13 September-20 September
After several weeks of living the luxurious bunkhouse lifestyle (complete with electricity), the crew ventured into the nether-lands of the Irish Wilderness for an 8 day hitch.
The Irish Wilderness is a 16,227 acre parcel of land within the Mark Twain National Forest. Originally set aside in the 1850’s as land for Irish immigrants, the Civil War invaded the area and the inhabitants “mysteriously vanished.” It is unclear what happened to the settlement after the battles subsided.
Due to the nature of the topography, the crew was offered a boat ride in to their first camp location, where they would work northeast and southeast from the camp. Their boat thankfully returned to pick them up after four days. Briefly stopping back at the bunkhouse to recharge equipment and off-load photos, the crew then headed to the opposite end of the Wilderness, to work from the base of Camp Five Pond and finish out the trail survey.
In total during this hitch, the crew surveyed the final 1.5 miles of the Ozark Trail’s Current River section, completed the 18.4 mile White’s Creek loop trail, and surveyed the entirety of Skyline Trail, a 1.4 mile walk through the sacred lands of Van Buren. That equates to a grand total of 21.3 miles!
Bearing witness to a fantastic midnight thunderstorm, the crew got to enjoy the storm’s effects doubly when the forest then erupted into a magnificent bloom of mushrooms. Armadillos visited the float camp every evening, and a dog adopted the crew as companions for an hour before it darted back into the woods.