Hercules Glades Wilderness

Hercules Glades Wilderness

It’s Fall now and apparently quickly turning into Winter with the temperatures dropping so quickly! This is my favorite time of year for backpacking and kayaking. It’s also the time of year that I begin to fight my number one outdoor battleā€¦getting a comfortable night’s rest! I’m going to dedicate some blog space and gear testing time during this cold season to the pursuit of a comfortable night’s rest in cold weather.

Earlier this year, I blogged about the Therm-A-Rest Pro-lite sleeping pad, which is still serving me well and a part of my backpacking essential equipment list. This weekend (October 6-7,2012), hiking at Hercules Glades Wilderness, I wondered at one point in the night if it might be worth the extra bulk and weight to have the regular length pad instead of the small. The lower part of my legs and my feet, which were hanging off the end of the pad, got a little cool. I might see about purchasing a longer pad and reviewing the differences.

woman walking in a dry creek bed in Missouri's Ozark MountainsMy friend and I parked the car at the trailhead just off of HWY 125 South of Hercules. After logging our trip at the provided kiosk, we set off down Pilot Trail. With temperatures in the 40s during the day and patchy with rain, we were glad to have on a good system of layers. During the ascents, my body heat really took off and I needed to remove layers a couple times and open the pit zips on my North Face Mountain Light Parka. Then, in the afternoon, it began to rain and I was dry as a bone inside my rain shell. Layers, especially this time of year, are such an important part of your overall good outdoor experience.

The first day hiking on Pilot Trail, Devil’s Den Trail, and Rock Spring Trail to the Falls, we encountered all nicely kept trails and clear intersections. At the “Falls”, although there was no running water at the time, the pools and rock features were really pretty. Below the Falls, there are several well laid out campsites with fire rings. Even with the rain, there were enough rocky ledges along the creek to find dry tinder beneathe. We were able to get a fire going relatively easily and warm up a bit before bed. After dinner, I hung up the food in a tree away from the tent and crawled in for the night. Despite the rain and the mid 30 degree temperatures, we stayed warm and dry in down sleeping bags.woman jumping to reach of hand hold on a rocky ledge

The hike out in the morning was nice as the sun had burned off the clouds and lit up all the brilliant Fall colors that we hadn’t seen the day before. The Long Creek Trail through the creek bottom was a bit grown over with weeds in places, but after a nice climb of a mile or more opened up under beautiful tree cover back to the parking lot.woman holding onto a rocky ledge in a dry creek bank

This was a great weekend hike that I will return to when there is water running in Long Creek!

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