I took a couple of days off work so I could fit in a three-day, backpacking trip starting on Sunday. My main plan was to sit around and watch the trees, and maybe try and explore a little bit of Mores Branch.
I got here from the trailhead in record time — 17 minutes. Maybe the time spent on the treadmill in our ‘home gym’ is paying off. I wish it would pay off with a weight reduction too.
At least this time I have my hat. I left it on the backseat of the car when we went on our recent Devil’s Backbone trip. The observant might notice that my glasses are different. I left the house wearing my work (2′-3′ working distance) glasses. I didn’t notice until I got into the dark under the leaf canopy. In the dim light I wondered why everything was out of focus. I was nodding my head up and down trying to work out why my varifocals were no longer working. When I took them off to examine them I realized my error.
I won’t bore you with how difficult it is to get the darned very illusive cairn into this shot. You’ll just have to believe me. It is. It would be much easier with a phone than it is with a camera with no forward-facing selfie display.
Hiking in today, I realized that I could attend my meeting the next morning if I could get a good cell signal. There is a good cell signal on the western edge of the wilderness. I reckoned if I climbed up to the top of “Ant Hill’ and dropped down into one of the glades on the western side I stood a good chance of being able to join my meeting via Zoom and also enjoy my time in the wilderness.
I was right. I called Ginger and had pretty much full signal strength.
Cell phone test over, I headed back. Instead of heading due east over the top of the hill and hence down to my campsite, I thought I’d explore a little first. There was no chance of seeing the sunset. The trees surround thing the glade were too high. I decided to head north through the woods on top of the hill and then return via the glade to the east. The glades form a series of concentric circles around the tops of the hills, which are typically crowned with a wooded area.
And that’s what I did. I only found two points where I could peek out over the trees and see the surrounding countryside. The view above, and the one below. There was probably a good cell phone signal here too, as I could see what I think is the cell tower four miles away at the southeast corner of the wilderness.
Yup, it looks pretty much the same as everywhere else in the Ozarks. And very much like the last time I was here, a year ago. This may have contributed to my decision not to sit in camp all day after my morning meeting, I decided to pack up camp and Bushwhack over to Mores Branch, where I reckoned there would be some water and maybe a nice place to camp. Before that, though I had to get to my 10:30 a.m. meeting on the top of ‘Ant Hill.’
This is what happens when you decide to take a (well-earned but) impromptu comp day off without thoroughly checking your calendar.
Somehow I forgot a meeting I had at 10:30 a.m. today. I realized my mistake yesterday and sent an email apologizing for my absence. But on the hike to my campsite, I thought of a way of attending that would be fun, if I could find a glade with a good cell signal. I hunted for a suitable spot last night and found one.
This morning I packed up camp and hiked up to where I could enjoy the sunshine and my meeting. I also took advantage of a good signal to put in a video call to the office before my meeting started. Oh, the wonders of modern technology!
From the map, I could see it was under a mile of bushwhacking to get to Mores Branch. The hollow is steep but there was a point where a ravine ran into the hollow that looked like it would offer a good way down. I had studied the aerial photographs of the area and it looked like this section retained water year-round. What I found confirmed this. There was plenty of fish despite the lack of rain this summer. The water was running but not the highest quality, it needed some good heavy rain to flush out all the silt that was accumulating.
The ravine was filled with jumbled-up rocks and downed trees, and not worth trying as a route down, but I found a relatively low spot nearby and got down to the creek to explore, get water, have lunch, and look for a nearby campsite.
This picture turned out to be one of a fairly decent stereo pair.
And deep it was. I had to leave my camera, clothes, and other gear behind because I was up to my waist within a couple of steps. I wanted to get to the end of the pool to see how easy the next section of the creek would be to hike. When I got there, the answer was clear. Nigh near impassable until winter arrives and the vegetation dies back. It was very overgrown and I didn’t fancy bushwhacking through the dense brush. I’ve done that before, and it’s not a lot of fun.
I ended up scrambling up the side of the hollow to the east (right of frame) and scouting out for camping spots, going in a big circle to get back and collect my gear.
Overall, it looks like my research paid off and I’d arrived at one of the few clear-ish sections on the creek. It was time to have lunch and then check upstream.
After lunch, which I heated up on my new titanium wood stove, I lazed around enjoying the sunshine, peace, and quiet. I’d not found any really good places to camp during my explorations, so I decided I might as well cut down the amount of hiking to do the next day, and return back to my previous campsite.
Before I packed up to leave I explored up the creek a little. That direction too was overgrown.
More ‘hammock porn.’ After leaving Mores Branch yesterday, I decided not to bushwhack up to the top of the hill and then find my way down to Sunday night’s campsite. Instead, I climbed up the side of the hollow until I was at around the same contour line. Then I bushwhacked around the side of the hill to my destination. I hoped I might see something interesting during my hike. Nope. Just trees and more trees.
So here I am the next day, camped back where I started.
Last night was not without a bit of drama, though. I started getting satellite text messages from Ginger on the InReach, ‘Where are you?’ I grabbed my headlamp phone and rushed up the hill to get some cell phone signal. It turns out that in my rush to get going, I forgot to tell Ginger how long I was going to be staying out, and Ginger had forgotten how to ‘ping’ my location on the InReach. All was quickly resolved, and I was bushwhacking back to my campsite in the pitch dark (no Moon). The only trouble with bushwhacking in the dark is you don’t always see the thorns you are getting into. I was dripping blood at one point. I stopped to deal with that, not wanting any preditors visiting me in the night mistakenly thinking they had an easy meal!
It didn’t take long to find my way back, though I did congratulate myself on thinking of leaving some lights on in camp to make finding my way back easier.
I’m having a lazy day. And why not? Until the bugs and weeds die back a bit I’m quite happy to lay here and enjoy some peace and quiet.