Richland Creek Wilderness Area Backpack and Day hike. 04-12-2008  Pictures at the bottom of this report.  Click on a picture to get a larger view.

I share this to inspire. To inspire Commanders to make their programs exciting and challenging. I believe wholeheartedly that these activities increase the success of Royal Rangers.

7 brave souls for Jesus!

Went to Springfield to pickup one of the boys then returned to Ozark to load up and head to Richland Creek Wilderness Area. Didn't need the 15 passenger van so we took 2 private vehicles.

On the way we stopped to gander at Table Rock Lake letting out record amounts of water out of the dam. Saw the flooded houses downstream from the highway heading south 120 miles.

GPS computer aided guidance system says turn here... There was a county road sign there but it was a creek flowing with about 8" of water... Lets go farther south on this asphalt road. Took the next preferred road the computer told us to take...drove 6.5 miles over rough rocky back washed out roads where vehicles had been stuck the days before to a road that had 2 feet of water flowing over the top of it.. only 8 miles to the campground.... turned around.

Headed farther south using asphalt to the south entrance of the area we were going closer to asphalt... got to within 1.5 miles of the Richland Creek Campground driving over washed out roads a couple spots had to slow to a stop to get over them. Then WOW... a LANDSLIDE was covering the road. It was 10 pm. We were tired of driving the back roads for the past 2 hours so we did what any Royal Ranger that is ready for anything would do. We camped in the middle of the road.. It was the only level spot for miles no one was going to be going through there so we parked our vehicle at a angle to block the road for a safe camping area... Midnight after a raging campfire and a great time of food and fellowship we crashed out.

6:30 am... I got up and stoked the fire, added some dry limbs and had a great fire going in a few minutes. Weather was pleasant and considerably warmer than expected. Down in these valleys the wind couldn't make it down there. It was nice.

I gave the boys a choice. We could backpack in the 1.5 miles with a 300 foot down hill drop or we could drive 38 miles around to the north entrance of the campground... They all opted for backpacking in. So we did. The Ozark Highland Trail at least 500 feet of it was no longer there, it was down in the road. So we loaded up and packed in.

It was beautiful. The boys climbed up on a stair step crag and stopped to step onto the Ozark Highland trail which was right above us following the road. Then to the campground. As usual they opted for the first campsite we laid our eyes on...they were indeed all beautiful. Richland Creek ran right along side of us and you could hear the rapids from our camp.

We setup camp, tents and prepared for a day hike to the falls. Packing water, lunch and river shoes we headed off. GPS and topo's in hand said that way. The other creek that we were supposed to be able to step on stones to cross was under 5 feet of fast water. We went up stream looking for a place to cross. We came across rocks that were bigger than houses all over the place. As we traversed the sides of the creek looking for a place to cross the boys enjoyed the bouldering climbing over the rocks stepping on stones crossing the little run offs looking for a place to cross for a while every foot we went there was 2 feet up and 2 feet was beautiful. A boys paradise. 4 boys running around like a coon dog on a trail looking for that river crossing. After a mile or so of this .it was tough hiking. We stopped to have lunch and built a fire. 2 of the men 21 and 25 year olds elected to go up river and look for a crossing while the rest of us enjoyed the bouldering..then these two came back on the other side of the river and yelled there is a log a 1/4 mile upstream. The boys wanted to cross this they did...walking crawling a log to the other side. They traversed back to us on the other side and we watched them have a great time crawling all over those rocks. After a hour or so of this in was 2 pm and the sun was up and they had been wading at lunch time. They elected to cross the creek with our approval at a point were the water was 30" deep... Pants got wet on the legs but the boots and shoes were carried over their heads. We hiked back to camp. Boys built a fire and were cooking Steak over the fire. Boys changed clothes and strung a clothes line to hang wet articles out.

After a afternoon of activities such as this the 2 men returned back to camp having made it to one set of falls. They kayakers' were busy up at the falls and they visited with them as they watched them time and time again do the falls flip upside down and go down the rapids.

At camp we dragged up a bunch of firewood. Then dragged up a bunch more. Then some more... While we traded stories around the camp each doing some cooking and eating and hanging out around the fire. Commander Rob broke out the flint and steel and cedar bark. and a bow drill fire starter. As you all know flint and steel is a pretty easy thing to do once shown how. The bow drill fire starter took some time. Yet a 21 year old young man cranked on that bow until he had an ember and built a fire and cooked a steak over that fire...later on he shared during the council fire service that was something he was glad he was able to do this weekend.

The night brought in a little cooler air and we were all bushed from the activities so about 9:30 and it was no struggle to keep folk from hitting their sleeping bags. Man I have not slept so sound in a long time.. Sun came up could hear the bow drill fire maker trying to get something to go in the fire pit...after a short trip to the cedar tree collecting squaw wood we had a raging fire going. Breakfast was cooked with many options each doing their own. Some bacon and eggs and fired potatoes were on the menu others a trail bar, others oat meal...

After a morning Sunday school church service... "Doing it your own way" and how sometimes God has requirements he has set using the Garden of Eden and Cain and Able as the foundation... and how since the first born of man "Cain" wanted to do things his own way and yet it displeased God. We are still at that today.

We packed up the 300' drop in 1.5 miles and met a man and his dog that was hiking the Ozark Highlands trail and he only had 20 miles of the 168 miles of trail left to do.
We made it back to the trucks and headed home.

God is good and He is faithful. These boys most likely won't remember much of what we taught them in the meeting times but it's been my experience they do remember the outings and the times they were challenged to grow.

Remember. Bring your own, Cook your own or go hungry teaches character. That is something you can't teach sitting in a classroom. I encourage you to go or take your boys outside the walls of the building into God's creation and show them God's mighty handy work. The boys will grow from it. Always remember. The devil will remind you what you don't have and God will ask you what you do have then step up in faith and watch God move.

Mark Jones