Backpacking 101 in the Hercules Glades Wilderness

It’s been about 2.5 years since my last trip to Hercules Glades, and for this trip I was accompanied by Hannah and Matt – a couple USFS interns working out of the Ava (Missouri) Ranger station.  They will be spending some time this summer evaluating certain aspects of the wilderness areas in that district (Hercules Glades, Devil’s Backbone, Paddy Creek, & Piney Creek).

We spent just one morning in Ava on a crash course in backpacking.  Both had done some camping and maybe a little backpacking in the past so we weren’t starting from scratch, and their core gear had already been purchased by the USFS so there was no need to spend a lot of time discussing pros and cons of some of the usual decisions.

By early afternoon we were at the Hercules Glades Tower trail head and hiking 3.3 miles to a camp site near Longs Creek Falls.  Temperature were in the low 80’s – way warmer than I prefer – but there was a breeze and it was downhill so that helped.  I’d never been here this time of year and saw some unfamiliar wildflowers – the most notable being Missouri Primrose.  Ozark Wildflowers says they are “common on dolomite glades” and that was certainly the case here.

We got camp set up, went over bear-bagging basics and hung our food, then headed to the falls to see the sights and get some water.  There was no water flowing over the falls – a bit surprising given the flooding happening elsewhere – but typical.  We cooked dinner and were in in bed by about 9:00 PM.

There was a lot of thunder and lightning during the night and a little rain too but nothing really severe.  After breakfast we started packing and that’s when it really cut loose and drenched us, continuing during part of the hike out.  After a while, the clouds parted and we had a nice mid-60s morning hike the remainder of the way to the trail head.  We all made it back to Ava so I guess that is success.



About Michael R

I enjoy hiking, landscaping with native plants, nature photography, dark chocolate, fine dining, good movies, and old jazz.
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