Hercules Glades devils Den Backpack November 24th, 2017 day after Thanksgiving.  High of 64 low of 41.  Just a sprinkle at 5 am.   Wind was 5 mph. Perfect weather for a backpacking trip for beginners!   Zip file of all these pictures!   Click on a picture for a larger view.  Thanks to Del Wales and Mark Jones for the pictures.  Lot's of pictures at the end of this trip report.

Topo Map of 30 miles of trail. We did 6 miles.

Then there were Nine

Backpacking trips always start with someone saying "HEY let's go backpacking on ...."  so that triggers a response on my part.  God has given me a gift of a love to organize these events.  In that He has gifted a Ranger Database that now tracks in one small part EVENTS.  Over 20 layouts for each event.  In that I have 322 events over the past  25 years.  It's just a matter of looking up a hike that we have already done.  Changing the date and modifying the check off list just a bit depending on weather and water.  Then POOF were published and READY FOR ANYTHING!

This trip started out with about 15 on the list to go.  Then medical things happened, other responsibilities and unexpected trips come up normal stuff all very real and in most cases more important than loading up boys and taking them backpacking.  YET o did those that not go miss out on a very neat trip. 

Del Wales from Life 360 emailed a few weeks out.  Can I bring some Discovery age boys?  Will this trail be good for them?  It was a resounding YES!  Little did I know at the time this group of 2 leaders and 5 boys and I would have one of the best backpacking trips into the heart of devils den at Long Creek. 

The ADVENTURE began at 5:45 pm when we left my house heading out in the DARK for Hercules Glades.  Soon we were winding the back roads near Kissie Mills and then Cross Timbers Road.  Then it turned into gravel and we drove across a low water bridge that had 4" of water running across it  Then up around a corner that was so bump that we had to take a second run at it.  Soon we were at Coy Bald trail head.  We still had cell signal there.  A call was made and we found Adam and his son not far behind us so we waited for them to arrive.  Boys practiced their fire craft skills in a mud hole.  Then we all went down down down to Long Creek 1/2 mile to base camp next to a creek with a cliff face in the background.

Long Creek Falls

Long Creek Falls


Base Camp


Tents went up and gear was stowed.  Then the quest for firewood.  It took us about 30 minutes to drag up wood from as far as 500 feet away. This is a popular camping spot so the firewood is pretty scarce.  Soon the boys had a raging fire using a metal match and some tp paper.  

Food was consumed in mass quantities.   I bought a military 3 fuel pack and stove for 2.00 from the surplus store.  It's made to wrap around a military mess kit canteen sized base and empty the gel on the ground and sit the stove over that.  It would have worked fine but had no military gear.  So I adapted and just about lost my soup a couple of times.  Then gave up on the stove and found two flat rocks and used that that as a pot stand while the gel did it's cooking job.

After the Council Fire Service we hit the sleeping bags early 10:30 pm.  Through the night I heard Coyotes yapping several times nearby and far away.  Del heard a grunt from a deer.  The snoring kept the camp free and clear of varmints of all sizes. 

Our day started early.  Del was up tending fire at 5:00 am.  I soon was out with him and BAM the rest of camp was out by 5:45 am..NO late sleepers in this group.

With the fire raging and water needed for filtering Kayden took on the task to refilling the dirty water bladder for filtering.  He put on his swimming suit and t-shirt and the boys followed him down to the river as they were on a approved quest for WATER!  One of the boys dared Kayden to jump in and go completely  under water/ Kayden did so at 6:15 am and 41 degrees outside.  Wow.  Soon we were all around the fire laughing and having a great time.  Moring devotion used my day pack contents as part of the devotion. 

8:15 am we left camp early practicing map skills the whole way.  Stopping at every trail crossing to have the boys show us on their maps where we were at.  Some are good at this and others are not.  Some are leaders and some are not.  If you pick a person that is not good at reading maps as your trail guide soon your lost and a valuable lesson learned,  not everyone is a good leader.  Choose them WISELY! 

With our early start we took the trail up to Long Creek Falls.  A nice 2.5 mile walk up thorough the woods.  Boys grow bored of woods walking quickly.  We were now at Long Creek Falls.  We ate lunch explored around.  Climbing over rocks dangling feet, wading the water hole.  This is a focal point and the center point of the Hercules Glades.  Rarely have I been to this point and not saw other folks.  We had it all to ourselves for most of the time we were there.  After we had eaten and had 2 fires going.  Boys had their own fire that Broc started.  As we left a man and lady showed up.  We scampered the Long Creek all the way back to base camp.  Folks the ADVENTURE begins when we leave the walls of the classroom.  These boys had a great time.  They learned a lot and the challenges they faced will help them in greater ways as they grow. 

Johnnie Barnes created a great system that works.  We just have to die to our flesh and take these boys outside.  I know it's allot easier to sit at home and die of heart disease.  YET the rewards this kind of stuff brings forth is why Johnnie Barnes wrote this article on "Why Camping"  We experienced those rewards this trip

Live the Adventure.  We talk about it in the classroom.  Yet to live it we must go outside!

Mark Jones