A "Link" Between Gaming And Hiking...Growing up I loved playing The Legend of Zelda. The hero Link, in all of his 8-bit glory, began his journey when you led him into a cave and met a kindly old man positioned between two flickering flames. As he entered the cavern, the screen scrolled up and text formed over the elderly man's head revealing infamous words that stick with me to this very day, "IT'S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE! TAKE THIS." Then Link was presented a wooden sword, the first weapon I would use on my epic elementary school quest to defeat the Evil Gannon. Later I would begin to explore dungeons in the game, here two items were of great importance; a compass and a map. Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness reminded me of this piece of my childhood, as it really can be dangerous to go alone, especially into a wilderness area and when you head out into these protected areas you should always take a compass and a map and know how to use them.
4,238 Acres And This Is A SMALL Wilderness?recreational opportunity guide, however we found the very last portion of the directions very difficult to find... The left turn on Forest Road 2124. This road does NOT have a traditional style street sign, instead it is a very small, skinny, brown stake-like sign, that is off on the left side of County Road 406 by at least 5-8 yards. We passed this turn twice before finding it. Unfortunately, I didn't measure the distance, but if you turn on County Road 406 from C, it is approximately 2 miles down the dirt road and will be on your left, it does look like it is fairly well traveled.
Road Conditions May Vary...
Be Sure To Bring Your Own Map.
Into The Wilds We Go!
We Meet Another Trekker.rescue lost hikers the year before.
Watch Out For Obstacles, Remember That Map?
|Scribbling on your map is a'ok! |
I had to remind myself of downed trees and other landmarks.
Remember: Getting Away From It All Is Only Fun If You Get Back...Where we were actually at was the first of three official splits in the trail, shown on the map. Once we navigated back to our last known good location we opted to circle the downed trees to the west this time and sure enough, we were able to pick back up on the trail. With a quick check of the compass and glance at the map, we knew we were back on course to make it to the summit of Rock Pile Mountain. We were also lucky enough to spot the actual split, buried under a few trees, marked by an aged fence post with a rock set atop it. Although we would not see our local hiking companion again, we would spot evidence of his trail as we continued.
I've Never Been Happier To See A Color.
|My new favorite color! Follow Me Orange.|
Our Final Destination And A Possible Ancient Relic.
|Finding a spot of enlightenment and my center, in the Rock Pile.|
Overall Thoughts: I LOVE This Place.Overall, our hike to Rock Pile Mountain was fantastic. We could not have asked for a better day and botanists would fall in love with the variation in local trees here; as the wilderness supports basswood, butternut, Kentucky coffee tree, walnut, sugar maple, and magnificent white and red oaks. If you find yourself hiking in Spring, as we did, you'll also notice as you near the man made ponds the sing-songs of frogs as they serenade in hopes of a mate. Evidence of white-tailed deer, turkey, and other large game abound, we spotted many tracks for the deer and heard them as they escaped, just out of view, on our return hike. Another thing to watch out for, although we found no tracks or evidence, are black bears. There have been quite a few spotting of these bears in the Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness, so please keep this in mind, particularly if you are camping in the area as you should suspend your food items in a bear bag, high in a tree. The last thing you would want during a wonderful camping trip would be a humongous hairy camp crasher.
Keep In Mind: I'm A Wilderness Fan-Boy...wilderness areas. I enjoy the relative solitude, the complete lack of crowds and the feeling of truly being alone and yet one, with nature. The lone hiker we encountered was the solitary exception to the general experiences I've had in the Missouri and Illinois wilderness areas and the other hikers (remember the newer RAV4 at the trailhead?) we never spotted, and once our traveling companion went out of sight at the downed trees, we never spotted him again either. In our wilderness areas I find that the birds sing a bit bolder, nature takes an extra second before darting for cover, the general fresh air seems fresher, and Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness was certainly no exception. I can't recommend this area enough if you're looking to get away for a day hike or if you're planning a remote backpacking trip, just don't forget to print a map and take a compass. Remember, GPS devices may run out of battery, so if you're using one be sure to bring extra batteries. In fact, that is the reason that I did not take many pictures during our visit here, I had reserved my phone for an emergency only, turning it off as we hit the trail in order to conserve all battery life. I hope you decide to visit this great wilderness area, I'm sure you'll enjoy it just as much as we did!
One Last Thing...All packs are not created equal. One thing to keep in mind, if you are back packing like we did, keep your load light and properly adjusted or, well, there's a picture below. My fingers became pretty swollen due to hiking with too much weight on my shoulders and not enough on the hip belt. Hopefully you'll get as big of a snicker at this as my wife did... Happy trails to you!
More Information:Local Treks on facebook
Mark Twain National Forest: Rock Pile Wilderness
Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness on Wilderness.net
Mark Twain National Forest Brochure of Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness (with trail map)
Mark Twain National Forest Recreational Opportunity Guide for Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness (with trail map and driving directions as well)
Official USGS Rock Pile Mountain Quadrangle Map (use with the trail maps above)
- Note the USGS map above is a HUGE file and in pdf format.
Wilderness Areas: Let's Get WILD! (post on wilderness manners and what to expect in a wilderness)
The Official USGS Maps Page (helpful for all types of maps, and FREE!)
Tiny. Tenacious. Terrible. Ticks. - A post on how to keep those bloodsuckers at bay!
How To Take A GREAT Day Hike
Trailhead GPS Location: 37°27.811' N, 90°24.311' W (taken with Samsung Galaxy S4)
Rock Pile GPS Location: 37°25.222' N, 90°25.199' W(taken with Samsung Galaxy S4)