tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-53556251144456808062016-12-19T05:28:56.263-06:00Local Treks: Hiking Missouri and MoreLocal Treks is a hiking blog dedicated to trails in Missouri, Illinois and more!Shannonnoreply@blogger.comBlogger48125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-40116256116985024102016-03-02T09:14:00.001-06:002016-03-02T09:14:11.275-06:00Taum Sauk Mountain State Park: Welcome to the Top of Missouri!<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lD9mxXVsuc8/VtC1lmFAMKI/AAAAAAAAGWA/FcutiNqu8_c/s1600/Park%2BEntrance.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="360" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lD9mxXVsuc8/VtC1lmFAMKI/AAAAAAAAGWA/FcutiNqu8_c/s640/Park%2BEntrance.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />A little over a year ago I took on <a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/11/buford-mountain-conservation-area-take.html" target="_blank">"Big Buford"</a>... No, not the delicious arterial clogging <a href="https://www.checkers.com/food/full_menu/seared-and-seasoned-burgers/big-buford" target="_blank">burger</a> they sell at Rally's/Checkers, but Buford Mountain, located just a few miles outside of Ironton, Mo. Buford Mountain is the 3rd highest point in Missouri and was a well earned victory as I took on it's 10.6 mile loop trail and enjoyed every single second of it. But I have to admit, the very second I finished the Buford Mountain trail loop and I began my ride home my mind was instantly alight with visions of taking on Taum Sauk Mountain, which is officially Missouri's highest point. I needed to make some calls, I would need oxygen, heavy parkas and perhaps a Sherpa or two... Right?<br /><br /><span style="color: orange;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">No oxygen tanks or Sherpa needed...</span></b></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RAp6rMU2ZEs/VtC1ndfVPlI/AAAAAAAAGWs/q8LEkWfYt9s/s1600/Top%2Bof%2BTaum%2BSauk.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RAp6rMU2ZEs/VtC1ndfVPlI/AAAAAAAAGWs/q8LEkWfYt9s/s320/Top%2Bof%2BTaum%2BSauk.jpg" width="179" /></a></div>Taum Sauk Mountain makes up one of many mountains found in the St. Francois mountain range created by a Precambrian igneous uplift that is far, far older than the Appalachians. In fact, many geologists believe that Taum Sauk may be one of the few areas within the United States that has never been covered by ancient seas, most likely existing as islands during that time. Topping out at 1,772 feet, accomplishing Taum Sauk's summit was a bit easier than cresting Big Buford. To reach the official top of Missouri it was actually a short walk from the parking lot, only 1,000 feet down a paved trail, to a granite marker near a large boulder. I thought that may rob a bit of the "coolness" from the accomplishment, but honestly... <i><u><b>It didn't</b></u></i>. I was still at the top of Missouri, so a selfie was in order. But soon I thought, I really came to hike with my <a href="https://goo.gl/photos/YZMnWjKAsFTWMZfE6" target="_blank">furry friend Hyatt</a>, what should we do, where can we go? And it was then that I remembered, Taum Sauk Mountain State Park hosts not only the highest point in all of Missouri, but it also contains the state's highest waterfall, Mina Sauk Falls and I had heard tail that this trail was not quite as "accessible". So, after snapping a few pictures we made our way down the trail, anxious to view the falls.<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><span style="color: orange;">Want to "earn it"? Take the Mina Sauk Falls trail...</span></b></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-961t9QdBh9E/VtC6027NVfI/AAAAAAAAGXI/uKpR9VErIEM/s1600/Mina%2BSauk%2BSign.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-961t9QdBh9E/VtC6027NVfI/AAAAAAAAGXI/uKpR9VErIEM/s320/Mina%2BSauk%2BSign.jpg" width="213" /></a></div>I'll reiterate my desire to have a bit of a hike so that my hiker pride would feel as though the accomplishment of visiting Taum Sauk Mountain was not one of great ease, but earned through the sweat of my brow and the protesting of calves and quads. As I followed the trail to Mina Sauk Falls, it became apparent that this hike would be earned as the trail faded from paved trail, to rock lined trail, to gravel trail and finally to a foot worn path of Earth, leading through the forest toward our watery goal. Now, those who are "in the know" realize that Mina Sauk Falls only run in wet weather, which is one of the reasons I timed my trip here after we had received some rain during the week, so that foot worn path became very, very sloppy. In spots the trail greedily ate my entire shoe, replying only with a "splooch" as I pried my foot from its grip. My hairy buddy however, was absolutely in his element, galloping and prancing in the mud and muck as I could only think about how much fun it would be driving home with a wet and muddy pooch...<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-n6jJu5WAYx8/VtC1osR7MUI/AAAAAAAAGWs/H2Khlf8z6pM/s1600/Taum%2BSauk%2BPanorama.