Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mark Twain National Forest Winter Camping

Ten of us camped on the west fork of the Black River at campsite B from January 9th through the 11th. Temperatures on the 9th were balmy, reaching into the mid-60's, which is unusually warm for January in Missouri. Skies were clear/sunny and nobody was complaining.

We had light but steady rain on Friday night and temperatures plunged to near freezing by early Saturday morning. The ground was a bit muddy but thankfully it didn't pour over night. Everyone avoided waking up in a puddle through the night.

Sam serenades his fire to life:

Saturday temps rose into the 40s but skies remained overcast throughout the day. Zach, Brandon, Paul and I took a hike to the ridge above Cook's creek and explored one of the highest elevations of the area - roughly 450 feet above our campsite. I enjoy these little hikes because I know these heavily wooded areas are nearly inaccessable anytime except during the depths of winter.

An easternly view from the stone strewn ridge top:

The afternoons consisted mostly of trap shooting and target practice with a wide range of firearms. By late afternoon we would spend a couple hours taking down a dead tree and gathering firewood for the night.

The firing line:

We bring a wide collection of camping gear on these trips. Several slept in a Cabela's custom wall tent equipped with a wood burning camping stove. Three of us slept in my Columbia Bugaboo tent, and Paul slept in a older model two person tent, which looked pretty cool.

Inside the suite:

Paul also set up an covered kitchen area equipped with a propane burning stove. Everyone pretty much does their own thing cooking-wise. Roper brought a small Weber, a few of us grilled on a pit next to our campfire, and Paul did a lot of cooking on the gas stove - including cooking us a full breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs and hashbrowns. I also tried a little shovel cooking with mixed results. In a subsequent post I'll list recipes and food to take camping, particularly in winter.

Despite the manly man moniker, we certainly aren't roughing it on these trips.

A southwest view of the campsite at sunset:

By Saturday night temperatures fell to the mid 20s. - a bit cold, but nothing severe. Our tents were covered in frost by morning and water bottles were close to solid ice. Campsite B is very well insulated from high winds, so the morning was more than tolerable.

This is a view from our campsite of the bluff where the west fork of the Black River turns south towards Sutton's Bluff. Ninja found several small openings to Cook's Cave at the top of the bluff just before we broke camp. That's something I'd like to explore next year.


Below is a google map showing campsites A and B. If you ever decide to camp here, please pick up after yourself, haul your trash out, and leave the area as you found it.

View Larger Map


Lisa April 25, 2010 at 2:34 PM  

I have not been to that section of the Mark Twain, just those in the farther southern areas. But those are really fun places to go camping.

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