Friday, April 18, 2014

A Leap of Faith

Please note that the date has been changed to 27-29 June due to scheduling conflict with some Father's Day plans. Everything else remains the same.

Proposed next trip involves some bushwhacking through the woods.  We have a map and a narrative description of the route.  Nobody in our group has been there before. Other folks have been there and they left a marked trail---we have to trust that those trail markings are still there.  But we also have GPS and compass back-up.

Parking will be at the Lone Star Hiking Trail Parking Lot #8 northeast of New Waverly.  A simple mapr of all the LSHT Parking lots is here:

This will be a Friday night to Sunday morning trip--June 27th to 29th.  Arrive any time on Friday and set up camp there at Parking Lot #8.  Around 8:00 PM we'll start serving a pot luck dinner.  Bring something to share and we should have a good meal, especially if Uncle Mike breaks out the Dutch Oven.  I'll be bringing charro beans from my favorite Tex-Mex place.

Saturday morning we will decamp and hit the trail for a four mile hike to Niederhoffer Lake.  The first 3 1/2 miles will be on the well marked Lone Star Hiking Trail.  The last .45 miles we will be following some engineers tape marking a route previously explored and charted by members of the Lone Star Hiking Trail Club:

Here's the written directions, with the GPS coordinates of the lake:

NEIDERHOFFER LAKE N30 38.652 W95 23.225
 (from Four Notch Trailhead on FS 213)0.00 FS 213 trailhead and hunters camp.  Head northeast.
0.33 Four Notch Loop/Main Trail junction (0.33 mi). Turn to the right and go southeast. You will come to a camping area for hunters; in another 100 feet is FS 223.
1.52 Cross FS 223 (1.19 mi); in another 100 feet you will see the hiker's sign. Enter woods. Trail turns to the northeast. 
3.26 Cross Boswell Creek (1.74 mi)--prone to flooding during heavy rain. Watch for mushrooms in the Boswell Creek bottoms.  
3.45 Main Trail intersects Neiderhoffer Branch (0.19 mi); watch for hunter’s blind to right; head southeast. You will see a trail sign shortly. (This is not an official trail so we are hesitant to mark intersection officially). 
3.90 Neiderhoffer Lake (0.45 mi);  
The numbers in bold before each paragraph above are the cumulative mileage for the hike with 0.00 being Parking Lot #8, and they coincide with the little black circles you see on the map.  The numbers in parenthesis ( ) is the mileage between each point.

Normal speed on an easy trial like the ones we have in the Sam Houston National Forest is about 2 miles an hour.  If we take one break for water and slow down a bit in the off trail portion, we should make Neiderhoffer Lake about 2 1/2 hours after we leave Parking Lot #8.  This is a good strategy for summer weather hiking as if we leave not later than 9 AM, we can avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.  We'll eat lunch, set up camp then each of us can have some alone time with God, fellowship with old friends, make new ones, explore the lake, and do some fishing if you want to carry the gear four miles.  I'm told there's good fishing in that lake.


~~Shelter for two nights.  If you don't have any, get in touch with me, or post on the Facebook page and we'll get you fixed up.  You can use a tent, bivy, hammock, tarp, or cowboy camp in a sleeping bag or blanket.

~~Food:  Something for the pot luck Friday night, and your own breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday and breakfast Sunday, or make arrangements with a buddy to share, or make shout out on the Facebook page, e mail me, or get in contact somehow to share with somebody.  You can bring stuff that doesn't need cooking, but if you have stuff that needs to be warmed up, you should get a canister stove as there's no telling at this point whether or not a burn ban will be in effect. If a burn ban is in effect, the only cooking devices allowed will be a stove that can be shut off and won't spill fuel if it falls over, and there's a hefty fine if the Forest Service finds you with a prohibited stove or a campfire.

~~Water, and/or a filtration device.  I have a filtration bag that is designed for groups and will be bringing it, and other folks will be bringing pocket filters, but you shouldn't rely on these for all your water as failures do happen (in fact, it happened to my pocket filter not far from this lake last year).  I also carry bottled water with me along with my filters, and try to use that for drinking and the filtered stuff for cooking.  No safety issue there, it just tastes better.  The rule of thumb in this climate is one gallon of water per person per day. A gallon of water weighs 7 pounds.  I'll be carrying a gallon of water along with my filters.  Water is probably the single most important thing to bring along and have easy access to in this part of the world, especially after the first of May.

~~Bug Juice.  One thing you can do is go down to Tractor Supply and get some permethrin.  They sell it in spray bottles and mixes.  Its used to keep stables and barns bug free.  Its toxic to humans in its liquid form, but it dries quickly and stays lethal to insects after it has dried.  Spray the outside of your sleeping gear and it will reduce the chances of you being bothered by bugs.  Its long lasting---I only spray my stuff once a year.  You should also get some DEET for smearing or spraying over you body.

~~A simple first aid kit.  You don't need the platoon level trauma kit.  A couple of bandaids, some alcohol wipes, iodine, Mercurochrome, or other disinfectant, Neosporin, asprins, a few feet of gauze bandage and adhesive tape,  stuff to take care of scrapes and small cuts.

~~A compass if you know how to use it.  Print out the map and directions above (email me and I can send you a bigger PDF of the map) and put it inside a ziplock bag.  You can also print out one of these maps:

Each of those shows the same thing, just in different levels of detail.

~~A Bible or a device with a Bible app.

A note on electronics:  a phone can save your life, but only if the batteries are good.  Charge it before you leave the house, then shut it off once you get to the campsite and call your wife to tell her you made it OK, then don't turn it back on until you need it in an emergency or you've gotten back to the Parking Lot Sunday morning.


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  2. I'll be there on the 27th and will have cast iron in tow for that first night before the hike. I might lobby for an earlier dinner time than 8:00 but I'll go with the group's preference and I understand drive time and Houston traffic. Also, when I cook, I tend to get a little carried away so expect some volume from my cook pots.

    I have some commitments at two churches on Sunday morning so I will not be spending Saturday night out.

    Great list and info Sarge. Only since I'm picky, I have one point to correct. You mention 7 lbs for a gallon of water and if you have a special supply I'd love to learn about it. A gallon of water weighs 8.34lbs so you may be a pint low at 7 or better understand why that pack felt heavier than you expected. :-)

    I'm looking forward to getting out there with everyone.

    Uncle Mike

  3. I'm using "optimistic water" in my pack. :-) Yep will be good to see everybody. Glad you're making it out---we might have a few other "Friday onlies" coming out as well.

  4. What's the head count at this point. Me and my two boys work allowing will be there

  5. Right now, best guess is half a dozen, with a few coming in for Friday night only.