It had been over two months since I was last on a good trail and I picked up where I left off on New Year’s Eve at mile marker 99.5 on the OHT. I got out of work at noon on a Friday and pointed my truck down Hwy 16, down 7 and then up 123 at Pelsor. The weather was really beautiful and I couldn’t ask for better at this time of year. I enjoy the drive out through this part of the country. Everything seems so spread out and far from the next thing. There is a little church here or there but beyond that even gas stations are hard to come by after a bit. Meanwhile the drive twists and turns, rises and lowers over the hills and scenic beauty of the Ozarks. It always makes me smile when in the middle of seemingly nowhere I run across a quilt or craft store, with advertising billboards and all. Of course this is way out here in the boondocks. No grocery. No gas. No schools. But hallelujah we have a craft store and how would we survive without it.
I pulled onto the dirt roads that led to 99.5 on the OHT around 4pm. A note to those using the guidebook out there. This road is marked on the guidebook and most other maps as FR 1003 I believe. This is no longer accurate. I think the correct road number is 5447. Even if that is wrong though it has two entrances, an east and west entrance, with a little island in between them where some drilling trucks were parked when I drove through. It is easy to find but not if you’re looking for 1003.
The weather has been beautiful around here and what with Christmas wish list items being found under the tree it was time for another hike, and this time a hike like no other. I looked at the sections that lay immediately ahead of me and saw that section 4 of the Ozark Highlands is one of the longest on the trail at almost 30 miles from Lick Branch to Ozone. I did the math and figured at a good pace that was a two day hike for me, packed full of fast walking with 15 miles per day. I talked to some friends and they were interested in meeting me for section 5 at Ozone so I figured why not really go for it and add on another 20 miles with an aim of 50 miles total in four days. (more…)