What’s in Your Backpack?

This whole month I’ve been considering the troubles we avid adventurers can get into and how to minimize the risks when we camp, kayak, canoe and hike.  Sometimes you can do everything right and still end up in a bad situation, needing basic supplies.

With that in mind, I sent a text to my son, Cole, and asked him to take a picture of what he considers essential for his hikes-some of which are overnight hikes.  He takes an inner frame backpack on overnight hikes.  The bass doesn’t go with.  Here is what he sent me:

What's in Your Backpack?

Essential gear for longer day and overnight hikes in the Ozarks

Due to his habit of sleeping out on his hikes, he always carries his hammock, 2 tarps, paracord, nylon braid cord, flint and a steel knife with fishing line and a hook stored in the handle.  He carries his kettle, sanitizer, extra wool socks, lighter fluid, gloves, tarp and axe.  He brings a dry sack when he kayaks, but it would come in handy for bear food storage as well.  Also included are sunglasses, headlamp, pocket solar panels to charge his phone, cup, fork and pan with a lid.  He carries a small towel,  Sawyer squeeze for water (available online at most outdoor gear retailers), sleeping pad and bag, along with the camera and tripod.  In the summer he rarely uses the sleeping bag and never carries a tent.  He also carries TP and electrical tape, which can function for him as a first aid kit in a pinch.  A lot of Cole’s gear is multi functional.  He can use the tarp for rain jacket in a pinch.  If he needs a quick shelter, stringing the rope and using the tarps will act as a tent.  The trick is to take what you need but not carry so much it takes away your energy and enjoyment of the hike.  Always wear a hat and take a bandana on hikes-they are very useful for everything to cooling down to first aid.

Snakes of SWMO Ritter Springs Springfield MO

This is a non venomous snake. Notice the round eyes and lack of wide head. Possible Diamond Back Watersnake

Of course, he will also take along MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat) or other lightweight foods and water.  Some favorites are beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit (don’t eat too much), peanut butter, ramen, bananas, and tuna fish with crackers.  I also like those cracker packs with either tuna salad or chicken salad that are available at Aldi for about a dollar.  When hiking it’s important to stay hydrated and have high energy foods available.

Rushing Sac River

Anyone want to cross here?

Of course, the location and duration of your hike will dictate your needs.  For a short hike in a well-traveled location it’s not as essential to have a big first aid kit or lots of food.  Water yes, food not so much.  On our recent hike to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, we took essentials only and kept our packs small and lightweight.  We traveled 1.75 miles in about 2 hours and had a good time.  I’ll post more about this trip in 2 weeks.

Sac River Trail off Hwy 13

The Sac River Trail off Hwy 13 is a great place to hike or mountain bike.

With my own backpack for day hikes-I never sleep rough-I usually carry a whistle and first aid kit along with water, bug spray, a decent flashlight, rope, sunscreen and a few snacks.  I also have mace, a small army knife, and Chapstick.  I have been lost before when hiking and been down to the last half hour before sunset wondering if I was going to make it back to the car before it got dark.  I’ve also had friends get caught out in weather, remember it is SWMO and weather here can be unpredictable especially in the spring.  I’ve also had friends get caught out overnight with essentially no gear and no food, because what started out as a well-marked trail got less so after a few miles-not fun.

Day Hike Supplies

Minimal supplies for a short day hike

Remember too, your cell phone may not work out in the back country.  You may get a spotty signal if you find a high enough hill, but nothing beats being prepared before you leave the house.  Also, it’s a good idea to always let someone know where you’re going to be hiking and a general time of when you will be back, especially if you are taking off for a few days.

The Ozarks region is filled with beautiful places to hike for a day or a week so get out there!

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

Hiking in Crawford County

Crawford County hiking

Roaring River State Park

Black Vulture Roaring River State Park Cassville MO

One of 2 vultures found in North America, this black vulture was spotted in Roaring River State Park in SW Missouri

I have always been fascinated with fishing.  As an only child with a great imagination, I would find the biggest stick I could, tie yarn to it and place a huge metal closet hook on the end.  I would march down the stairs into the wilds of the backyard of my apartment in San Francisco, toss my line into the cats water bowl and sit for what seemed like hours (probably 10 minutes, I was 4) waiting for something to happen.  As I grew I learned other ways of fishing for the real thing and enjoyed taking my oldest son out and letting him learn about this great hobby.  Yesterday I had the chance once again to be involved in passing down a passion for fishing as my family gathered at Roaring River State Park and introduced this fun hobby to the grandkids.

