Five Takeaways from Taum Sauk Shakedown

I was able to go on a 26-mile shakedown hike a few days ago on the Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail in Missouri and this is what I have learned.

1. I’m Bringing My Stove

Recently I have been debating on whether or not I should go stoveless. I decided to take my stove on my shakedown, and I am glad I did. It was a great morale booster to eat warm food after a cold day of hiking. I will appreciate that in the early parts of the AT when it’s cold. Even if I decide I don’t want to use it, it does not take a lot of room in my pack and it’s super light, so I’m definitely going to start out with it.

Warming my soul with hot ramen.

2. I’m Bringing My Trekking Poles

Taum Sauk is NO JOKE! There are so many rocks, my feet took a beating. I think I would have fallen a handful of times without the assistance of my trekking poles. I originally did not want to take them, but I think they are handy to have for multiple reasons. Not only are they good for balance, but they are also good for spearing any weirdos who try to come into my tent while RaffyTaphy is tryna put me to sleep.

This isn’t staged at all. Nope.

3. Boredom

I had no service the whole time, only saw four people, and was in my tent ready for bed by 5:45. Not gonna lie, it was kinda boring. However, I am not too stressed about it. I know I will have a lot more fun on the AT. For example, I will have service most of the time (Verizon), there will be people to meet, and the days will be longer so my nights in the tent won’t be as long. I was in my tent from 5:45 p.m. to 8 a.m., an agonizingly long time when there is nothing to do but sleep and listen to Bob Seger all night (love ya, Bob).

4. I Love My Pack

Most of my warm gear was on me so that’s why it looks so small.

I have the Gossamer Gear Kumo, and it’s my favorite pack ever. Just look at how sexy that thing is! It fits all of the gear I have and rides very well on my back. My loads are usually around 20 to 25 pounds, which feels good, especially when I wear the hip belt. I also love the shoulder strap pockets and the roomy mesh on the front of the pack; it holds wayyyy more than you think.

5. My Quilt Is Going to Work

I was eager to test out the limits of my 30-degree UGQ bandit down quilt on this hike. It got down to 24 degrees and I did not feel cold; in fact, I never even strapped my quilt onto my pad. Granted, I was wearing my base layers, Nano Puff, and rain jacket, but still, I did not get cold. I am starting my hike April 3, so I am anticipating a few nights on trail that will be colder than what I experienced on this hike. Nevertheless, I am very happy with it!

Quilt did well, but I woke up with my head wet from my tent wall with frost. P.S I am single, ladies.

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Comments 6

  • Dudley : Jan 12th

    Nice post… nicely written and identify with it… hike on!

    • Caleb Bess : Jan 12th

      Thank you!

  • Steve : Jan 12th

    Great posts and I wish I would have done the AT at your age. I hope to still go in my 40s.

    Be sure to check out all the great trails in Wildwood, MO.

    • Caleb Bess : Jan 13th

      Thanks Steve! My Aunt and Uncle live up around Wildwood so Next time I’m up there I may have to check them out!

  • David Casey "Peeps" : Feb 2nd

    Not positive but I think if you wear your rain jacket sleeping you are trapping are between it and your body so you’ll quilt actually is not keeping you warm it’s the clothes you had under your rain jacket

  • Dan : Feb 26th

    I’m a noob backpacker, just starting to get into hiking. I’ve motorcycle camped all over the country but didn’t have to carry the gear very far, so most of it is much too heavy for backpacking. So I’m in the process of getting lighter gear. I may test out the Taum Sauk portion of the OT when my custom quilt comes in. I have a military extreme cold weather system that would work but I think it weighs 11 lbs and its huge but I lived in a tent in the Balkan mountains during winter using that bag and know it works. I grew up in Ellington, MO near that portion of the trail and my parents still live there.


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