Time can be a barrier to adventure, especially when it involves more than one person’s busy schedule. As Tina and I continue to struggle to mesh all the other adventures and travel in our lives with completing this section hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail, even a short trip is worth the effort.
Again coming from opposite sides of the state, we met at Ozone to shuttle over to Arbaugh to begin the hike. The cool early April air meant starting out in warm clothing and hoping for sunshine. This short section winds alongside and across Lewis Prong multiple times.
We had two days for both traveling and hiking for this stretch so we tried to make the most of our time.
Previous expeditions taught us that most established campsites are creekside and almost guarantee an uphill start to the day. Tina read about a potential campsite on top of a knob. We decided it would be worth ending our day on a climb to find this campsite since we weren’t in need of a water source. The high, dry ground also meant the nighttime temperature might be a tad warmer than down in the hollow. After our experience with the sleet-covered tents, this seemed like a good option. The site was not quite at the mileage point we anticipated, but once we found it, we were all in.
The site wasn’t as permanent or as used as most of the sites on the trail, but there was certainly evidence of a once large fire ring even if it was a bit disheveled. I went to work pulling it apart and reassembling it to suit our needs for the evening while still minimizing its impact on the area. The timing of the trip was closet to Easter so after we got our tents up, rearranged the fire ring, and got a fire started, Tina pulled Easter candy out of her pack for a special after-dinner treat.
The trek from camp to Ozone was a lot of downhill to the Mulberry River at MM 83 where we would start climbing again up to the Ozone Trailhead. The two half days of hiking with travel to and from on the same days as hiking added just under 15 miles to our total mileage completed. We celebrated getting to spend time together doing something we both love by enjoying another favorite pastime: refueling. The Ozone Burger Barn (also a resupply stop for thru-hikers) is a favorite place to stop on any trip to the area for a burger and rings.