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="198" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-n6jJu5WAYx8/VtC1osR7MUI/AAAAAAAAGWs/H2Khlf8z6pM/s640/Taum%2BSauk%2BPanorama.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><span style="color: orange;">From the mud to stone...</span></b></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-r6UMAvCvwk4/VtC1oDqWraI/AAAAAAAAGWs/UmrMtiW5iFw/s1600/Hyatt%2BRock.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-r6UMAvCvwk4/VtC1oDqWraI/AAAAAAAAGWs/UmrMtiW5iFw/s320/Hyatt%2BRock.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>The muddy, Oak and Hickory lined wooded trail gave way to our first glade, where a keen eyed hiker may find life better suited for a desert lying about the warm, barren rock. Lizards normally dart across this empty expanse, searching for their insect prey. But it was far too cold for our reptile friends to be emerging just yet. So we enjoyed the melodies of the feathered inhabitants, which drifted easily to our ears, serenading us as we made our way over the stony floor. As we moved forward along the trail I had to pay particular attention to my footing as the rock was very slippery in spots due to the rain water still draining from the mountain, so please, pay particular attention here for wet spots. I will readily admit, it was very hard to look down at my feet, concentrating on my footing with such a stunning view of the Arcadia Valley sweeping in a nearly full 360 panorama. I had to stop, pause and take in an eyeful, so I found myself a nice boulder to perch on and enjoyed a cool drink of water, allowing all my senses to be filled, enjoying the view as the songbirds created the score for this outstanding scene. But my hairy buddy was ready to go, so I was brought back to task by wet tongue and muddy paws upon me. Before we pressed on though I had to snap a photo... or two.<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="color: orange;"><b>Onward to Mina Sauk Falls</b></span></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EUSSYD1X25I/VtC1sTRkP3I/AAAAAAAAGW8/kfZBPNtYtWE/s1600/Mina%2BSauk%2BFalls%2BPortrait.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EUSSYD1X25I/VtC1sTRkP3I/AAAAAAAAGW8/kfZBPNtYtWE/s320/Mina%2BSauk%2BFalls%2BPortrait.jpg" width="213" /></a></div>The trail to the falls continued to waver from earth to rock and back again as it continued downhill, and was fairly well marked. However, at one particular point there seemed the foot worn trail led straight, and had it not been for a well placed timber, I would have missed my turn to remain on the trail, so do pay attention as the trail may fade in and out in spots. As the path began to follow the gentle curves of the mountain I could hear rushing water and my mind was awash in anticipation of what was just out of sight. As the trail led slightly back uphill and around a huge, precariously perched boulder, I caught my first sight of Mina Sauk Falls and the crystal clear waters cascading from the top of the fall, stream over a series of ledges and finally end its journey down 132 below. There is something about a waterfall that fills not only my senses, but also my soul. Honestly, I feel completely at peace and find absolute solace in listening intently to the crashing of the water while being cooled by the mist rising from the impact. After soaking in the falls, I realized that I had forgotten a few things, most notably the filter I use to create the cascading fall pictures and my tripod, however the falls washed away any concern of that and I snapped the photos I could with my camera but left with even more vivid pictures taken with my mind's eye. I followed the Ozark Trail down the mountain, being very careful to avoid loose and wet rock in order to gain different perspectives on the falls. It was at the base of those falls that I simply sat, for how long I honestly don't know, and watched the falls simply...&nbsp; fall. From here I could carry on for another mile and see another great wonder of the area, the Devil's Tollgate or journey another ten miles to reach Johnson's Shut Ins, but I was running short on time, so I began my ascent back up to the top of Mina Sauk Falls to begin my uphill return hike.<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><span style="color: orange;">A tragic legend for the beautiful falls</span></b></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4iMtmCEBpQA/VtC1p_tzJ6I/AAAAAAAAGWs/GhBGHjrMR94/s1600/Upper%2BMina%2BSauk%2BFalls.