This past weekend, my husband and I had an EPIC journey. I’m lucky in life, and in love. And I’m fortunate to be traveling through this life with my better half, someone who loves to make memories by experiencing all the beauty that life has to offer. We were celebrating our 8 year anniversary and wanted to incorporate some of what we love into the weekend. We love hiking, kayaking, being together and spending time in the great outdoors. While we also absolutely love camping, we decided that this past weekend we were going to venture out of our comfort zone a bit and try something new. And boy, did we ever!
Our adventure? A 13 mile hike along the Ozark trail on Saturday, leaving our car locked in a parking lot to return to the next day via a 10 mile kayak float. We. Were. Pumped.
Saturday morning came, bright and early. 🙂 I was uncontrollable, like a kid on Christmas morning…but, with sass and a bossy attitude. All I could think is that this hike is going to take us all day long, there was rain in the forecast, and we needed to go go go!
We arrived at our trailhead entrance point, bags packed, and started our journey at 9:30AM. Here we are, bright-eyed, and ready to tackle the day!
Our bags were packed to the gill. (We were seriously prepared to be stranded for a few days with the amount of food we packed!) We talked about our game plan if we saw something “wild”, (heck, they had “Watch out for bear signs” posted…) and away we went!
Now, I love to hike. And I pride myself on saying that I feel like I hike quite frequently, as much as I can. But this hike was different. This was a legit hike…up and down the “Missouri mountains”. Wow. I was huffing and puffing at certain times, but we were both loving every second of it. It drizzled on us for about the first 5 miles of our hike, pretty continuous, but nothing that was overly concerning. It was nice enough that it kept the temperature cool and the bugs away, which was fantastic.
I kept having my hubs stop for some pics along the way. (He’s so accommodating!)
And I couldn’t pass up on the selfies of me either!
I was amazed by how the trail and the scenery changed. We went on gravel, pine needles, up and down big hills, walked on flat surface, prairies and through forests. The Ozark trail truly encompasses every aspect of nature. It was beyond gorgeous, and my words and pictures cannot do it justice.
The night before there were hellacious storms that rolled through the area. We had to navigate a ton of downed trees and branches on the trail, which added to the adventure and effort. Here is just one of the many areas that we had to “go off the beaten path” at because we couldn’t get through due to the blocked area.
Literally every few feet were broken trees or branches like the one pictured below.
Above 5.5 miles into the hike, we came upon the most amazing, beautiful bluffs. They line the river, and we walked along them for about 1/2 mile or so. Plus, there was so many caves! My hubby was more adventurous than me in checking them out, but none the less, I got as close as possible. 🙂
The cave pictured below was blocked off so we couldn’t explore, but you can see how giant it is. My husband is 6’4″ and that cave entrance is towering over him!
This little cave below was much more my style. 🙂 Although, I did slowly walk up to it…just to be on the safe side.
Away he went up a cliff to check out what awaited in that cave….I told him I was staying below to get a good picture of him..(wink,wink).
Part of our hike was that we had to cross over the river. While it had rained quite a bit, the water wasn’t that high, maybe to our knees. We had packed out water shoes so we sat on the bank, changed into our shoes and waded across the river. We set our eyes on a giant tree trunk for us to stop and have our lunch, which consisted of a protein shake and an apple. Much needed fuel at that moment in time. Our energy level was starting to decrease, so it was the perfect stop for us.
I literally plopped down on the rocks, as you can see from the pic below. Me, my water shoes and my backpack full of stuff were ready to rest for a bit!
Lunchtime lasted about 10 minutes, the clock was ticking. We needed to get moving. It looked as though the storm was clearing up, and the sun was coming out! We figured we still had about 8 miles to go at this point. While we had packed a tent to be able to sleep on the trail, our goal was to complete the hiking part of our journey on Saturday. So, away we went!
