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Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Ozark Highlands Trail questions on 02/09/2012 19:44:47 MST Print View

Three of us are planning a week on the OHT starting the middle of March. We plan on doing a very relaxed pace (7-10 mi/day) with lots of breaks to enjoy the scenery, so around 50-60 miles total. We have the guidebook by Tim Ernst. After reading about all the work that has gone into this trail by the volunteers, I also joined the OHTA.

I have a few questions for those in the know about the OHT.

- We have not decided on a section yet, but have read that the area from White Rock Mountain to the east is one of the more scenic stretches. What other areas of the trail should we consider that have good vistas, waterfalls and wildlife?

- The guide does not mention many good places to camp, is there a good source for info on such spots? We would prefer to find places that have established fire rings and are maybe somewhat sheltered.

- Since March can be the start of the wet season, are there certain stream/river crossings that become dangerous after heavy rains?

- Is the water generally clear enough to filter with a bandana and use a Steripen on?

- We plan on bear-bagging using the PCT method. Are there any types of wildlife you have to worry about getting into hung food (i.e. acrobatic raccoons and such)?

- From our research it sounds like the mosquitoes and ticks will not be around yet. Is that a safe assumption, even if it is unseasonably warm?

I will start off with those questions, though there are many more. We would appreciate any info we can get on the area especially from those that frequent the trail. Thanks, all.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman)

Locale: Nebraska
OHT on 02/10/2012 13:25:35 MST Print View

I will be interested in the replies. I have though about doing this trail in late winter/early spring before the bugs are out.

Edited by bwortman on 02/10/2012 13:26:15 MST.

Geoffrey Lehmann
(yipper) - MLife

Locale: deep south
section hiking the OHT on 02/10/2012 15:04:23 MST Print View

My hiking buddy and I did Lake Ft. Smith to Redding in Oct. 2010 and Redding to Fairview in March 2011, and will finish Fairview (OHT) to Tyler Bend (BRT) this March. We preferred the second section, but the scenic views and waterfalls we observed then probably had much more to do with the leaf-off season and available rainfall.

Most stream-crossings of any size had nearby established campsites, and some of these included slab-rock chairs with backrests---very comfy.

We had no difficult stream crossings, though the Mulberry River and Hurricane Creek can apparently give trouble at high water.

We used iodine tablets and did not filter any water, though we chose to backtrack to a stream rather than use the well water at Hare Mountain.

We did not bear-bag and had no animal problems of any sort.

Insects were not a problem on either trip.

We had a great time on both trips, and look forward to finishing the trail.

geoff

(edit: in my avatar I am sitting at Spy Rock)

Edited by yipper on 02/10/2012 15:05:34 MST.

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Re: section hiking the OHT on 02/10/2012 19:45:18 MST Print View

Thanks, good info Geoff. Was March a good time to be on the trail? It seemed like we could avoid the bugs and ticks that way (can't stand the ticks!). Did you cache food anywhere or carry it all? We were thinking of hanging a food cache halfway through or maybe parking the car at the halfway point and shuttling back to where we want to start.

I read somewhere (I think here on BPL) that the area just west of White Rock was overgrown with brambles last year. Have you been to that area recently?

Edited by kneebyter on 02/10/2012 19:46:08 MST.

Geoffrey Lehmann
(yipper) - MLife

Locale: deep south
OHT on 02/10/2012 21:09:33 MST Print View

We thought March was a good time last year for the center section of the the trail, and though it was a little warmer than normal had no insect issues at all. Compared to the western section we did the previous fall, we had plenty of water and the lack of leaf cover made the views much better.

We will complete the eastern section this March, if that is of relevence.

As our maximum time out was 6 nights, we carried all food and did not resupply, averaging about 12 miles a day. We used a shuttle service through Turner Bend, and recommend their sandwiches, as well.

The section of trail west of White Rock Mountain, and a little to its east, was heavily overgrown in briars when we crossed it in the fall of 2010, following overstory die-off due to the red oak borer. The OHTA can probably give you an update of the current trail status in that area.

geoff

Edited by yipper on 02/10/2012 21:23:59 MST.

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Re: Ozark Highlands Trail questions on 02/12/2012 12:25:27 MST Print View

Thanks again Geoff. Since we are trying to lighten everything up as much as possible to help out our backs (two of us have persistent back problems), we were definitely looking to carry a maximum of four days of food at a time. We figure that there are probably places that would work to cache food, either by hanging or a bear-proof container, but would want to make sure that it would still be there when we got there.

The guidebooks mentions many scenic spots, but were there any that particularly stood out when you were hiking it? Any that had one of the semi-established campsites nearby?

Geoffrey Lehmann
(yipper) - MLife

Locale: deep south
scenic spots on 02/13/2012 08:58:05 MST Print View

The Marinoni Scenic Area is very nice, as is the Spirits Creek drainage and the Hurricane Creek Wilderness, though when we passed through the latter there were a couple of areas showing heavy use and discarded materials. Ernst’s trail guide gives fairly detailed descriptions of what you will encounter along the trail, but you never know how circumstances develop to make an area stand out that might not be appealing at another time or to someone else’s perspective. All of these areas had established camping sites.

We look forward to seeing the Richland Creek Wilderness on our next outing as it is highly rated, but I have no personal experience there.

geoff

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Change of Plans on 03/09/2012 10:07:16 MST Print View

In the few weeks I have been away, circumstances have changed for our hike. I spoke with the caretaker at White Rock Mountain and was told that they expect it to be extremely busy during spring break. She said they had received many calls about the weekend of 3/17.

We were looking forward to seeing that area of the trail, but given that information we have decided to look for a less traveled section to do.

What areas see the least use on the OHT? Are there particular highlights that you would suggest on the eastern half of the trail? Can you recommend a good shuttle service for the area (we have the guide book, but I am looking for a service someone has had positive experience with)? Any BPLers out there want to make a little cash for a ride? :-)

Edited by kneebyter on 03/09/2012 10:22:47 MST.

James Blackwell
(blackwelljc) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Cherry Bend Section on 03/12/2012 19:07:46 MDT Print View

If your are wanting to get in about 50 miles the section between Cherry Bend and Ozone gets little use. You can cache food near Arbaugh trailhead or Lick Branch. I've hung food and left bike at trailheads and had no problems. Geoff is right about the stream crossings but we are allready getting some ticks here in Oklahoma so you may want to spray your clothes. I don't have any knowlege of shuttles but was planning to head to Turner falls sometime to backtrack the Buffalo River Trail. Hope this is some help.

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Re: Cherry Bend Section on 03/15/2012 12:07:00 MDT Print View

Thanks James. We were looking at starting at Arbaugh or the trailhead just to the west of there and ending somewhere at, or just east of, Big Piney. I notice there has been a lot of rain lately, so we are kind of wondering what the Mulberry crossing will be like. and the mosquitoes!

James Blackwell
(blackwelljc) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Mulberry crossing on 03/15/2012 17:28:12 MDT Print View

The only difficult crossings I've had have been Richland creek and Hurrican creek. Both of these became rivers after hard rains. Of course I was also solo and didn't take any chances. Mosquitoes were never a problem early in the season. If you cache your food do it a little off the trail head. I used a painted plastic bucket hung in the trees. If you are starting during weekend I might be able to shuttle you all. Enjoy your trip.