Ozark Highlands Trail: First Backpacking Experience
Forming A Plan
Mr. Yonderlost (Tim), my friend Sandra, and I were sitting at my kitchen table. I was telling them how I had wanted to get more adventure in my life before turning 35 and that I had failed. I knew it was time to take charge and start doing things vs. just talking about them. My family and I had been hiking before but I wanted to do something bigger. A plan was made to hike on the Ozark Highlands Trail the week of Thanksgiving. Sandra couldn’t come but Skyler and Clayton (some of our favorite people/family members) decided to join in on this upcoming adventure.
We decided to spend a weekend on the trail before our Thanksgiving week commitment. I had been camping before, but never primitively, and needed to gain experience. We got to a late start, but that’s okay, we were on trail! Even though we didn’t quite feel prepared, we looked like we were. We felt so excited to be doing what we had spent so much time planning and preparing for. It was surreal…. we were actually doing the thing!!! The trail was well kept and absolutely beautiful. We passed remnants of old homesteads, a section of trail taken over by some type of ivy, and even experienced our first water crossing.
We walked five miles the first day and found the most perfect camp! It was near a babbling stream and already had an established fire pit with stones for seating around it. There were also several perfectly spaced trees for our hammocks. We set up for the evening and enjoyed dinner and conversation around the campfire before going to bed.
It ended up getting very stormy for a few hours during the night. We knew it might rain but didn’t expect the lightning show that decided to greet us. It seemed fitting somehow that our first time ever sleeping outside in hammocks would be this…..memorable. My rain fly kept slipping down as my knot tying skills needed improvement. Luckily, I was able to prop it up with my trekking poles. The thought of getting struck by lightning was scary but the only thing it discouraged us from was sleep.
In the morning we were cold and wet but also felt kind of like we had been through nature’s initiation for us and we felt stronger for having experienced it. We ate oatmeal for breakfast and refilled our water bottles filtering the water straight from the stream. Our muscles were tired from carrying our packs but we were excited for more adventure and the trail was beautiful.
We hiked another five miles out to our planned exit point for the weekend. We had accomplished what we set out to do and it was exactly what we had hoped it would be. Heading home we felt tired and hungry but like we had experienced our weekend to the fullest. We learned so many things that would be helpful during our upcoming hike and we fell even more in love with nature.