This section of the Mark Twain National Forest houses an abundanceIMG_0392 of natural beauty including: a spring fed lake, a 175’ natural bridge and a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream.  Also here, however, are plenty of traces left behind by prior visitors.  Seeing trash remnants on the trail is disheartening; it takes  very little effort to pack out your IMG_0437trash.  IMG_0412I don’t understand the appeal of leaving waste behind.  The evidence of  inconsiderate campers was everywhere.  Trash littered nearly every scenic area.  Most of the Mark Twain National Forest emphasizes Leave No Trace principles, but it seems Kaintuck does not.  I am considering submitting it for Leave No Trace’s Hotspot.

Now, lets talk about the trip!  Dustin and I left after work and school on Friday afternoon.  We arrived just after dark, with a saturating rain storm awaiting us.  Brooke and Matt informed us prior to arrival it had been raining for several hours.  What is a weekend without rain, right?!  After much debate, we decide as a group to meet Brooke and Matt on the trail.  BAD IDEA!!  Dustin and I walked aimlessly for a little over a mile, up a steep hill against the rushing river that had formed in the middle of the trail.  Dustin was quite agitated, actually downright pissy.  We conferred and decided to head back down the hill to the trail head, all the while trying to get in touch with Brooke.  Finally, we make contact and agreed to meet her at the trail head.  Turns out, Dustin and I walked right past our turn.  To our credit, the sign marking the trail was non existent.

The subsequent walk to camp was very wet.  A boiling creek greeted us when arrived to camp.  Needless to say, it was not a good night’s sleep.  I worried about that creek all damn night.  We woke up in a  swamp with very wet gear.  Good thing we had the morning sun to help us dry out a bit.

The weather could not have been better for the remainder of the trip.  The rain storm Friday night was so worth it.  Overall, a huge success for our first SOLO backpacking adventure.  Now for the pics!

IMG_0379 “The Spider Swamp” Our marshy home for the first night

IMG_0381The culprit of my uneasy night’s sleep

IMG_0382 Our clothes line

IMG_0383 B&M’s clothes line

IMG_0385 Dustin’s look says it all!

IMG_0397 Another shot of the babbling brook

IMG_0404 We shared our camp with several of these critters

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IMG_0419The natural bridge

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IMG_0442The Spring flowing into the lake

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IMG_0448   That’s me

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What a great trip!  Lessons learned:

  • Always meet at the trail head
  • Keep the map DRY!  Never again will we leave home without a map in a ziploc or map bag.
  • You can never have too much rope
  • Leave No Trace is of paramount importance
  • Our rain gear BLOWS!  Santa, please bring me an Arc’teryx Alpha.  Please and Thank you!

My next post is about our float on the National Wild and Scenic Eleven Point River.

Happy Trails,

Dustin & Stephanie

Written by Stephanie Mullins

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