Saturday, March 19, 2011

Backpacking for Beginners

Michael, Renee, Jerry, Brandon, Matthew, Bryan,
Amanda, Kim, Kent, Gillian, Ramona, me & Bob.
(Larry is hidden behind Gillian's pack, we think)
   I've been taking a beginners backpacking course through our local Sierra Club, which starts with two 4+ hour classroom sessions and culminated in a 2-day/2-night backpacking trip in the Mark Twain National Forest near Rolla, MO to test out our skills. The classes were taught by Paul & Melody Gross, and Bob, Bryan O & Renee A (yay!) led the trip. Both facets were fun and VERY informative! We were lucky to have a great group of 11 students join the trip; all were friendly and easy-going, helpful and willing to share gear and knowledge, and just plain fun. No whiners! Perfect.
   We met at the Blue Springs Commuter Lot and consolidated into just 4 cars. We drove through Columbia, stopping for a group lunch at Quizno's (while Kobe sushi was calling my name! I ate at Osaka last time I was in Columbia, and it was EXCELLENT!)
   We parked and hiked to our campsite at the 175-foot long natural bridge/cave on Kaintuck Hollow Trail, nestled in an oak forest interspersed with hickory, cedar, dogwood and pine. Although Spring had not yet sprung (the first day of Spring is March 20), the trails were still pretty and there was plenty to see. The hike in was less than 1.5 miles. We decided to set up camp once and hike out for day trips, to keep things simple.
The Grocery Getter considers its options
Jerry & Michael say, "Too deep! Turn back!"
Unloading the cars & loading our backs
Loaded up with 1/4 of my own weight on my back!
Kent & Bryan cross the icy cold creek
Yay! Crossed the creek! (Thanks to Michael for loaning his water shoes)
Renee & Matthew