I know I mentioned earlier that this weekend was for our anniversary celebration, and I honestly can’t think of a better way to celebrate us. We were able to walk, sometimes side by side, for 13 miles and talk, laugh, explore and be together. I honestly loved every second of it. Our time together, just us, doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to, and this past weekend was simply perfect. I literally cannot think of any other way I would want to celebrate our life and love.
And did I mention the views? Seriously. I wonder if people who live in those areas and see those views day in and day out take them for granted…I hope not. Take a look for yourself:
We could see for miles. The wind was blowing, the air was crisp and cool…bug free. We could have stayed on the top of that mountain, in silence, for hours. It was a moment that I will never forget. We had made it, and we knew at that moment, we were going to finish this journey. Together. As a team.
Our steps began again as we continued on our hike. We stayed hydrated throughout thanks to the water that we had packed and also in part to the Outdoor Products Mist Hydration Pack, Dress Blues that our friend loaned us. Have you ever used one? Beyond awesome. Hands free! Ha, I love it! I HIGHLY recommend it for biking, hiking, outdoor activites of all kinds! Demo below. 🙂
By about mile 11….we were feeling it. Feeling everything. Old. Sore. Doubt. I had made the mistake of trying to guess where we were on the map we had, and it gave us false hope that we were closer than what we were. Don’t do that! But, we forged on. Now, I know 13 miles may not sound like a lot….but, on terrain up and down, carrying 40 plus pounds on your back…it can be tiring. Plus, I literally walk every day, but in short spurts. There is a difference. Props to all those who do this on a constant basis. You are all amazing.
We ended up completing the 13 miles in 7 hours on Saturday! Not bad! We were happy with that and we were happy to put our feet up and rest up for the 10 mile kayak trip back to our car the next day! I seriously fell asleep at 7:30 that night, and did not wake up until 7:30 the next morning. I was out!
Sunday morning started off amazing, with wildlife out our door and a nice pot of hot coffee. Cheers to my love and another great day! We were excited to start our kayak adventure and were on the water by 9:30.
The water was perfect. It is spring fed, so crystal clear, and you can see all the way to the bottom. So awesome to see fish, turtles, and yes…even snakes along the way. I think we counted over 40 turtles out sunbathing, enjoying their day. Isn’t this shot great that my husband took?
Here I am, champion! Queen of the kayak!
We have a tradition that we have always done any time we float on the river, and that is roasting hotdogs on the shore, somewhere along the way. The tradition started with my father-in-law, and we will carry it on always, as a tribute to him and the love for family that he passed on to us. I don’t recall ever taking a float trip with him where we didn’t roast dogs on the shore, and I don’t plan on that tradition ever stopping.
It was soon lunchtime, so we pulled over and had lunch at the same place that we did the day before when we were hiking. Pretty cool, right?! We gathered twigs, leaves and other “dry” burnable things that we could find, and my husband built a fire, while I patiently waited to cook those dogs.
There is nothing as delicious as a roasted hotdog just randomly cooked on the shore. It’s fun, it’s adventurous and after kayaking all day, you are beyond starving! Plus, we had a gorgeous view while we ate…..
Nothing to complain about there, eh? 🙂
Our kayak adventure took us about 5 hours from start to finish. There were some hairy parts, I almost flipped several times…and at one point, the river was completely blocked by down trees from the storm and we had to drag the kayaks up and around to another location to be able to continue on our journey. But guess what? We did it. I’ve never been more sore, more tired than I am today…but I’ve never felt more ready to tackle adventure either. What an incredible anniversary journey we were able to do together! We supported, we loved and we helped each other every step (literally) of the way. This weekend is worth more than any anniversary gift that could have been bought or given….these memories are money in the bank!
I hope each and every one of you are able to make memories and enjoy the present time. We have found that happiness in life isn’t with what you have or buy, it’s by what memories you make, how you challenge yourself and how you utilize all the abundance of resources surrounding you on a daily basis.
What experience would you love to have in your life?