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4iMtmCEBpQA/VtC1p_tzJ6I/AAAAAAAAGWs/GhBGHjrMR94/s320/Upper%2BMina%2BSauk%2BFalls.jpg" width="213" /></a></div>As I made my way back down the mile and a half trail, I thought of the legend of Mina Sauk Falls. How the chief, Sauk-Ton-Qua and the Piankashaw Indians once called this wondrous land home. In fact it was chief Sauk-Ton-Qua for which this mountain was named, who the white man called Taum Sauk, because his name was hard to pronounce. The Piankashaw lived in peace on these lands, but would fiercely repel any invasions made by other tribes, in particular the advancements of the Osage. It was said that Sauk-Ton-Qua had a beautiful daughter, Mina Sauk, who fell in love with an Osage warrior. One day Mina Sauk was caught in the young Osage warriors arms and taken prisoner. Sauk-Ton-Qua sentenced the young man to death, despite his daughter's pleas to spare his life. It is said that later that day the young man was executed on the very slopes of Taum Sauk Mountain. He was tossed from the crest of the mountain, crashing from ledge to ledge below with the spears of warriors, until finally coming to rest at the base of the mountain, battered, bleeding and dying. As Mina Sauk watched her lover she could no longer contain her grief and as her Osage suitor lie at the bottom of the mountain, breathing his last breaths, she cast herself from the summit as well, plunging over Taum Sauk's ledges to her death. It was then, that the great spirit became so moved by the lovers deaths that the very Earth trembled and shook, and Taum Sauk Mountain began to crack. Then a flood of water streamed forth, flowing over the very same stones as the lovers, washing away their blood. Such a tragic legend to explain such beauty... There are other versions of this legend, some change the name of the daughter, others create the falls with a thunderous lightning bolt, but all seem to suggest the falls were created by the great spirit's response to the treatment of the young lovers.<br /><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="color: orange;">Pro-Tips for Taum Sauk Mountain State Park</span></span></b><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aSBhYz3Vy64/VtC1pEa1uBI/AAAAAAAAGWs/lFFNZ-jHzDM/s1600/Trail%2BMarker.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aSBhYz3Vy64/VtC1pEa1uBI/AAAAAAAAGWs/lFFNZ-jHzDM/s320/Trail%2BMarker.jpg" width="213" /></a></div>I truly enjoyed every second I spent at Taum Sauk Mountain, from the thrill of being taller than every single Missourian for a few brief seconds to experiencing the peace that streams from Mina Sauk Falls (despite the star crossed legend) I can't recommend this park enough. I would suggest that you aim to visit the park after there has been a period of rain, especially if you want to see Mina Sauk Falls and snatch your own moment of zen from this busy, noisy world. Be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes that you don't mind getting absolutely covered in mud and muck. Which brings me to this... Bring a towel for your car, especially if you are bringing a four legged companion, I'm still finding bits and pieces of Taum Sauk Mountain in my truck. Also, keep an eye out for the watchtower. I didn't see it, or know it existed until I had finished my hike, returned home and began to type up this entry. I'll certainly be looking to take some shots from it on my next visit! Finally, be sure you have enough time. I didn't expect the hike to Mina Sauk to take as long as it did, and once there I didn't have enough time to press on to the Devil's Tollgate. The area is rich in wildlife, views, sights and sounds so be sure to provide yourself ample time to really take it all in.<br /><br />I can't wait to go back to Taum Sauk Mountain and I will certainly make time to search for the watchtower and also make my way further down the Ozark Trail to see the Devil's Tollgate. I hope you enjoyed the write up about the area and let me know if you have any questions or suggestions down there in the comments. As always, happy trails to you!<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><span style="color: orange;">Directions</span></b></span><br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m28!1m12!1m3!1d405186.9411729091!2d-90.4033066595853!3d37.49558175036805!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m13!3e6!4m5!1s0x8877853694cf77fb%3A0x80901cff3a8d5f92!2sCape+Girardeau%2C+MO!3m2!1d37.3058839!2d-89.51814759999999!4m5!1s0x87d9c60a8d53d03b%3A0xd5afdee463133db2!2sTaum+Sauk+Mountain+State+Park%2C+148+Taum+Sauk+Trail%2C+Middle+Brook%2C+MO+63656!3m2!1d37.572375699999995!2d-90.7272297!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1456584933831" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe> <br /><br /><b><span style="color: orange;"><span style="color: orange; font-size: large;">More Information: </span></span></b><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br />Missouri Department of Conservation: <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places-go/natural-areas/elephant-rocks" target="_blank">Taum Sauk Mountain Webpage</a><br />MO State Parks: <a href="https://mostateparks.com/park/taum-sauk-mountain-state-park" target="_blank">Taum Sauk Mountain Webpage </a><br />MO State Parks: <a href="https://mostateparks.com/trails/taum-sauk-mountain-state-park?type=hiking" target="_blank">Taum Sauk Mountain Hiking Trails</a><br />MO State Parks: <a href="https://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/taumsauk_minasaukfalls.pdf" target="_blank">Mina Sauk Hiking Trail Map</a><br />MO State Parks: <a href="https://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/taumsauk_taumsauksectionoftheozarktrai.pdf" target="_blank">Taum Sauk Section of the Ozark Trail Map</a> <br />Missouri State Parks.net: <a href="http://missouristateparks.net/taum-sauk-mountain-state-park/index.htm" target="_blank">Taum Sauk Mountain</a>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-35269698340623668802016-02-26T10:39:00.001-06:002016-02-26T10:39:08.407-06:00Shawnee National Forest Quarter Launch & Coin Exchange!