Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “moss”

Ste. Genevieve County Vol. 2: Pickle Springs Natural Area

On Saturday, we went hiking through the amazing Pickle Springs Natural Area.    The state conservation website calls it a natural wonderland, and they are right.  It is absolutely fantastic—full of box canyons, glacial relict species of flora and fauna, waterfalls, and fantastic eroded formations of LaMotte sandstone.  It’s a super short hike at only 2 miles, but it makes up for it in changes in elevation and general marvelousness.

Courtesy of Google’s “My Tracks”. Awesome app.

And because there are so many gorgeous things to check out, knowing that it’s a short hike allows one to meander and pause without fear of running out of daylight.  This is special place.  It has that kind of feeling like how things did in the 1970s when I was a kid and traveling held such a magical fascination for me—everything was interesting and the challenging bits, although sometimes difficult or unsettling, were always pretty much safe.  Maybe it’s all the signs posted naming each attraction that makes it feel sort of like a woodland Disney World ride.  It’s not a bad thing at all.  Actually, it’s rather lovely—kinda mellowed by the touristyness of it, but still a magical treasure.  The forest is friendly and open, and the rocks are steady and protective.  This is the kind of place where you can go to be quiet and observant, to slow your breathing and just be.  Here is Pickle Springs in pictures.  Enjoy.

Just past the welcome sign.

The LaMotte sandstone that is so characteristic of this area has worn away to create very sandy soil. All of the paths here are either sand, stone, or beds of pine needles.

The Double Arch

Something’s hidey-hole in the knot of a tree.

Husband.

A very happy Ronin of the Woods.

Funky plants growing on the wet rocks.

Up to the top.

Our path carved of stone.

In the pine-scented air.

And we’ll end with a gratuitous funky mushroom shot.

There were a some signs and a few places that I didn’t take pictures of—like the Headwater Falls which had no water, and Piney Glade right toward the end.   This is a place that I’d like to return to in each season to see how it changes.  I have the feeling it becomes more of itself in the winter time when it’s quiet and not being visited by people who just tromp through the good parts.  And leave their cigarette butts.   We’ve been here twice, and both times I’ve been surprised by the amount of trash people leave behind in this little gem.  I don’t get it.  Why would you throw trash in the very place that you just came to visit for its natural beauty?   Part of that Disney feel I was talking about.   Argh.  I feel obligated to give back to the land that I enjoy so much by being a good steward of it.  For me, this includes packing out all the trash that I find.   The spirit of a place must be respected, especially when you’re gonna walk on it’s ground.  These bones are far older than we, and will be here far longer, too.  Someday maybe we will all care for this good earth.  Until then, I’ll travel with a trash bag.

Next time, I’ll show you the fantastical Hickory Canyons.  I am excite!

Daytrips: Elephant Rocks

Husband is on vacation, and we’ve been taking day trips out of the city.  Last week we went to Elephant Rocks State Park and Johnson Shut-Ins which are located just outside of Ironton, MO, in one of the most scenic areas of the state.  Nearby is Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri, and the Mark Twain National Forest.  I love the Ozarks.

If one will please allow me a brief moment to both bemoan the fact that my real camera died some time back and also to apologize for the shite quality of my phone camera… (me bemoaning silently)…  Thank you.  I feel a little better now.

Elephant Rocks was the site of two granite quarries in the eighteen and nineteen hundreds, and the evidence of this history is still viewable today in the engravings the quarrymen left in the rocks, the marks from core testing, the shards of granite left in piles, and of course, the quarry now filled with water.   The granite mined from here was sent all over the country for fine building, and much of it can be seen in St. Louis.  The stones that you see in these photos were spared from being quarried because they were exposed, and millennia of weathering made them too soft to use for building.  I’m glad.  It would have been criminal to destroy this amazing geological wonder.  The rocks here date from the pre-cambrian age—some 1.5 million years ago.   Although this land is now a state park, granite mining still continues very close by on adjacent properties.  Here are some photos of Elephant Rocks.  No photos of the Shut-Ins, as it was all swimming and climbing over wet rocks.  Good times.  Enjoy.

Elephant Rocks

Bigger than they look

For scale, Husband is 6’1″.

There are lots of off-the-pathway paths through the nooks and crannies and chinks in the rocks here. You have to be comfortable with both climbing, jumping and squeezing to get around anywhere off the paved trail.

My son, the mountain goat.

The biggest one of all, aptly named Dumbo, is 27 feet tall, 35 feet long and 17 feet wide.  At a weight of 162 pounds per cubic foot, Dumbo tips the scales at a hefty 680 tons.  It looks precariously perched, but it’s not going anywhere.

 

For scale, daughter is 5’3″.

Up high, beautiful view.

Drill marks from the hand-drills used to cut away the stones.

Miners carved their names into the rocks. This is E.W. Taylor.

H. Kaye.

Dan. Hearley.

C. Hay and G.M. Hay and others.

When my husband was a teen, it was common (and cool) for kids to jump into the quarry to swim. That’s not allowed now, go figure. I’ve heard it’s because of the snakes…

Looking into the water-filled quarry.

Elephant Rocks has an amazing crop of interesting lichens and mosses, too.  I find these beautiful and fascinating.

gorgeous lichen

Moss!

Mushroom!

And hiding deep in the woods was the old engine house. We didn’t even know this was here.

The rails for the engine are still there.

Even the trees grow around the granite at Elephant Rocks.

 

Elephant Rocks rocks!

 

The end.

Now go out and see the world!

:D

 

 

 

 

 

 

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