Ozark Trail Winter Solo Thru-Hike
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Jason Schafer
(jjschafer) - MLife
Ozark Trail Winter Solo Thru-Hike on 12/24/2012 12:54:12 MST Print View

In January I'll be hiking the 227 mile main spine of the Ozark Trail (OT) in Missouri. Planning on 25 miles/day for 9 days.

I've read Lucas Boyer's article "Winter's Tone". It was inspiring and helpful. Adam Rothermich, a regular OT hiker, e-mailed me some helpful information about the trail.

My base weight is 11-13 lbs. Not resupplying any food but carrying it. I'll carry 2-3 liters of water (just in case supply). There are consistent waters sources along the trail.

Average high is 39 and the average low is around 20 for the days I'm looking at. Records reaching 60 and -2 respectively.

The trip planning website for the OT is incredibly helpful:
http://www.ozarktrail.com/planner/tripresultsoverview.php?id=385&activitytypeid=1

weather for potosi, mo:
http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KFAM/2013/1/24/MonthlyHistory.html#calendar

I'll have a gear list up eventually.

I've never hiked for this many days, for this distance, in winter in the Ozarks. I've done overnight treks in late November in the region, but not January for an extended period. I've hiked for up to 4 days in summer.

What should I take into consideration for this longer distant hike in moderate winter temps?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Things to consider on 12/24/2012 13:13:10 MST Print View

If you want to do 25 mile days you will probably need to night hike every day. I'd look at a really good lighting system and plenty of extra batteries.

Pack extra food for the last half of the trip because you will be getting hungrier and hungrier as you lose body fat.

I noticed my camera batteries would die very quickly in cold weather. If it's dead warming it up in your pocket can bring it back. Even better is keeping the camera warm inside your jacket to begin with.

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: OT on 12/24/2012 23:46:52 MST Print View

I just hiked the Courtois section last Friday/Saturday and have hiked the Taum Sauk/Trace late last month.

We started hiking at dawn (7:15) and hiked until 6:30-7pm (..23-24 miles, 2-2.5mph varying pace).

Obviously, as noted, you will be hiking in the dark for +2 hours minimum.

The terrain can be rocky and rooty as you know...only a small percentage of the blazes have had reflective material added.

We had less luck finding a good campsite in the Courtois section, in the dark, then we had had in the Taum Sauk.

Water is not a problem, as you already know.

Did you really mean to say you were gonna carry your entire food supply without a need to resupply...???

The nights are getting chilly now and the frost/snow is starting...make sure you are covered into the teens.

I wish I had the time for a thru hike...I will continue to knock off sections this year though...quick dayhike of the Trace section between Hazel Creek and 32/DD next and then back to a larger section(s) starting the Middle Fork.

Good luck...

-Mark in St. Louis

Jason Schafer
(jjschafer) - MLife
Re: OT on 12/25/2012 00:56:37 MST Print View

@Luke
Thanks for the feedback!

Great thought about daylight hours. I'll be sure to pack my tikka plus and extra batteries. And good thought on the extra food. I need to research the food forum here for some good thoughts. Always fine tuning that go-to trail grub. I was thinking with calorie dense foods at 1.5 lbs/day*9 days = 13.5 lbs total food weight starting out. Maybe I'll round up a 0.5-1 lbs. Planning to bring phone and camera, so will be sleeping with both.

@Mark
Thanks for the boots on the ground information. I hope to do my non-daylight hiking in the morning so that I can reach my goal at a decent hour each day. Yep definitely looking at 11-13 hours of hiking each day (with breaks)

I've hiked the western taum sauk and middle fork sections before. Lost the trail once or twice in the taum sauk. middle fork section wasn't bad. I'm hoping the main spine is better marked than portions of the taum sauk.

I'll be hammock camping so finding a campsite shouldn't be too difficult, trees everywhere. The rocky, sloped, thickly covered Ozark ground is half the reason I went to the trees. Planning for temps in the teens like you said. Really hoping the weather isn't too terrible during the 9 day stretch.

I have a golite pinnacle and hoping I have enough room to carry the 14 lbs of food. No resupply is a lot easier logistically. I suppose I could do a midway food stash, we'll see.

Yeah, I am barely able to make this hike work with my schedule. I have this small window and I'm gonna seize it. It took quite a bit to convince the wife!

I'm in St. Louis too. If you are ever looking for a hiking partner let me know. It's hard to find guys interested in light weight and high milage backpacking.

Cole Crawford
(CDC43339) - F

Locale: Omaha
Sumner Hike on 12/28/2012 00:10:08 MST Print View

Have a blast - wish I had enough time right now to do a thru-hike. I'm planning on doing about half this trail in May (6 days). If you could post back about your favorite sections or campsite experience, that's be great. Right now I'm still trying to convince my hiking partners that the drive is worth it. They're based in Minnesota and the Superior Trail (which I've done parts of before) is significantly closer for them.

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Cole... on 12/28/2012 09:08:20 MST Print View

You might want t consider doing the most northern and eastern sections. If you went from Onondaga Cave to Hwy 21 (east of Taum Sauk), or vice versa, you would have 107 miles/18 mile days. Depending what kind of pace you like, this might leave room for side trails/loops at Bell Mountain and/or Goggins Mountain or the Berryman Trail.

It would take in Taum Sauk (highest point in MO), Mina Sauk falls, Johnson Shut-Ins, as well as the bluffs/caves of the Courtois section.

It is also the closest area to you.

Good luck...

-Mark in St. Louis

Edited by buldogge on 12/28/2012 09:09:56 MST.