A record of my weekend backpacking trips and thoughts on ultrlight backpacking gear and techniques.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Bell Mountain Wilderness, Sept 26th and 27th.
I had heard that the Bell Mountain Wilderness was one of the nicest hikes in the region. I started at the Highway A trailhead at about 8:30 AM on Friday morning.
At the trailhead there is a registration for all hikers. They ask you to tell them whether you saw any wild pigs on your trip. That surprised me because I had never heard of wild pigs in the Ozarks. I found out the next day that the pigs had been let loose by a fellow who wanted to hunt pigs. They have really prospered apparently, living off acorns. I didn't see any pigs on my trip.
Much of the trail is through beautiful hardwood forests that are typical of the Ozarks.
But the real treat of Bell Mountain is that at the top there are "glades", places where the bedrock is so close to the surface that trees can't grow. Some of these provide very nice views of the surrounding Ozarks.
The trail from Highway A to the North Bell trailhead is only 8.4 miles so shortly after lunch I realized that I would be there in just an hour or two so I decided to take a detour. In the map you see that there is a loop around the top of the mountain. I took the left fork and hiked down to Joe's Creek. It was mostly dry because it hadn't rained in a few weeks but there were a few pools of clear water that looked inviting. I stopped and treated some of the water for drinking (tasted great) and then soaked my feet. Then I finished the loop and when I got back to the fork I took the right and got to the trailhead about sundown.
I tried my new bridge hammock (bought from a buddy on hammockforums who made it). It's VERY comfortable. Easily my best night's sleep in the woods.
I enjoy hiking solo. It gives one an opportunity to commune with nature and ponder as I walk by myself. I can sing out loud if I want or I can stop and pray and not have to worry that someone will hear me.
The downside of hiking solo is that getting to sleep can be a challenge because at night is when you really begin to feel isolated and alone. But at the trailhead, where I made my camp, there was a fire ring. So I decided to make a fire. Ordinarily I wouldn't do that because it's not consistent with "Leave No Trace" principles. But there was an established fire ring there so I decided to take advantage of it. A fire is amazingly comforting for some reason. Perhaps the fact that our ancestors went to sleep by firelight for so many thousands of years has made it ingrained in us. At any rate after I let the fire die down I got to sleep with no trouble at all.