My Five Favorite Pictures of 2022

Because of health and family issues, 2022 was a difficult hiking season for me. Thankfully, I was able to make a couple of hikes. Here are my five favorite pictures from my 2022 hiking adventures!

#5 Hercules Glades Falls


In January I hiked for two days in the Hercules Glades Wilderness. I followed the Tower Trail and one of the drop off trails down to the falls area.

It was different hiking this area in colder weather. The last time I was here I had to bail early because it was 94 degrees with 80% humidity.

This trip I had to be careful not to fall on the ice that covered the trails.

This is a photo of the falls on Long Creek. They were beautifully draped in ice.

#4 Crossing the Buffalo River

Crossing the Buffalo River

In October we hiked the Ozark Highlands / Buffalo River Trail about 45 miles from Woolum Crossing to Dillard’s Ferry.

This is part of our group preparing to cross the treacherous ankle-deep water! What makes this photo special to me is that six months earlier, I had to alter the end point of a hike because this crossing was 8 feet deep!

The section from Woolum to Dillard’s Ferry was one of my favorite sections of the OHT.

I hope to finish the last section soon!

#3 A Burger at the Ozark Café

Hamburger & Fries

For years as we traveled to hike in the Buffalo River area, I heard people talk about the famous Ozark Café in Jasper AR.

Built in 1909 this café is a popular stop for hungry hikers, canoers, and bikers. Though it is not an actual trail town, it was between trails for me.

I was excited about eating here, and I was not disappointed. Yes, it was as good as it looked!

If you have the chance to eat here, make sure you take some time to walk around the town. The square has several antique and thrift shops that are worth a look.

#2 A Hike with my Granddaughter

Me & J

On a beautiful February day, my oldest granddaughter suggested we go hike through the Springfield Nature Center.

It was a special day with a very special person!

I did wear my day pack so technically it was a backpacking trip.

#1 Campfire at Hercules Glades


Normally, I don’t build fires when I backpack. But this hike was an exception. When I hiked in late Friday night, the weather report said it would get as low as 24 degrees.

When I arrived at my campsite, the cold was quick to set in. Since there was a nice fire pit, I decided to build a fire.

Impressed with my survival skills, I was soon enjoying the warmth of a roaring fire. I found plenty of downed wood, so I kept the fire going for several hours.

About 10:00 I decided to turn in. Though my sleeping bag was warm, with only my nose exposed, I felt the temperature was getting low.

In the morning my thermometer registered 12 degrees!

Bonus Photo

Copperhead Snake

On our OHT hike in October, we came across a massive blowdown on the trail. The only way around it was up a steep hill and around the root ball.

As I started down the hill, I reached out to steady myself on a small tree which cracked and gave way.

I did a slow-motion fall, landing flat on my face sprawling down the hill.

As I got up, my friend began yelling, “Bad snake, bad snake!” I had fallen right on top of the copperhead in the picture.

Fortunately, I was lying flat on top of it, so it was not able to bite me!


The Hercules Glades Wilderness is a 12,413-acre wilderness in southern Missouri located about seventy miles southeast of Springfield.

One thing we under appreciate as backpackers is the value of an overnight. For those who are mortals in the backpacking world (work a job), our schedules don’t allow for big hikes.

But an overnight will allow us to get our legs in shape, test gear, and see incredible things!


My Four Favorite Gear Additions for 2020!

Backpacking gear in the back of a truck.

Here are my favorite gear additions from 2020. While it was a rough year, there were opportunities to get out on the trail. Shorter hikes were a great chance to try new gear in preparation for 2021.

Toaks 750mm Pot
Toaks 750mm Pot

TOAKS Titanium 750ml Pot
(3.2 oz – $35)

It was hard to forsake my favorite cooking pot, but it was just too big. I never needed to boil 6 cups of water!

At a little over three ounces including the lid, tea cup handles and  ability to store a small fuel canister, it was a good addition!

Because of its size, I was concerned about cooking in it. Like most things, all that was needed was practice. My first Ramen Bomb on the Ozark Highland Trail was a culinary triumph!

The one downside, the pot gets too hot to drink your morning coffee without burning your lips. I need tougher lips or a pair of hot lips!

Sawyer Squeeze Filter

Swayer Squeeze Water Filter
(4 oz – $27)

This was more of an upgrade than addition. I had previously used a Swayer Mini. While it worked well, the slow flow rate made it frustrating to use. The problem compounded when the filter got sediment in it. Its rare to find clear water in the Ozarks.

I read that the full-size Squeeze was more efficient. I upgraded mid-Summer and was amazed at the difference.

With the Mini, filtering two liters of water took four to five minutes of heavy squeezing. The Squeeze completed the task in a little over one minute.

Totally worth the $27 to upgrade!

Sea to Summit Reactor Sleeping Bag Liner
Sea to Summit Reactor Sleeping Bag Liner

Sea To Summit Bag Liner
(8 oz – $63)

I purchased this liner for an early spring hike. I am a warm sleeper and was concerned my 20-degree bag would be pushing the limits.

As I took the flimsy liner out of the stuff sack, I had my doubts.

The first night using the liner I was beyond pleased! The temperature dropped into the mid-twenties and I was almost too warm!

While the liner adds some difficulty getting in and out of the sleeping bag, the extra warmth and the softness of the fabric was a welcome addition!

To me, the comfort to weight ratio is worth the extra ounces.

Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Trail Runners

A gift from friends (the best friends give you gear), the Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Trail Runners were my favorite gear addition of 2020.

It was hard to forsake my favorite hiking boots, but I could not believe the difference these shoes made! My first hike in the Altras felt like I was hiking in bedroom slippers.

The wide toe box kept me from the normal blisters I experience between my toes and my legs were noticeably less fatigued at the end of the day!

The rock plate protected my feet on the rocky Ozark trails. The thin upper fabric does not provide much protection if you are a stumble bum like me.

Still, at the end of the day, my favorite gear addition of 2020!

What gear items did you add in 2020?