August 19, 2013

Call it a bucket list thing, but I always wanted to campout on an out-of-town job assignment provided all the variables fell in place.  An assignment at a bank in Piedmont, MO, met my criterion.  My criterion includes decent weather, a campsite fairly close to the bank, and a manageable workload.  After work on Monday August 19, 2013, and after a couple of frustrating tries to find the Upalika Pond trailhead to the Victory Section of the Ozark Trail in the Mark Twain National Forest (about 4 miles in off the blacktop), I found the trailhead and parked my car there.  I almost aborted the campout because I only had an hour of daylight left when I found the trailhead.  Fortunately, there was still enough light to find a suitable hammock camp in half hour’s time (Basically, with a hammock camping, all you need is trees.).  I caught the Ozark Trail spur from the trailhead and followed it 200 to 300 yards to where it crossed a gravel road and continued on a couple hundred yards and then I turned left on an old logging road and went about 300 yards in and I established my camp about 20 yards off the old logging road.  The first thing I did was to set up shelter while there still was some light.  After that I built a fire ring in the remaining light, I started a fire, got my radio out of my backpack, and tuned in the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (BTW, the Cards had an excellent come-from-behind win over the Brewers with an 8-5 final score.).  A full moon made it possible to move around camp with hardly needing my head lamp.  When the fire burned down to a good bed of coals around 9 p.m., I cooked a couple burgers, I had purchased earlier after work from the local Town & Country supermarket in Piedmont, MO.  I had a couple of beers on ice from home to wash the burgers down (Can we not be civilized?).  BTW, Schafley Brewing, St. Louis, MO, makes an excellent Brown Ale that comes in cans.  As Ferris Bueller says, “I highly recommend it.”  After the game was over, I got into my hammock.  What’s cool about the hammock I used was that it has an attached mosquito net – a necessity for summer camping in the woods.  I was sleeping pretty well in the hammock, when I heard a pack of coyotes howling at moon somewhere near my camp.  I hit the Indiglo on my digital watch and it was around 2:30 a.m.  Gratefully, the howling soon stopped, and I figured they weren’t coming for me, so I went back to sleep.  Shortly, after the coyotes howled, I heard a buck snort fairly close to my shelter.  Of course, my best sleeping, just like at home sometimes, came toward the end of the night, and my watch alarm sounded at 5:30 a.m. ending my repose.  After getting up I headed to my car with my backpack and washed up with water, soap, and shampoo I had stored in the car.  I then headed to Piedmont to have a deluxe breakfast before work at the local McDonald’s, which was fortuitously located across the street from the bank.

At the end of the workday, I had to go back to camp to pack up my shelter.  I figured since I was going to be out there anyway, I might as well cook a dinner and listen to some of the Cards vs. Brewers baseball game on the radio (they lost that night – you can’t win ‘em all).  Below is a picture of my dinner cooking the second night in camp.  I left camp a little after 9 at night, carefully traversing the gravel road leading to MO Highway 49 with my bright lights on, and I rerouted my trip to Piedmont via the Poplar Bluff Drury Inn.

Upalika Pond

Upalika Pond Trailhead

Spur Trail that leads to the Victory Section of the Ozark Trail (http://www.ozarktrail.com/trail.php).

Camp.

Shelter at camp.

A glade just to the west of camp.

Campfire on the first night in camp.

Cooking dinner the second night in camp.

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