Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area Overnight Bluff Backpack
  Friday arrived bringing a spring-like day with temps in the 60's and full sun. I arrived at the entry point off  Hwy 123 near Wheeler around 2:00 and parked along the wood line. There was a mild breeze. Some birds were speaking but not that many. The old road to Wheeler Cemetery is within the boundaries of the wilderness and is well maintained for those that need access to the site. All I needed was access to valley of Hurricane Creek. My direction down this path was, in general, westerly. After passing the cemetery the road all but vanished so it was time to move into the valley. Soon the Ozark Highlands Trail was encountered and it was utilized for a short while. At the designated location my motion again turned downhill and to the North.
  The very steep and curving ridge led me to my destination...a bluff with a spacious view to the west as well as to the north. The valley of Hurricane Creek spread before me and I claimed it as my own. A day like this would surely invite other hikers into the valley but no voices were heard in the distance. Maybe tomorrow they would come. By now it was 3:00 o'clock so preparations for the evening were prepared with the preparations held within my name-brand backpack. Green with gray trim...these are the colors of this unit. My gear will always be green, or almost always. The color gives me much solace...as do the trees and the forest shrubbery. The green tent was set up and all my other green items were laid out for ease of use. A modest bundle of wood was gathered for the small fire that was planned for after dinner. From this vantage point no evidence of civilization was to be seen. This is what I search for in a site. The feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, even when you know it is not too far off.
  As the sun sifted down through the hardwood branches of the nearest hill, a meal was had. The temp was around 65° and just barely falling. The valley was silent save for distant sound of flowing water below. The situation was near perfection. A companion or two might have enhanced the experience but the solitude was needed to refresh the mind and flush away the impurities accumulated over the past week was welcomed. A compact fire was created using all of the advanced woodcrafting skills learned over a lifetime of firestarting...namely...a disposable lighter and some dryer lint. Small twigs were added and slowly, very slowly, mind you...larger sticks were placed atop these smaller twigs. Soon...larger, what we might even call, branches, were placed in a kind of cone shaped formation. Before my eyes my fire was nicely aflame. Oh!...the wonder of the bushcraft!
  For the next three to four hours the fire was gazed into and the night was pondered upon. This reminded me of the history of the area just passed through. Wheeler Cemetery and the nearby Wheeler Knob were named after Jim Bob Wheeler. He was the first to settle the area with his young wife, Buffy. In 1835 they established the first grist mill on Sugar Creek and provided all the local folk with grist at a reasonable price. Remember...grist was hard to come by in those days, so Jim Bob was an essential member of the town, and was held in high esteem by all his neighbors. He is remembered to this day by all the remaining Wheelers and is buried in the cemetery that bears his name. Jimmy Chuck Dillen eventually moved into the area and the community of Dillen sprang up nearby.
  The partial moon would not be up until after midnight. The sky was quite dark because of this and the stars very visible. A pile of bear dooky was found just down the bluff when I arrived and the last time visiting here a pile was found on a nearby bluff. As usual I use the bushcraft technique of peeing a perimeter around my campsite to give notice of my territory. The noisy leaves on the hillside would signal any intruder activity. Around 9:30 the fire was was spent. Only a thin layer of embers remained, mimicking the night sky. Into the tent and off to sleep...not! For me, restless nights are the norm when camping. No rustling leaves were heard throughout the night and all remained peaceful. By 5:00 a.m. no more sleep was to be had and the thought of a big breakfast down the road had me out and packing. it was 39° and by the time the top of the ridge was mounted it was 47°. By 7:45 I was back on the highway and within an hour's time sitting in Dewayne's in Dover. The trip was short but surely did hit the spot. Total hike mileage was six.

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