Bell Mountain Wilderness, 18 April 2009

April 23, 2009

Here’s the second of Missouri’s eight wilderness areas. I hike Hercules Glades with friends in February, and last weekend we did Bell Mountain Wilderness in Iron County with two friends.

One of us (*cough* me *cough*) foolishly left the tent behind when we piled into the carpool vehicle, so we didn’t get to backpack as intended. Instead, we did the point-to-point trail in a day, then got a room at an Ironton motel. Probably for the best, as it _poured_ rain all night.

It rained during the hike, too, for about an hour and a half of the six hours. Not cold or windy, just steady. That’s why there’s no pictures from the summit glade. Bell is almost as high as Missouri’s highest point, Taum Sauk Mountain, but it’s far more exposed, and therefore in weather like last weekend’s, the top is in the clouds. So, there was no view. The rest of the pictures turned out reasonably well, though.

We hiked from the upper trailhead off of the forest road, reaching the summit in about two hours. We had lunch there, in a steady rain, then started heading south to the Ozark Trail trailhead on Highway A, where we’d left another car. That area is dry as a bone most of the year, but because of the rain and the cold, wet, miserable spring we’ve had so far, the granite of the Ozark Trail was slippery as hell. Muddy, too.

It was an awesome hike, nevertheless. However, I think the Missouri Conservation Department may have spoken too soon when it declared victory over feral hogs. We never saw them, but we saw a great deal of their sign–scrapes on trees and rooted-up areas near the trail. Take care when hiking here, and keep in mind it’s an open season on feral hogs because of the damage they do to the environment.

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