<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Fod0A35GbZs/VtB6BycXvCI/AAAAAAAAGTs/q0t278I6u4U/s1600/overlook.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="425" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Fod0A35GbZs/VtB6BycXvCI/AAAAAAAAGTs/q0t278I6u4U/s640/overlook.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><span style="color: orange;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Camel Rock to be Featured on Next US Mint Commemorative Quarter</span></b></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-f6dLFjEzhyg/VtB-XoPvzGI/AAAAAAAAGUU/Os80zzrLVUg/s1600/Shawnee%2BNational%2BForest%2BQuarter.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="200" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-f6dLFjEzhyg/VtB-XoPvzGI/AAAAAAAAGUU/Os80zzrLVUg/s200/Shawnee%2BNational%2BForest%2BQuarter.jpg" width="199" /></a></div>I wrote about the absolute beauty of Shawnee National Forest's <a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/02/320-millions-years-well-spent-garden-of.html#.U2UR0VeTJ8F" target="_blank">Garden of the Gods</a> back in 2014 and the images of the spectacular views there are still just as vivid today as they were then. The United States Mint must have viewed those same scenic vistas because they will soon be releasing a new quarter under the America the Beautiful Quarters Program dedicated to the Shawnee National Forest and featuring one of the Garden of the Gods most prolific sights... Camel Rock. This is quite an honor for the Shawnee National Forest System as they are one of only five national forests to be recognized by the US Mint's program. The image of Camel Rock was designed by Justin Kunz and sculpted by Jim Licaretz and features a fantastic view of Camel Rock with a red tailed hawk gliding the silver sky above.<br /><br /><span style="color: orange;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange</span></b></span><br />In recognition of this honor, the United States Mint invites you to the Shawnee Forest Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange to commemorate the release of the new quarter at 10 a.m. on February 4th, 2016 at Southeastern Illinois College's Deaton Gymnasium in Harrisburg, Illinois. At the Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange you will be able to purchase rolls of the new commemorative quarters, $10 for a single roll to $100 for 10 rolls, which will be the maximum allowed for exchange. They will also be hosting a Coin Forum the evening before the event, February 3rd, at Shawnee National Forest Headquarters in Harrisburg, Illinois from 5-6 p.m.<br /><br />Now you can carry a piece of the Shawnee National Forest in your pocket and it will only set you back a quarter!<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><span style="color: orange;">More Information</span></b></span><br /><a href="https://fs.usda.gov/wps/PA_WIDContribution/simplegetfile?dDocName=FSEPRD488826&amp;url=/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd488826.pdf" target="_blank">Shawnee National Forest Quarter Launch &amp; Coin Exchange Info Sheet</a><br /><br /><span style="color: orange;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Directions</span></b></span><br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m26!1m12!1m3!1d1618501.1059832622!2d-90.12641103690302!3d37.598982317193084!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m11!3e6!4m3!3m2!1d37.3334477!2d-89.573268!4m5!1s0x8870e9014660ed49%3A0xf03ec6cef5d8e5b9!2sSoutheastern+Illinois+College%2C+3575+College+Rd%2C+Harrisburg%2C+IL+62946!3m2!1d37.751457599999995!2d-88.4365218!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1456502302125" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-73284954755605161112016-02-24T09:21:00.000-06:002016-02-25T07:03:30.769-06:00Elephant Rocks State Park: Home to Views, Trails, and... Elephants?<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-62KkYsYJdtI/VszArwvhAWI/AAAAAAAAGSE/1oskp6GKdXk/s1600/B%2526W%2BScale%2BPerson.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-62KkYsYJdtI/VszArwvhAWI/AAAAAAAAGSE/1oskp6GKdXk/s640/B%2526W%2BScale%2BPerson.jpg" width="640" /></a></div>&nbsp;I remember coming to Elephant Rocks State Park back when I was twelve years old with my parents, back in the *cough, cough* 80's... Marveling at the mammoth... er... Elephant sized pink granite boulders. Trying my hand at scaling those circus sized freaks, tracing carvings etched over 100 years ago by master masons with my fingers, gazing over the long abandoned quarry now filled with nearly a century's worth of rain, and exploring so much more. So returning as an adult was almost a homecoming, with the Elephants patiently waiting atop their weathered perch, welcoming me back to the park with a single question, "Are you ready to act like you're 12 again?" To their query, I answered quickly, "Yes", despite me putting on a couple of decades between visits.