Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “mushrooms”

Ste. Genevieve County Vol. 3: Hickory Canyons

This place.  This place was a total surprise.  I’ve traveled all over the world, seen some of the most moving and bold landscapes ever.  And while Missouri is beautiful, it’s not beautiful in the big, super raw, punch to the solar plexus way that, say, the Rockies are or southern Utah or coastal California.  It leans toward pastoral beauty in the farmlands and rugged old beauty in the Ozarks, river beauty along the Missouri or the Mississippi.  But Hickory Canyons was different.  Somehow.  This place was altering.

It is quiet—out of the way, off some gravel road.  The feeling here is the opposite of Pickle Springs.  There are no signs, no catchy names.  Just the ground, just the trees, the water and the rocks.   How good it felt here.  There is some ground that transports you when you cross its boundaries, takes to to another place, someplace otherworldly.  That was not this ground.  This place was very… real.  It caught me off guard and then guided me along the moss-lined path.  This is a place that loosens your skin of the tautness from city life, from jobs and money and stress, that stretches you.  This is a place that beckons your bones to sink into the soil and remember the sacredness of your humanity and your connection to what is under your feet.  You know what Hickory Canyons reminded me of?  A friend.  Not the kind that is only interested in you when they need your ear or your shoulder or your stuff but never remembers your birthday.  No, this place is the friend that makes you stew on a cold day, that calls bullshit when you need it called, that will laugh with you and get angry with you, and always sings to you on your birthday.  How’s that for some geological anthropomorphization?  It’s the best I can do, because the pictures don’t do it justice.  I would walk this trail every day if I could.

Lobelia cardinalis in the sun.

I’d love it if someone could ID this one. I’ve never seen a mushroom like it before.

And there you have it.  A wonderful weekend full of geological wonders, hiking goodness, land-bonding, friends, food, drink, celebration, knitting, campfires, banana boats, and laughter.  It’s good to get out and see the world.

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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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