At Sam A. Baker State Park in Patterson, MO.
We woke up at 6am Friday to get an early start. We had a 2 hour drive ahead of us and I am not a morning person! I wanted to be on the road no later than 7 so we left at ten ’til since we had to stop for gas first.
Usually when we leave for hikes I put my boots in the back of the Subaru and ride to the location with no shoes on to give my feet more time to breathe before I torture them! This particular morning I was going over my list obsessively and made sure 3 times we were packed and loaded that I overlooked one of the most necessary pieces of equipment I needed.
B looked down at my feet about ten minutes in to the drive and said, “Did you grab your boots?” And I panicked. I COMPLETELY forgot them!! We had to turn around and go back home.
Thankfully my normally unobservant husband was quite the opposite, because if we had been halfway or more there, I would be so mad at myself for being so forgetful. We officially got on the highway by 7:30. Better late than never!
The drive down was sunny and 75 consistently. When we hit our destination at 9:40 it was already about 87. We hit up the rustic bathrooms before heading out on the trail. I registered at the trailhead and in we went, ready or not.
This trail is 16.75 miles in full starting at the equestrian trailhead. We had no clue where to begin! I looked relentlessly for tips, posts, photos and more on this park and couldn’t find anything remotely close to what I needed. Thus here we are! I plan to explore this trail multiple times and take different routes so that I can fulfill anyone else’s curiosities that may be looking into backpacking here.
Now, we had every intention of completing the entire 16.75 miles, going in clockwise and doing a portion on day one, and then the rest on the way back to the car. Soon after we started hiking we were overcome with sweat and the looming possibilities of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. We only did about 5 miles of the orange and yellow blazes combined before coming upon backpacking campground 2 and deciding it was in our best interests and safety to stop for the day.
97 degree weather with nearly 80% humidity is no joke. If it weren’t for tree cover, we easily could have been in a more dangerous situation. While we were well aware and prepared for the weather, it still caught us off guard.
Like I said in my previous post, this trail system was not a flat, casual walk. It was sporadic with long steep inclines, declines, and most sections had narrow paths with a lot of overgrowth. Rocks, exposed roots, fallen trees over the path, and ticks/black flies everywhere! It induced plenty of sweating, and we were drinking a lot of the 3 liters each we were carrying pretty quickly. I looked down at one point and my legs were bleeding from being cut up by thorns, downed trees and branches. It burned so good.
I am thoroughly thankful that I had spent 11 weeks training for this. It was not for beginners! My mouth breathing was in full effect.
Overcoming the most challenging obstacles were my personal victories. B is a much faster walker than I am on trails because I’m constantly trying to watch my footing while taking in scenery. He has much longer legs and walks ahead of me quite a bit sometimes until I catch up. When I finally met him at the top of long stretches of incline, I mentally high fived myself. This was amazing. And terrible. I wanted to do it again and again. I didn’t even care how sweaty, red, and hot I was.
We arrived at backpacking camp 2. It sat off about 100 yards from a cold, shallow creek. It lazily babbled and taunted us with it’s liquid clarity.
This sweet little creek would supply us with our drinking water, a place to splash around in to cool off and water to boil for dinner.
Our campsite was severely rustic. Literally just a tiny clearing in the woods on the outskirts of the park. We were miles from the families cozy in their giant RVs fully loaded with full sized appliances (all I wanted was an ice cold Coke…), AC and inevitable selection of family Pixar movies.
We were feeling defeated for not fulfilling our initial goal and trail itenerary. We cooked and ate dinner, dessert, drank our respective whiskey and wine and collapsed in the tent with 2.5 hours of daylight left. We seriously decided to lie down at 6:30pm. It was so hot. We talked a lot. Picked ticks and sticker burrs off of ourselves. Discussed summer plans and what we wanted to do on our next backpacking trip. We dozed off and on. My sleeping pad was uncomfortable. B woke up to ask “Did you hear that? What was that??” a couple times. I played a lot of Candy Crush on my phone (finally beat that level I’ve been stuck on!)
And then we didn’t wake up until 7:30 the next morning. It got down to 66 glorious degrees between 3-4:30 in the morning and combined with the assistance of my battery powered fan it was our saving grace after spending hours in a stuffy tent.
Though it was already getting hot when we woke up and we knew we had a long trek back to the car, that morning was probably one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done.
We started off Saturday morning at 8:40 after refilling our water, packing up and stretching our backs out. We crossed paths with a trail runner. We took a different route back to the trailhead to avoid the overgrown paths we took the day before. It was brutal. I thought I was going to have to collapse and tell B to go on without me. Turns out our campsite was in a valley. Thus we had to climb out of it. But we did it! And pretty quickly. We hiked out 30 minutes faster than we hiked in. The routes were a little different but approximately the same distance. So we figured we did about 11-12 miles round trip. Not the longest I’ve ever done 2 days in a row, but for sure the most difficult.
Mudlick Trail has beautiful views, overlooks and shut-ins we have yet to explore. I feel like what we experienced on the other side of the mountain was more deep forest and ground rock formations. Regardless, this is the hiking trip I’ve been waiting for to rightfully earn my title, no matter what I saw or didn’t see. Hiker. I hike multiple times a month. I daydream about hiking. I collect literature. I obsess and research and save for gear. I’m planning out of state hikes and more overnights. Tender calves, sunburn, cut up knees and thighs, tick and chigger bites. I earned them all.
I said in a previous post weeks back that I would know when I earned the title and it came to me the moment I stepped foot on Mudlick Trail and set up camp for the night. This was absolutely one of the best experiences I have ever had with myself and with my husband. I’m so proud of us.
I know these entries are mainly for me, but I hope they inspire or awaken a desire in someone else to step outside of their comfort zone. Have experiences. Don’t wish for them.
Our relieved faces to be back in the car with air conditioning and knowing greasy burgers were in our near future.
Add us on Instagram @pottsiepackin!
Thanks for following along. If you missed my previous post from this morning check it out! It’s related to this one.