Monday, April 13, 2015

April 9th-12th, 2015 Irish Wilderness - Missouri

 After walker's Club on Thursday April 9th, Ron, Joe and I started the drive down to The Mark Twain National Forrest - Irish Wilderness area in Missouri to do a few days of backpacking with an Ozark Trail group.  My friend, Ron has been backpacking with this group for quite a few years and this was the first time that I was able to go.  Once we got down there, we split into 2 groups.  Ron, Joe and Nancy did some day hiking from a different location. We would meet them at the end.  Bruce, Mark, Dan, Jennifer, Cathy and I backpacked the following trip.  Enjoy!!

Mark (blue shirt), Bruce (red shirt), Jennifer (on the right), Cathy (with pack on), Dan not picture.

Bruce is checking out the route at the Trailhead sign

The Irish Wilderness is a 16,227-acre (66 km2) wilderness area in the U.S. State of Missouri. The U.S. Congress designated it a wilderness in 1984. The Irish Wilderness is located within the Eleven Point Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest. It was named after an Irish Catholic Priest, John Joseph Hogan, founded a settlement of about forty Irish families here starting in 1858; the settlement was wiped out during the American Civil War and has remained a wilderness ever since. The Irish Wilderness is one of eight wilderness areas protected and preserved in Missouri.

This was our lunch stop.  I enjoyed a bagel with peanut butter, bottle of water and a banana.
Something from home!

I kept watching this in hopes of seeing a flower in this green along the way.  No such luck.

We saw many wildflowers, Rue Anemone

Bird's Foot Violet

We had many stream crossings. 

Jennifer crossing the stream

Common Violet amongst the stream crossing

Yellow Bellwort

Mark's pack.  Break time
5 miles and we came to Fiddler's Spring. 
Fiddler's Spring

Jack in the Pulpit

Dan spied these Morel Mushrooms.  After all the photos we took, I should have taken them for my evening's Minestrone soup.

Mark hanging out at the Whites Creek Cave.  The cave is closed because of the Indiana Bats that live here.

My first night set up

We are all set up and relaxing.  We made camp at Whites Creek Float Camp

At our camp site we enjoyed many wildflowers. Virginia Blue Bells

Virginia Blue Bells up close

While at the Float Camp, we took a walk to the Eleven Point River


Used the roots of this tree many times to sit on when filtering water

Jennifer sitting here so you an see how big this tree really was.

Woodland Phlox were just stunning.  Always in bouquets.  They smell like lilacs.

The water in this creek was a turquoise blue
Not really sure of this one.  I think it is in the Stoneseed family.    Hoary Puccoon would be my guess.

Day 2 we lunched at Bliss Spring.  It was just as peaceful and awe inspiring as the Fiddler's Spring from the day before.  I was so taken by the beauty of this spring, I did take a video.  Enjoy!!

Crested Dwarf Iris.  I found this one at the Bliss Spring

A closer look at part of the spring.

At the Spring I also found this Prairie Trillium, this was 1 of only 2 I saw on the whole trip.

Wild Ginger.  They just starting coming up.

Some kind of clover

Cathy and I arrived at our 2nd camp site.  This was near the turnoff to Brawley Pond.  We put our Walking sticks in an arrow, so the rest of the group would know where to turn.  I also left a note that they only had 5 minutes to go after the turn.

Tomorrow we only had 4.3 to go.

Many pine trees on the hike

Thought this was a cool looking photo

Since Cathy and I arrived before the rest.  Once we picked the site, we set to work on collecting the nights firewood and making a fire ring.  Was appreciated by all.

Cathy enjoying her coffee and Jennifer enjoying her freeze dried meal in a bag.

We stayed up around the fire telling stories.  I got to know the others hikers I was with. The only one I really knew was Cathy.  I would hike with them again.  Hope they feel the same.

Hiking out the last day.  This was the view most of the time.  Notice that you can't see the trail.


We started out going toward Fiddler Spring (South loop), and looped around on the North loop.

Cathy pointed out this turtle to me.  He wouldn't pose for a photo.  In fact he took off pretty quick.

And away he goes!!!

Jennifer at the finish.  Give that lady a Leinenkugel!

Ron, Joe and Nancy had brought us some snacks.  It couldn't have been a better treat.  I have never tasted a beer so refreshing.    I had a choice.....  I chose Leinenkugel, water, Leinenkugel and then an apple. Thank you Ron Joe and Nancy!!!

Jennifer, Nancy and Cathy

Bruce, Dan Jennifer, Ron, Mark, Joe, Nancy and Cathy.  We all had lunch at the Jolly Cone in Van Buren

Going by St. Louis on the way home.
This mini vacation was only a few days.  But it was spent outdoors in great weather with some old friends and new friends.  It was an energizer and refresher.  

I will leave you with this: Be a part of things. Know that you are a part of things.


  1. Looks like a very enjoyable backpacking trip! It appears that the wildflowers there are a bit ahead of ours. Glad you had such a good time and made new friends!

    1. I think they are about 2 weeks ahead of us. I haven't even seen the start of Jack in the pulpit at Starved Rock yet. But the May apples are about the same. We don't have any Phlox yet and theirs were just beautiful. I loved seeing the Water Springs, they were the best.