<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><span style="color: orange;">Hike and climb among circus sized granite giants</span></b></span><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cRiaY2rFzsM/VsxTbaJJQiI/AAAAAAAAGRM/Coef7mgKnrE/s1600/Elephant%2BRock%2BView.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="212" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cRiaY2rFzsM/VsxTbaJJQiI/AAAAAAAAGRM/Coef7mgKnrE/s320/Elephant%2BRock%2BView.jpg" width="320" /></a>Elephant Rocks State Park draws its name from the colossal pink granite boulders, the largest of which has been named Dumbo and is estimated to tip the scales at 680 tons! You will find an area where these boulders seem to march like a line of elephants upon a barren granite hill which graces the center of the park. If you'd like to get really technical here these pink colossi are perched on a <a href="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tor">tor</a>, which is Gaelic for rocky hilltop, so if that comes up in a final Jeopardy! round remember who to share your winnings with. On top of the tor, shown in the picture to the left, you may find interesting pools of water, seemingly carved directly out of the granite. These pools are actually referred to as tinajitas and are caused by physical and chemical weathering of the stone, sometimes these tinajitas may be several feet in diameter and provide a home to tadpoles or the hiker's arch-nemesis, mosquito larvae. I have seen some truly beautiful pictures of these circular depressions, filled with water and reflecting their surroundings, but alas... When we visited the park each of the tinajitas we visited were as dry as a bone.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KR7x1rL4pUQ/Vs29dsvTOgI/AAAAAAAAGTA/xwuwiyUuaAA/s1600/Carvings.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="133" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KR7x1rL4pUQ/Vs29dsvTOgI/AAAAAAAAGTA/xwuwiyUuaAA/s200/Carvings.jpg" width="200" /></a>You may also notice many carvings upon the central tor and even on a few of the granite elephants that reside there. Many of the quarry workers would carve their names and date into the granite here when they received the rank of Master Stone Cutter and you will find many dates from the late 19th century, standing as silent testament to the achievements of the men who cut into their igneous bodies. You may also notice growths on some of the stone here as well, called lichens and mosses, generally you will find both of these in sunnier areas. The lichens and mosses found growing here are another piece of the puzzle that develops the unique pattern of weathering demonstrated upon the elephant rocks within the park. <br /><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="color: orange;">Let your feet and fingers do the walking on the Braille Trail</span></span></b> <br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AHXlbE9zR0g/Vs27Q3aCQuI/AAAAAAAAGSs/csfrUfoW8jU/s1600/Braille%2BTrail.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="136" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AHXlbE9zR0g/Vs27Q3aCQuI/AAAAAAAAGSs/csfrUfoW8jU/s200/Braille%2BTrail.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>It is around those stone circus attractions that you will find the first trail ever designed for outdoor lovers with visual or physical disabilities in Missouri, which is fondly referred to as the <a href="https://mostateparks.com/trails/elephant-rocks-state-park" target="_blank">Braille Trail</a>. The one mile long Braille Trail consists of a fully paved trail featuring signs with braille and regular text, you may even download a <a href="http://chirb.it/0kAKBk" target="_blank">MP3 file</a> from the Missouri Department of Conservation that provides audio for each of the interpretive signs along the trail. The Braille Trail loop (circular trail) is a fantastic way to explore the park and as you make your way along you will find spurs (offshoot trails) that lead to additional areas that you may explore, some of these spurs are handicapped accessible, but not all.<br /><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="color: orange;">Explore the ruins and history of the old quarry</span></span></b><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sx948KvUJdA/VsuTxg6dN3I/AAAAAAAAGQw/S9NYYnEPsmg/s1600/Granite%2BTrain%2BDepot.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sx948KvUJdA/VsuTxg6dN3I/AAAAAAAAGQw/S9NYYnEPsmg/s320/Granite%2BTrain%2BDepot.jpg" width="320" /></a>One such spur is the <a href="https://www.mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/erocks_enginehouseruins.pdf" target="_blank">Engine House Ruins Trail</a>, which is less than a half of a mile long and connects to the Braille Trail in two spots, so if you miss the first offshoot, you can catch the other.