It was the toughest 3-day trip I've ever done. 30 miles of MO's toughest trail in the worst weather conditions MO has to offer. We all made it out alive though, we all learned some good gear lessons, and we still had a great time.
We met Friday at 8am at the Taum Sauk Mt. parking lot, then piled into my Jeep and drove over to the Hwy A trail to start our trip. It had been raining all morning already and showed no signs of stopping. It was also just above the freezing mark.
We set off on the OT at the base of Bell Mt.. Trail conditions were the worst I've ever seen. We were basically wading up a creek flowing down the rocky trail.
We made it about 6 miles before we had to stop at Padfield Branch. It was swollen out of it's banks and moving too swiftly for us to cross safely. We decided to call it a day, hang there, and check the water level in the morning.
Temps hovered near the freezing point and the rain continued all night.
Saturday was a good day. We awoke to rays of sun and the Branch was back to within a safe crossing level. Our situation was looking up. We had lots of dry time on Saturday and got to see the incredibly full Johnson Shut-Ins. We had a nice lunch there near the park store, which carried a nice assortment of ice creams and sodas! (My beer bread was pretty darn good too.)
From the Shut-ins we were forced out to the highway and up the road a mile or so to pick up the Scour trail because the Black River was impassible at the OT crossing. The Scour is a site to see. The devastation caused by the old reservoir rupture, and the new massive reservoir were incredible to see up close. This is a great place to hang.
We were dry, but we had 29* and frost Saturday night into Sunday morning.
Our dry times were over, though, when we started to see the fog and rain roll in and we tried to finish breakfast and break camp Sunday morning. Just as we hit the trail Sunday, the skies opened up. We trudged through the muck and pouring rain all day Sunday with temps again not far above freezing. Snow even fell for a brief moment.
With all the poor weather, we managed to enjoy the hike and the rest of the scenery to be had along this section of trail. We all enjoyed the Devil's Tollgate, the mighty Mina Sauk Falls, and the highest point in MO, Taum Sauk Mt..
We concluded our trip where it began, wet, battered and tired, but we had a great time, the company was great, and we all learned a lot.
Post up the pics guys!