little preliminary exploration of the site.

We foraged for downed limbs, of which there was a plentiful supply after yesterday’s high winds, and we’d bought some fire wood locally, so we could have a huge fire in the supplied firepit and grill. Dinner was a Mango chicken curry over beans and rice. The fire was lit and essential to keep us warm as the temperature was hovering around freezing. Finally, we broached the scotch, cheese and crackers and I ate and drank far too much.

Today’s alternate shots & extras

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