Journal: Searching for springs at Hercules Glades Wilderness, February 2021

  • Pole Hollow Cairn (it’s behind me)

    Photograph of Gary Allman in front of the Pole (Pete) Hollow Trail cairn, Hercules Glades Wilderness, Missouri. February 2021.
    Pole Hollow Cairn (it’s behind me) – and a picture of my new mustard-colored merino wool base layer top too. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    The weather seems to be doing a better job of keeping me off the trails in 2021 than COVID-19 did in 2020. I could have got out last week, but the ground was covered in snow, and I didn’t have any suitable footwear. So, (a) I ordered some footwear. Hopefully, I’ll not be caught out again, and (b) I had to wait another week before getting out on the trail. Even worse, I had a work event booked for Saturday morning, so it was going to have to be a short overnight trip, with, surprise, surprise, a lot of rain in the forecast.

    I packed my backpack Friday night and I was ready to go as soon as I got changed after our training event finished. That almost worked. But before I could get on my way I had to dump a load of Amazon boxes at the recycling facility here in town.

    With the lack of time and the fact I wanted to get some miles under my feet, I decided that (yet) another trip to Hercules Glades was going to be in order. Only this time, despite the late start, I was going to hike in six miles and then go off in search of a spring I had noticed marked on the map. The spring was a good way from the main trail, and it looked to be in a fairly steep location (it was), but I figured I could find a camping spot nearby (I did).

    The day had started sunny, but I knew I had a six-mile race against the rain which was forecast to arrive around five p.m. And I didn’t start my hike until two p.m.! In a repeat of several of my recent trips, it was time to ‘pour on the coal’ and get moving. I made excellent progress, by 5 p.m. I had found my campsite, and I put my tarp up to provide shelter against the coming rain. After that it was just the usual setting up camp chores of collecting water, finding a tree to hang my food bag from, and setting up my hammock.

    This picture was very taken very hastily. Not because I was in a hurry, but because as I was taking it, I heard voices coming up the Pole (Pete) Hollow Trail. I grabbed the photo and scampered off as quickly as possible to avoid having to meet the hikers.

    Have I mentioned that I don’t like meeting people on the trail and that I backpack to get away from people? Yeah, I thought I might have mentioned that a few times before.

  • An evening visitor and more clumsiness

    A peeper (frog) sitting on the strap of a Luna sandal.
    My friend for the evening – Apparently this little peeper didn’t want to stay out in the rain. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I was sitting in my hammock thinking about preparing dinner when I felt some water splash on my foot. It was raining hard, but I was nice and dry, and I thought it a bit odd. I bent down to investigate and spotted this little peeper, who’d hopped in to join me sheltering from the rain. It wasn’t at all perturbed by the attention I was giving it and it stayed for quite a while. I then remembered to hang up my shoes (top of frame — more about them later) so it didn’t take residence in them and get squished in the morning.

    More clumsiness

    Later in the evening I decided to have a cup of hot chocolate. Nothing wrong with that, except as I sat in my chair, it tipped over, dumping me on the ground, and in the process I sprayed hot chocolate everywhere. So much for keeping a clean camp. I’ll admit, the incident, no doubt hilarious to any onlooker, depressed me. I began to wonder if I’m safe out backpacking anymore. It was only much later that I realized that part of my lack of coordination is due to my glasses. I wear progressives while backpacking, and it’s about the only time I do. I know from when I used to wear them all the time that there is a settling-in period when your brain has to get used to the distorted view they give. For now, I’m going to hope that that is the problem and try to be more careful. In case you’ve missed out on my previous bouts of clumsiness/stupidity, here’s a list.

    • Burned a hole in the sleeve of my new down jacket.
    • Set up my stove in a place where it was blown over by the wind.
    • Fell out of my hammock.
    • Torn a hole in my underquilt protector.
    • Ripped a hole in my waterproofs.
    • Knocked over my stove while cooking breakfast (we won’t mention that I was cooking breakfast under my tarp at the time).

    And now,

    • Sprayed hot, sweet, sticky, chocolate drink over a load of my gear.