Roaring River is located outside Cassville in Barry County, Missouri.  A scenic drive off of Hwy 60 down Hwy 39 to Hwy 248 and a hard left onto Hwy 112 which takes you to the park.  The park has 3 levels with different bait use available for each level.  When the park officially opens this year (2020) on May 17th you must have both a Missouri state fishing license and a daily trout tag to fish.  Children under 16 and seniors 65+ are exempt from fishing license rules in Missouri, but must obtain a daily trout tag.  There are plenty of spots to tent camp, RV camp or rent a cabin on the property.  There are quite a few resorts that we passed that look well-kept and that are starting to open back up after the Covid 19 shutdown.

Roaring River State Park Trout Hatchery

A birds eye view from the Fire Tower Trail overlooking the main hatchery pond.

I was more interested in hiking this trip than fishing, so I left the spouse to see if he could catch dinner (he didn’t) and took off for the Fire Tower Trail with two of my children.  The park has 7 trails and information and maps area available here:  https://apps5.mo.gov/trails/fullMap.action  and here: https://mostateparks.com/sites/mostateparks/files/Roaring%20River.pdf   Due to the difficulty level of the trail, my abysmal cardio endurance, and fear of heights, we were only able to hike for about an hour.  Lesson learned.  At the hatchery, Roaring River is located between two very high bluffs, so if you want to hike there, it’s pretty much straight up.  I will be checking out the other trails at some point to see if any are less heart attack inducing.

The weather was perfect on May 9, though anyone from this area can tell you the weather can change quickly and without warning in these parts.  Back in 2017 rains poured down and swept away quite a few of Missouri’s water based businesses and campers in Roaring Rivers valley had to be evacuated.  Many are rebuilding including Roaring River State Park.  Once a hatchery with many tanks for young trout, most now stand empty with only a few holding tanks used to get brown and rainbow trout ready for delivery into the river.  On opening day, March 1, trout fishermen and women stand shoulder to shoulder casting lines and showing off their skills at 10 and 2 o’clock.  Having never mastered the art of fly fishing, watching people who are skilled is a favorite past time while I’m on the rivers.  Trout can also be caught using spinner bait with a rod and reel; my oldest has had luck with power bait as well.

Roaring River State Park Cassville Missouri

Whether you want to fish, camp, hike or swim-Roaring River State Park has all your outdoor getaway needs!

Roaring River is a great spot for the day or the weekend.  Close to the Arkansas border and the Chain of Lakes, there are quite a few outdoor pursuits to enjoy.  The park is well equipped for picnics, BBQ’s and also has a restaurant and store which will open after May 17th 2020. There is also a nature center which explores the history of the park, and will also open around May 17th.   On August 15, 2020 Roaring River will host a Kids Free Fishing day which are generally staffed with experienced men and women who love to share their fishing knowledge with the next generation.  Keep an eye on the Department of Conservation website at: https://mdc.mo.gov/events/details/kids-fishing-day

All things considered the day was wonderful.  My granddaughter’s began learning a great new hobby that will hopefully engage them in the outdoors for years to come.  Be warned, the water is very cold and extra socks are a must for children.  There is no wading in the fishing areas, but there is a swimming hole and swimming pool available in other parts of the park.  Several other well learned lessons were:  Don’t throw rocks when people are fishing and Don’t touch random plants (poison ivy grows close to the trails here).  Roaring River State Park has a lot to offer, so get out there!

For those of us not interested in sleeping on the ground!

Well-kept cabins with a view of the hatchery and close to the store and restaurant.

Intense thigh workout ahead!

There are seven hiking trails throughout Roaring River State Park. Part of Fire Tower Trail is a steep incline up the bluff.

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!