Awesome hike... awful roads
Do you know where Thayer, Missouri is? Yeah, neither did I before this past weekend. When you’re stuck in the backwoods of far southeast Missouri between a “town” full of abandon buildings with a population of 200 people and a swollen creek with class two rapids flowing over the “major” highway Thayer is an oasis. They have a gas station, the smallest Walmart I’ve ever seen and a surprisingly nice McDonalds. Twice we were turned around by rushing water over the highway. Twice we ended up in Thayer. We got around one of the creeks by taking a detour onto some country roads. Lesson learned, if water is flowing over the state highway that tells you the quality of the road system. Clearly SE Missouri has been forgotten about by the Department of Transportation. County roads in this part of the state equal dirt roads.
“Turn left at this next road,” Meg says.
“Where are you taking me?” “Are you using Google maps or Apple maps?” I respond.
I’m thinking the entire time we’re about to become one of those unfortunate accidents of Apple maps poor programing where the road actually drives right off a cliff. Five minutes later we’re staring at another road with water cascading over it. I’m done with this as I hit the gas and drive straight through the water, spraying it everywhere, like something out of a Ford truck commercial (except I’m not driving a Ford truck... I’ve got a Subaru, which sits quite a bit lower to the ground and is a lot lighter). That was just the trip home, only part of the weekend that included driving eight hours, hiking 36 hours and then driving back 10 hours.
Meg and I did a 36 mile weekend hike of the Buffalo River Trail in northern Arkansas. It was an itenirary that left people looking at us as if we had just murdered somebody and were planning to take them out into the woods to bury them.
“20 miles a day, that’s real optimistic,” said the guy that looked like an ex-navy seal who rides a road bike 50 miles a day. “You know they’re calling for rain tomorrow.”
Excellent, I’m thinking, are there also rabid dogs along the trail that are going to try and eat us when we sleep tonight?
“You know there are rabid dogs along the trail,” he said. “They like to eat hikers when they bed down for the night.”
Ok... so he didn’t really say that second part but he might as well have because at this point Meg is thinking... I WOULD kill Stuart and leave him in the woods if I didn’t need him to carry half the tent.
We did the hike (more to come on that in a future edition of Backpacker) and set a personal high mileage day of 20.4 miles. We had amazing weather for early March on the first day and then a deluge for part of the second. The nice thing about the rain was it made all the waterfalls more magnificent. The trail was actually very nice and very rugged, a great challenge for anyone into backpacking.
So in the end the lesson we learned was southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas have some beautiful scenery... but really horrendously, awful roads.