The hike from Arbaugh to Ozone on the Ozark Highlands Trail was beautiful! We hike 8.8 miles the first day and camped at Boomer Branch. The surround sound howl of coyotes and an owl in the distance were the only disturbances to the silence of the woods and soft sound of flowing water. The weather was just cool enough to justify a small fire for cooking, warmth and good conversation. During a silent moment one hiker said, “You know where I would like to be?” Another asked, “Where?” “Right here,” he answered. “This is the best place in the world to be right now.” Night brought a few light sprinkles with lightning in the distance.
Sunday morning was cool but pleasant. Coffee made with Boomer Branch’s water was delicious. We hit the trail by 8:00 a.m. and gained a lot of elevation over the 4 miles to Ozone.
Highlights included hiking through a forest of beech trees with their deep brown leaves holding on through the winter. There were some smooth-hiking sections of shortleaf pine woods along the way before hiking back into the Mulberry drainage for a nice cool crossing. The final mile was a heart-throbbing, thigh-burning pull up to the Ozone Campground on Highway 21.