This time I started at the west trail head – shared with the Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail. There’s a bit of a climb right away and 15 minutes in, I was sweating profusely and feeling all the fatigue of the previous day creeping over me again. I wondered if I was being stupid and debated turning back and driving home but rested a bit and decided to keep pushing ahead.
After a bit of lunch and setting-up camp, I laid down for a nap and, after what seemed like a couple seconds, awoke to find a group of people walking into the camp area. They were part of an outdoor recreation group from Scott Air Force Base, just a bit east of St Louis. They set up camp nearby and we spent the evening watching the fire, looking at stars, and trading stories. Typical stuff.
I hiked-out via the Joe’s Creek trail. It starts with a 400 foot descent into the creek valley where the trail is very brushy and closed-in. The humidity was noticeably higher too, which I didn’t really need.
Joe’s Creek is reported to be a perennial stream. I saw 2 Pileated Woodpeckers here but couldn’t get a picture.Once the trail leaves the creek it begins climbing about 400 feet back toward the main Bell Mountain trail, and once there you’re descending again almost all the way to the trail head.
So now it was time to start working my way back home, with just one more stop.