|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
We hit the road at 6:00 a.m. with a slight drizzle falling. A quick check of the radar on the iPhone and it was confirmed, showers were falling, but the weekend forecast was cool and clear. By the time we crossed the Red River into Oklahoma the drizzle stopped, but the thermometer in the car kept gradually falling. It was 54 when we left and just 15 minutes later it was 49.
I had been to McGee Creek once before with the scouts, but I wasn't driving. Just remember you don't want to go to the state park. After going about 5 miles down the wrong road we realized our mistake and turned around. As a consolation though we did see several deer and some turkey. The correct road is definitely different from the state park road. The state park is as smooth as tax dollars can make it. The correct road is about as bumpy as a state budget meeting.
We get to the ranger station and park in the nice fenced in parking area then we head over to fill out our permit. Permits are free and can be reserved ahead of time. There's a self service box that has permits and instructions for you, it's all pretty painless.
The trail head is across a small picnic area north of the permit station. There was a large horse trailer parked as a reminder to watch your step on this multi-use trail.
Our plan was to take the boundary trail. At this point the trail changes from wide double track to narrow overgrown single track.
Not far down this trail we get confused for the first time. The main trail heads north, away from the fence line which is not what the maps says it does. We go down this trail for a bit and find what is either a spring or an old house. A little past this we hit a T that is not on the map. I had a feeling we went wrong when we left the fence line so we backtracked.
After crossing a small creek and some looking around in the woods we find trail, or to be more precise we find ribbon marking what at one point was the Boundary trail, I think. We go about two and a half miles playing the ribbon game. What's the ribbon game? You find a faded ribbon, go to it, look for the next faded ribbon, go to it, repeat for a couple of hours and your playing the ribbon game.
Finally we get to a point where we just couldn't find the next ribbon. We searched for about 30 minutes and it simply was not anywhere to be found. Since I had two 13 year old boys with me, one of them not being my own, I decided we needed to head back. After looking at the GPS track I realized we were pretty close to what the GPS said was a trail. Had I seen that I may have pushed through in an attempt to complete the loop. Oh well, I have a good excuse to go back now. This will be a good lesson to teach the kids I think. How to safely admit defeat, but go back when your better prepared and know what to expect. This portion of our trip is not on the track shown.
The few hours it took playing the ribbon game was quickly backtracked in 30 minutes or so by following the GPS track and ignoring the ribbons. We got back to the South Rim trail and took a short break as I figured out plan B. I decided to head to the overlook about a mile down the trail and make a further decision then.
A little ways down this trail you notice off to the north west tree tops just off the trail. That's because your about 40 feet from the steep walls to a small valley below. We stopped for a few minutes at a marked lookout and I decided we we're going to camp at the next designated backpackers camp which was just up the trail about a 1/4 mile.
We set up camp and sit around talking. It's only around 3:00 p.m. so it's not quite time for dinner. We just relax for awhile. That's the point after all, a more relaxed trip to keep the kids interested.
Finally we decide to start making dinner. The kids scarf down two pita bread pizzas a piece and after I tell them it'll be no more than a couple hours to the car tomorrow they eat the next days lunch as well. The ribbon game must have made them hungry.
After they eat theirs I fix my Kapn's Shrimp and Alfredo stew. It's pretty simple freezer bag fare. Foil pouch of shrimp and Knorr Sides Plus Alfredo mix. 1 1/2 cups water and let sit for 10 minutes. Instead of draining the water make it a stew by leaving the liquid in. mmm, mmm, good.
It was quickly bedtime and the temp was dropping fast. The boys climbed into their sleeping bags and sat around cracking jokes. We all went to sleep pretty early to get rest for the pizza buffet they planned on attacking for lunch.
This would mark the first camp out that my son is trying dehydrated eggs on. Spambled eggs with cheese and pepperoni met his approval. Cleaning the pan did not. I think next time he's going to try to steam bake them.
Pretty uneventful hike out. We backtrack to the well marked trail junction at Box Spring camp, which by the way has an active spring most of the time. We head down the Little Bugaboo trail with visions of pizza floating in front of the boys heads.
This part of the trail is single track with some slight rollers that eventually head down to a creek crossing that was flowing water the last time we were here, but was dry this time. Shortly after crossing this creek you come to another junction. We turned south and stayed on Little Bugaboo where it hooks up with the South Rim trail and heads back to the trail head.
That pretty much sums up the trip. The main trail is very easy and suitable for small children or people just getting into backpacking. I would stay off the Boundary trail though, unless your equipped with a GPS and able to backtrack out. It would be very easy to get lost out there without some means of getting out.
To call ahead for permits or to make reservations the number is 580-889-5882.