November 10th and 11th, 2011 Hercules Glades State Forest devils Den Trail head. Pictures at end of report! Click on a picture for a larger view.
12 Royal Rangers and friends meet in Ozark, MO at 5: 30 pm and then head out in two vehicles to the Coy Bald trail head.
The week leading up to the backpack was filled with various phone calls as always. Folks waiting on the weather forecast before they will commit. Others call and cancel because of various reasons. It's ways a give and take of who and when.
Video of part of the hike! Topo of the hike
Three days before the backpack we had about 3" of rain so we knew we would see water in places and pools that are usually dry.
I was wondering if the creek that passes over the road going to the trail head would be under water. Only 3" going over it. So we crossed it quickly. It was a full moon but a dark night. At the trail head we saw a RV and a horse trailer and several pickups. Several hunters camp right at the trail head.
We put on our Backpacks and head lamps and head down the trail. The registration station at the trail head was full with no spots to fill out so we found a little white spot on the paper and put down 12 Royal Rangers and the date. Then down into devils den we went. The cool night air was a warm 39 degrees as we descended the 250 foot drop down to Long Creek. We generally camp right at the creek but this time we did a creek crossing and the boys acted like a bunch of cats walking through puddles of water. We made it but a few wearing tennis shoes had soaked feet. About 300 feet we came up on a campsite that was nice and level between a wet stream and Long Creek. It was beautiful. We quickly setup tents and stowed our gear and picked a spot for the fire about 15 feet from the small stream.
All night long that stream babbled while we also babbled and had ourselves a time around the fire. We had hot dogs, steak, hamburgers, French fries, chilly, summer sausage, peanut butter and jelly and fruit and lunchables and Ramon noodles. Even had jiffy popcorn and I got to try making microwave popcorn with out the microwave. It turned out great. We serve a great God whom heard our prayers and blessed us once again with safety and a blessed time. With out His covering I would be as nervous as a deer during deer season.
Commander Dan brought the council fire service. We tried to sing a couple of songs but it was more of a joyful noise. I am sure our Heavenly Father enjoyed our singing and praise just as our parents on earth always smile and enjoy it when their kids perform in song or deed. We had lots of deeds. Boys are a unique batch. Sometimes you wonder if they will ever get anything...and other times you praise God because they got it! They actually learned something or showed they were more than just a bunch of young men that needed to get outside and stretch!
I hit the sack at about 10:45 pm and they said I snored but I didn't hear it so I don't think I did...GRIN! Saturday morning 6:30 I awoke to chopping away at some dead wood to build a fire... you know if I was smart I would confiscate all the noise makers the night before...but let them go...we needed to get up anyway. It was 7:30 before I climbed out of my one man tent. After about 100 of these backpacking trips you learn how to make your tent almost as good as your bed at home. It is possible.
Down came my food bag out of the tree and down to the fire was a good group already in hunters orange. This is a good lesson. It's something simple but the boys saw the practical application. One could hear distant muffled shots from daybreak up to about 8:30 am. 4 shots were fairly close 1/2 mile as private property backed up close to where we were camping yet it was very rugged. With no motorized vehicles allowed in this area the only hunters in this remote area would be on horse back. The boys became religious about wearing their orange. It was good not to have to argue with them about it. Breakfast was bacon and eggs and donuts and turkey bacon and cereal and oatmeal and hot dogs and summer sausage. Years back one college boy brought 2 full loafs of bread and 3 packs of hotdogs and water for 3 days.....he got tired of hotdogs after his 3rd meal..GRIN!
Joshua brought the morning devotion and pretty soon it was 9:15 am so we closed up the tents and headed up long creek. I gave out 8 topo maps of our area and would ask the boys to tell me where we were at and where we had been. Some boys pick up on it fast. Other boys couldn't tell you where you were at if their life depended on it. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking everyone can do all things. Yet in reality it's a pipe dream. God gives each of us various gifts. We are foolish to think we can do some things God hasn't given us a gift at. If you think differently I will let you follow the guys that can't read a topo or a compass... you will soon be a believer...GRIN! It's also a good idea to watch out who is leading your Bible Study sometimes they may take you down the wrong path. I know I have been down that wrong path before...(used to be a Jehovah's Witness) there are a lot of folk that once they leave the map (the Bible) they go down all kinds of wrong directions. Stay with God's Word. Leave those short cut books back at the book store.
Our hike took us down Long Creek which was a bush wack most of the way. Often the rocks were wet and slick and each step had to be carefully considered. After about a mile from base camp we were at Long Creek Falls. It was beautiful Water was running in from many directions and the sound was calming. We had a early lunch and a small fire and then hiked up stream about 1000 feet to the trail that headed up to Pilot Knob. After about 25 minutes at a good stride we made it to the base and then up, up, up we went to the top. It's a ways up. Like walking up stairs. We had on day packs so no one was loaded very heavy so it was winding but a lot easier than hauling up a 45 pound pack up there. I know. We did it in Y2K Dec 31st, 1999 to watch the lights of Branson go out... spoofed again! It was a memory of Royal Rangers!
The young men and boys did a great job of hanging together and not getting to spread out. We headed back down the Pilot knob to the trail we had come in on and back to the Cairn we had modified then back to base camp. Hung out a while around the fire and talked and packed up our packs. It was laid back and we had lots of time. We built 4 fires on this trip fire is a natural at getting folk to hang around and visit.
Backup up the 250 feet to the top of Coy Bald to the trail head. We found several hunters with deer in camp. Congratulated them on their hunt. On the way back we stopped at McDonalds for treats and eats and on the way back to Springfield I was reminded of why it's a good thing we don't have the 90,000 deer running across our highways because we just missed one that ran right out in front of us. They are beautiful creatures and I haven't every shot one..but they are mighty tasty.
I have a joke for you. What do you have if you have a blind deer. I haveNoEyeDeer! The boys thought that was funny up on the pilot knob.
Thanks to Rob, Dan and Tim for the pictures. Great job and thanks for sharing.
Click on a Picture to get a larger view.
To beautiful to sit inside! Take those Rangers Places. The Blessing begins when we Go!