Welcome to Breakfast in America

My photo journal is an eclectic mix of things; there’s no guiding theme or topic. It is whatever happens to catch my attention, what I’ve been thinking, doing, and whatever my current obsessions are. At the moment, they are clearing some of the backlog on my ‘honey-do’ list, backpacking, hammock camping, and, I’m always, taking pictures.

Recent posts

  • McGarr Ridge Trailhead, Devil’s Backbone Wilderness, Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri

    Approaching the McGarr Ridge Trailhead. Almost at the end of my hike. Copyright © 2022 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
    Start of the McGarr Ridge Trail and registration point. Copyright © 2022 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
    McGarr Ridge Trailhead. Copyright © 2022 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Looking up ‘Camp Hollow,’ the hike out, and more horses

    Looking up ‘Camp Hollow’ – So called because I’ve often camped way up this hollow well away from the trail. Copyright © 2022 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It took me an hour to get to this spot, about two-and-a-half miles from McGarr Spring. I’ve named this hollow ‘Camp Hollow’ because, surprise, surprise, I’ve camped here a couple of times. There is no water anywhere near (that I’ve found) which is a pain, but I do like this spot, even if it is a bit near to the edge of the wilderness, along with the accompanying sound of barking dogs and the occasional truck.

    It looks (and is) pretty overgrown, but I consider that a good deterrent to stop people from disturbing me when I camp here.

    The hike out was uneventful, and I’ve already hiked all these trails. Climbing up the ridge out of Mary Hollow back to the McGarr Ridge Trail, I met the group on horseback again. This time there was an inquiry as to where I was from. I resisted the temptation to give my usual smart-arse response of “Springfield.” Given the time and direction they were headed, they must have started off at the Collins Ridge Trailhead. This makes sense thinking about it, as the spur trail linking the McGarr Ridge Trail to the Collins Ridge Trail is probably impassable on horseback since the flood a few years ago dumped a load of trees down there. I’m guessing when they left me at McGarr Spring, they went down to the North Fork River and then came back along the McGarr Ridge Trail and headed down towards Mary Hollow. Whatevs, after a quick chat, we went our separate ways.

  • McGarr Spring, and on my way again

    Photograph showing the shallow pool below the McGarr Spring, Devil's Backbone Wilderness, Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri. December 2022.
    McGarr Spring, Devil’s Backbone Wilderness – The flow was quite slow but enough for my water needs. Copyright © 2022 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I had plenty of water for my hike out, so I didn’t need to collect any. The main Spring is located up the hill a ways and it drains down into this pool which is slowly filling with debris. It was a lot more ‘pool-like’ when I first came here a couple of years ago. When the area was inhabited, I’m sure it was regularly cleared out.

    From here, I turned right (down the hollow) towards the main trail and Mary Hollow. I reckoned it would take me a couple of hours to hike back to the car and another hour or so to drive to Ginger’s parents’ farm. So I’d be arriving around five, just before dark.

  • Camp cooking, snow, and horses

    Hot Water for Breakfast. Copyright © 2022 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    While I was getting breakfast ready, it started to snow. You can just see my tarp draped over the hammock in the background of the picture.

    Even with the extra air holes, this wood burner is still smoking a fair bit. I think I’ll draw a line under this experiment and go back to the heavier but better Nano Firebox.

    I spent the morning idling in my hammock, enjoying the solitude, and slowly breaking down my camp. With no intention of setting off before 2 p.m. I had plenty of time for multiple hot drinks and then to make lunch.

    I was settling down to eat some summer sausage and hot noodles when I heard more movement on the trail. This time it was a group of horses. I watched them snake their way down the trail across the hollow from my camp. Instead of heading off toward Mary Hollow, they turned right and headed toward the spring. Remembering the trail blazes I’d seen yesterday, I expected them to climb up my side of the hollow about 50 yards downhill from where I was camped. I sat and watched their progress with interest and then surprise as they headed straight up the hill to where I was camped.

    If you’ve read any of my previous trip reports, you’ll know that I’m totally incompetent at trail chit-chat, let alone passing the time of day with a group of eight people on horseback. However, apart from startling the lead horse by waving my arms about a bit too enthusiastically (I’ve spent many hours in the saddle in my time and ought to know better), it seemed to go quite well with questions about my hammock and the weather, and none about where I was from — it is amazing how tiresome those questions become.

    After a few minutes, they carried on up the side of the hollow, confirming my suspicion that there was a passable route northwest(-ish) from the spring up to the McGarr Ridge Trail. I forgot to ask where they’d started from, but I presumed either the Hwy CC Trailhead or the Collins Ridge Trailhead, and they were heading back via the McGarr Ridge and Collin’s Ridge Trails.

    I finished my lunch, packed everything away, and headed off in the opposite direction towards Mary Hollow and my final hike of the trip.

  • Morning view from my hammock

    Morning view from my hammock. Copyright © 2022 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

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