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  • Kathy Schrenk

Ozark Trail backpacking: Courtois section

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

This weekend we took advantage of some nice weather and a break in the soccer schedule to hike another bit of the Ozark Trail.

It was our first backpack since the big Sierra trip and it was striking how much easier it was to pack and how much lighter our packs were. It was also my son's first time using his new (bigger) pack, so that helped. Also, no bear canisters weighing us down.

For this trip I chose 13 miles south of Bass River Resort along the Courtois Section. It's the next section of that section, after we hiked the first 12 miles in the spring. Perhaps the best thing about the maps from the Ozark Trail Association is the very detailed water information, so you can plan where to camp easily. There wasn't a lot of water on this stretch but we started out the day carrying as much as we needed. On the first stretch, which is part of the popular Berryman Loop, we saw lots of mountain bikers. The only other person we saw on foot all day was a runner who passed our campsite shortly after we'd arrived and then again on her way back.

The hiking was, in a word, easy. The trip was relaxing as could be. When we were almost to camp after hiking nine miles, we both half thought about walking all the way to the car, knowing we could make it before dark. But we dismissed the idea quickly. I know I relished the idea of a quiet night with no bickering from the two youngest kids and going to bed early. My feet were tired but I wasn't exhausted and only having to carry 20 pounds over relatively flat terrain felt like nothing.

We spent the evening making a fire and cooking, getting some water. There was a wide meadow just beyond the trees across the creek and we heard some wild turkeys as we set up camp. The morning offered us this lovely view of mist rising off the warm water in the cool morning air.

On the way back to Bass there was a funny junction with no signs and this odd landmark:

There's a low stone wall with a couple obelisks inside, but no signs.

Anyway, we easily made our way back to the resort where our car was parked and were home around 11:30. I was reminded why I love to backpack.

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