    I just hope the year gets less eventful from now onwards.

  • Camped above ‘Spring Hollow’

    Camped above ‘Spring Hollow’ – the discovery of several springs near here decided me on my name for this hollow. It needs a name, as I’ll be back. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    The discovery of several springs near here decided me on my name for this hollow. It needs a name, as I’ll be back.

    There are no obvious water sources along the Pilot trail and on the western side of the wilderness, and the Pilot trail is one of the lesser-traveled trails. This is why I’ve been exploring and looking for water sources, so I can camp and enjoy the wilderness without people around. Down by Long Creek I’ve seen 30 people go by in an afternoon. That’s not my idea of fun.

    This picture is part of a deliberate stereo pair. I wanted to take a stereo picture because pictures of the forest tend to lack depth and just appear as a visual jumble, seeing it in three dimensions separates it all out.

  • Sunshine on a rainy morning

    Sunshine on a rainy morning. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    This is another deliberate stereo pair. The break in the rain was brief but long enough for me to get some pictures and do some exploring.

  • A break in the clouds

    A break in the clouds – and it was a very brief break. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Rainy day

    Rainy day – and it had been a rainy night, the night before. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Old forest road

    Old forest road – notice how wet and green it is. No wonder I found several springs near here. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Spot my camp

    Spot my camp – I hadn’t realized that I had camped in sight of the forest road. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
    Camped above ‘Spring Hollow.’ Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Heating Water for breakfast

    Heating Water for breakfast. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Looking down ‘Spring Hollow’

    Looking down ‘Spring Hollow.’ Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • ‘Spring Hollow’

    ‘Spring Hollow’ – I spent some time exploring the hollow. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Three Springs

    Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    These three springs are all within thirty feet of each other. It’s fascinating to me to be able to watch water appear out of the ground. This is what I’m looking for, secure water sources in this part of the wilderness.

    Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
    Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • All that remains – is a dry patch

    All that remains – is a dry patch. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Gary on the hike back

    Gary on the Pilot Trail. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    All I really need to say about the hike out is that it rained. A lot. I took another picture at the Pole (Pete) Hollow Cairn because the first one was rushed. That said, the second attempt wasn’t much better. Then of course, there was the obligatory end of trail selfie once I got back to the car.

    Day One

    Day Two

  • Gear Test – Sealskinz waterproof socks

    Wet shoes, dry feet – Waterproof sock, and they worked. Now I have a footwear solution for snowy trails. It’s just a shame I didn’t get these before it snowed. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    A couple of weeks ago, we had some nice weather, but the trails were covered in wet and melting snow. I realized I didn’t have the right footwear for the conditions, and as a consequence, I missed out on an opportunity to go backpacking. I don’t need snow boots for the once in ten years that it snows here, but I do need something I can wear when it all starts to melt, but the ground is still too cold for bare feet.

    A quick bit of searching reminded me of Sealskinz socks, which we first tried out ten years ago. Back then we bought the original versions of these socks to wear when kayaking in the cold. They kept our feet warm and dry while getting in and out of the Kayaks. The originals were a bit big and floppy. The current Sealskinz socks look just and fit like an ordinary pair of socks.

    The advantage of waterproof socks is that I didn’t have to buy another pair of hiking shoes. The disadvantage was that they are expensive ($54), but at more than half the price of a pair of hiking shoes, I guess it’s arguable if that really is a disadvantage. Provided, that is, they continue to work well. From what I can tell, based on my initial six miles of very wet trail testing, these should be great for the few times I need them.

    Although it was only six miles, I think the hike was long enough to prove that there were no major blistering or other issues with them. My next purchase needs to be, waterproof toe socks! From a quick look online it looks like such things do exist!

    Gear Testing – Sealskinz. These are waterproof socks. Today they will get a good test on the trail. Copyright © 2021 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    A note about the links. The links marked with a this icon – – are affiliate links, if you buy through them, it doesn’t cost you more, and I get a tiny percentage which helps me offset the cost of keeping this website running. However, please buy from the source that makes the most sense for you!

More posts on Breakfast in America

Scroll to Top