Missouri’s finest backcountry

Our Top Ten Backcountry Locations in Missouri

10. Hawn State Park

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The first trail we ever backpacked is a 9.75-mile figure-eight called Whispering Pine Trail — the gem of Hawn State Park.  A rugged trail littered with small boulders and bedrock follows Pickle Creek, creating shut-ins and cascades. The trail also features scenic overlooks, pine forest and small glades. Hawn State Park is only about an hour from St. Louis, making it one of our favorites for a quick over-nighter.

9. Sam A. Baker State Park

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Imagine waking up in a three-walled, open air shelter with two burning fireplaces, snow falling outside as you make coffee, looking down at Big Creek. When you have cabin fever but don’t have the gear and or energy to battle cold weather, check out Sam A. Baker State Park. Scattered roughly one to two miles from the trailhead, this state park offers three, free backcountry shelters, all on the Mudlick Mountain Trail. Take some time to hike away from your shelter to the top of Mudlick Mountain, where there is a fire tower with great views of some Ozark hills.

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Historical Lens on Ghana

Although I have never been overseas, I have no fear of traveling to new or exotic places, so when I saw an announcement encouraging Washington University employees to apply for a program that would send us to Africa, I didn’t hesitate.  A few months later I got the news that I would be part of my first real global experience, and it was amazing.

Ghana is a place that I knew very little about, making it the perfect place to expand my knowledge of global diversity. When traveling someplace new, history has always been something I use to help understand the people and culture. The evidence of Ghana’s unique and fascinating history can be seen everywhere, from the castles that were used during the slave trade, to the vibrant colors that define African culture. Continue reading “Historical Lens on Ghana”

Bittersweet Summit


DSC_0138 Hello, my name is Mark, and I’ll be posting some things about my travels and my obsession with quality recreational gear. Today, I’ll be sharing a recent story about my summit of Mount Rainier- one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, located 54 miles southeast of Seattle, Washington.

June 28, 2013 was an abnormally warm day at the White River campground and trailhead at the base of the mountain. We were sweating as we packed down coats, ice axes and crampons into our packs. Now wearing only T-shirts and our lightest hiking pants, we trekked up the mountain towards the Emmoms Glacier. Our team was comprised of seven mountaineers including myself and two local experts who would be guiding us along the way. Continue reading “Bittersweet Summit”