Hawn State Park, 25 April 2009

April 27, 2009

On Saturday I hiked the 10-mile Whispering Pine Trail at Hawn State Park. This park is between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington Missouri. Major drainages include Pickle Creek, which is spring-fed yet stained with tannins, and River Aux Vases, a small river on the park’s far south side. This is arguably the best 10-mile trail in Missouri, including forests, creeks, and numerous formations of Lamotte sandstone.

It’s also difficult for a state park trail, with three large hills, several wet creek crossings depending on weather, and one ridiculous but short area on the south loop where your choices are essentially between stepping in the River Aux Vases or slipping on the steep, narrow band of sandstone that forms the trail beneath a small overhang. I chose…poorly…and ended up with one wet boot for the final 5 miles. I’d read that the Sierra Club (the original designers of the trail) were scheduled to work on the trail for 4 days in April. The lousy until recently weather may have kept them from doing so, but they really should re-route this area over the hill. Other than that, it’s worth the effort you’ll put into it. There’s also a 6-mile option if you only do the north loop, the 1-mile Pickle Creek Trail (which despite its short length is rocky and difficult), and the 4-mile White Oak Trail, which now connects to the Whispering Pine Trail.

The trail is open to backpackers, too. There’s several official campsites, and others that have sprung up by areas of running water. There’s a no fire rule, but fire rings are everywhere.

The pictures above include lots of piney avenues, flowing water, rock formations, and dogwoods. Also, two box turtles. They’re on the move this time of year, and they’ll hold still for a picture. I missed the wild azaleas and yellow lady slipper orchids the park is known for, although I don’t know if I was too early or too late. The sign says allow 9 hours. I did it in 5 and a half, including lunches and breaks, FWIW.

For a shorter, easier, but just as spectacular hike, try the Trail through Time at Pickle Springs Natural Area between Hawn and Farmington. It’s a two-mile trail, and much less rocky or strenous.

If hiking the 6- or 10-mile Whispering Pine Trail, bring plenty of water (I drank 100 ounces before I ran out). Take breaks. Also, bring snacks. I hiked this trail 2 years ago thinking it was no big deal and brought water but no food. About 8 miles in, after hiking to the top of Evans Knob (the steepest hill on the trail) and then down the side, I bonked, I hit the wall. I sat on a stump and literally couldn’t move for a half hour. Respect this trail.

By the way, the very last hill is about a mile from the end. It’s psychologically a pain, because you can see and hear people having fun in the park campground, while you hike up, and up, and up. It’s one of those Missouri hills–you think you’ve reached the crest, only to turn a corner and find the trail continuing up. If you were really hurting, you could wade across the creek to the campground and walk to the parking lot from there to avoid this final hill, but it is not as difficult as Evans Knob.

*************************

I took the occasion of this hike as a chance to try out some energy bars. I normally don’t go that route, especially since I’m doing a low-carb thing, but I thought it would be a good chance to try some out. Here’s my non-scientific assessment.

The Gels:

Gu Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate: Tasted neither like blueberries or pomegranates–had the same molasses-y taste of the Clif gels. However, its energy came on astonishingly quickly.

100 calories

25 g carbs

55 mg potassium

35 mg caffeine

Clif Shot Mocha/Clif Shot Razz: Again, didn’t taste much like coffee or raspberry. These two tasted really strongly of molasses, which isn’t a bad flavor. Main ingredient is “organic brown rice syrup,” so I sort of wonder if one couldn’t cheaply replicate the whole power gel thing by putting some molasses in a squeeze bottle from a camping store. The main upside to these gels seems to be the smaller likelihood of them making a mess in your pack. The energy does come quickly, and given their light weight, if one didn’t go the molasses route, it seems worthwhile to stow a couple of these in your pack for if you ever really need a little boost.

100 calories

25 g carbs

30 mg potassium

The Bars:

Clif Bar Chocolate Brownie: Lost the wrapper for this one, so no vital stats. Moist, chewy, didn’t taste a lot like a chocolate brownie but instead had an almost applesauce flavor. Still, not bad.

Power Bar Chocolate Brownie: Undeniably good for you, but pretty awful tasting. Tastes a lot like sugar-free chocolate, and the texture was really dry. I needed to drink water with it.

360 calories

33 g carbs

11 g fat

30 g protein

Luna Lemon Zest: We have a winner! The best energy thing I had on the trail. Tastes like a lemony Rice Krispie Treat. Consumed with relish on the top of Evans Knob. Highly, highly recommended.

180 calories

26 g carbs

4.5 g fat

10 g protein

170 mg potassium

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7 Responses to “Hawn State Park, 25 April 2009”

  1. milligfunk said

    Thanks for the feedback – It was good to read your description of the full 10 miles. It’s on my to-do list after Sunday’s hike.

    Nice Ayn Rand reference, btw.

  2. Elizabeth said

    Memories! That was my first solo backpacking trip, and I loved it. It’s nice to backpack it, not quite as strenuous and you can take your time to enjoy the scenery and explore. Great pictures!

  3. Edward Von Bear said

    Niiice!

    Just remember, since you have AoS:

    The Guys Get Shirts!

  4. Paul Stupperich said

    The Sierra Club just got the permission to reroute a part of the South Loop Trail the you wrote about. We will be Working there the last of Oct. and we are looking for help to do this work. We expect to have this work finish by Sat Oct 31st in all goses well. Contact the Park Office if you can help or call Paul Stupperich at 214-429-4352

  5. Paul Stupperich said

    The Sierra Club just got the permission to reroute a part of the South Loop Trail the you wrote about. We will be Working there the last of Oct. and we are looking for help to do this work. We expect to have this work finish by Sat Oct 31st in all goses well. Contact the Park Office if you can help or call Paul Stupperich at 314-429-4352

  6. Paul Stupperich said

    The Sierra Club just got the permission to reroute a part of the South Loop Trail the you wrote about. We will be Working there the last week of Oct. and we are looking for help to do this work. We expect to have this work finish by Sat Oct 31st in all goses well. Contact the Park Office if you can help or call Paul Stupperich at 314-429-4352

  7. ~:, I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information “;

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