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Penultimate campfire of 2011 (365:364)

Penultimate campfire of 2011 (365:364). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Today we backpacked into the Piney Creek Wilderness

We were in two minds as to where to go backpacking this weekend. Piney Creek Wilderness, or the similarly sounding Paddy Creek Wilderness. Piney creek has around twelve miles of ‘official’ trails, and Paddy Creek has a twenty-mile loop.

In the end, the weather made our minds up. It’s supposed to get very windy and quite cold, so we opted for Piney Creek with its wind-protected valley trail, as opposed to the Paddy Creek’s ridge trail which would keep us up in the wind.

Piney Creek was a good decision, as neither of us was as fit as we thought, and we would have struggled with the 20-mile hike. The first two thirds of a mile of the Tower trail at Piney Creek drops 350 feet over some fairly rough terrain, carrying a backpack plus 10lbs Christmas excess around one’s middle (that makes 20lbs I need to lose now) made it quite hard work – made even harder as the descent is immediately followed by a steep 135′ climb. The total drop to the creek is six hundred-odd feet over one and a half miles, and it quite wore us out. But at least the trail to our planned campsite by Table Rock Lake was flat – although quite muddy, and involved six creek crossings – fine for me in my bare feet but awkward for Ginger, who finally gave up taking off her hiking shoes for the crossings and just got them wet.

Our hike was a paltry three and a half miles to the lakeside. We found a few old fire rings, picked one and pitched the tent. It was a great spot, and we decided to make this a leisurely trip and just lounge around. I’ve wanted to get down to the lake here for quite a while, as we think it’ll make a great Kayak/camping spot. And just across the lake we could see the potential campsite I’d identified from the air on Google Earth. The locals had already been of course – and typical for the Ozarks there were some rusting chairs stuck in the mud on the lakeside.

We saw several Bald Eagles – including some, that we’ve since concluded were, juveniles. And there was a very big nest.

There was plenty of wood laying around so we could afford to have a nice fire before turning in for the night.

Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved. For Ozarks Walkabout