Missouri Howell is a well-known outdoorman, blogger, and social media personality from the great Show-Me-State. Recently, he's backpacked the Ice Age Trail, traveled Arch 2 Arch for the National Parks hundredth birthday, and explored portions of Utah during the 2016 Uintas Hike. In 2014, he was kind enough to share a personal story about his time in the Ozarks for my yearly "Tales of Backcountry Terror" that I feature during Halloween, and this year, he's back with yet another story about the Ozark region. Be sure to check out his website, or his social media channels after reading the story to see more of his great content!
My story takes place in the Ozark Mountains, which stretch from central Missouri down into northern Arkansas. When I was a kid, “going to the Ozarks” meant going to the family farm. In order to get to the farm, we had to drive four hours south on the Interstate, then take a rural route exit. I can’t remember the name of the exit, but I’d still recognize it today if I saw it. We’d cross Old Route 66 at an old ghost town where most of the buildings had been abandoned and the only real activity was the railroad that ran nearby.
To me, Halloween is the best time to celebrate this danger – and risk with stories that deal with any of the topics above – or any wilderness danger topic that I failed to mention. For the last two years, I’ve covered some of the dangers I’ve seen in the wild with Tales of Terror from the Yosemite Backcountry in 2012, which is a story about me facing an unknown problem on a trail patrol in 1998; and Freedom of the Open Road in 2013, which is a story about me facing problems from my fellow man while camping in Colorado. I’ve also been lucky enough to get a story from Melissa Avery about her experiences with the unknown in Peru (More Than Myth), and will have a great post from Missouri Howell later this month about the unknown in Missouri.
The first things that climbers and mountaineers think about, obsess about, and dream about are cold, hard stones and mountains, stretching into unknown skies above distant plains. The second thing that climbers and mountaineers think about is the open road. The open road can be any road; any highway; any dirt track; or anything at all. It is an abstract concept and cannot be quantified in mere words. It is every road and no road. It is absolute freedom; and it is a means to get to the wild. It is a symbol of freedom; and it is something, like the hills that always has a siren song.
Yosemite is known for being one of, if not the most beautiful National Park in all of the United States. In fact, beyond that, Yosemite is a place that is known world-wide as being a place of amazing natural beauty. Having worked there, visited there, and having spent more time there than a majority of people, there is nothing I can or will say to dispel that fact. But, like most large open expanses that are wild in the world, Yosemite has a dark side