&nbsp; Along this trail you will find the remains of the old Engine House, which was constructed here to repair and maintain the quarry's railroad engines. Here you can still find the old rails, now overgrown and sunken into the earth, that would have carried loads of granite from many of the local quarries to the larger railroads, such as the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad, which were located some miles to the east. The building itself is eerily beautiful with the seemingly random pattern of mortared junctions really showcasing the individual stones fashioned to create it. It feels like you could almost hear the hissing of the old steam engines that would visit here if you listened closely enough...<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="color: orange;"><b>"Missouri Red" quarried here is still found in Missouri &amp; beyond</b></span></span><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--qptWVNX4rY/VsuTC0z7GqI/AAAAAAAAGQc/rIH0_BWQA7s/s1600/Granite%2BQuarry.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/--qptWVNX4rY/VsuTC0z7GqI/AAAAAAAAGQc/rIH0_BWQA7s/s320/Granite%2BQuarry.jpg" width="320" /></a>As you continue through the park you'll also find a spectacular overlook that provides a beautiful vantage of the old quarry that existed within the park. It has filled with decades of rain water and its steep sides clearly show the scars of the industry that shaped the entire area around the park, even factoring into the name of the nearby city of Graniteville, where you can find quarries that are still running today. It is in areas like this that a man could find himself taking home nearly $5.00 a day by cutting seventy blocks a day in the 1890's. The "Missouri Red", the trade name given to the granite products quarried from this area, can be found right here in Missouri, within the paving stones of some old St. Louis streets, the piers of the Eads Bridge and in the columns of the Missouri Governor's mansion, the granite was also shipped throughout the United States. As you soak in the eagle eye view available here take notice of the beautiful black oak and shag bark hickory trees that grow in the granitic soil here at Elephant Rock State Park.<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="color: orange;"><b>Look for old "Plug and Feather" tools</b></span></span><br /><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vTiP79-tuMU/VsxY_SbKLHI/AAAAAAAAGRc/52fyHjVXo_Q/s1600/Holey%2BBlown%2BRock.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vTiP79-tuMU/VsxY_SbKLHI/AAAAAAAAGRc/52fyHjVXo_Q/s320/Holey%2BBlown%2BRock.jpg" width="212" /></a>Traveling the Braille Trail around the over 131 acre state park, you'll notice large piles of granite scattered here and there. You will undoubtedly notice that many of these granite stones bear marks of an ancient technique for splitting the dense and tough stone called "plug and feather". The plug and feather technique has been used since the pyramid builders of ancient Egypt (and maybe even earlier). It is a brilliantly simple concept and requires only a few tools to pull off, a metal wedge (called a plug) and two metal shims (referred to as the feathers). A hole is drilled into the stone along a drawn line, which is where the stone cutter wishes the large block to split, then the feathers are inserted and the plug is then placed between the two feathers. Generally there will be multiple holes drilled and multiple pairings of feathers and plugs along the intended split line. At this point the stone mason will begin to strike each plug in succession moving down the intended split line, which causes the feathers to move outward from the center as the plug is driven, continuing to strike until the stone relents and fractures along the line. If you are careful and very observant you may even find some of the old feather and plugs that the quarry workers left behind in some of the holes! The picture to the right shows the fracture of the stone and unused holes as well where the masons looked to split the slab further. However, not all of the holes you find in these rock where placed there to split the stone, some are the results of core samples, taken to determine the quality of the granite.<br /><br /><span style="color: orange;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Don't get lost in "The Maze"</span></b></span><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3LXHlFGCQhA/VsuTcECaLrI/AAAAAAAAGQk/lz6_oifYEW4/s1600/Rock%2BTeeth.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="200" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3LXHlFGCQhA/VsuTcECaLrI/AAAAAAAAGQk/lz6_oifYEW4/s200/Rock%2BTeeth.jpg" width="133" /></a>One of the last spurs that you will find off of the Braille Trail is an area nicknamed "The Maze" where you can wander and explore a section of the trail that features scattered boulders that would beckon "Climb me..." if they could speak. I spent a good amount of time here, bouldering, leaping, wedging myself into crags and cracks and generally acting like my old twelve-year-old self, however my now older body would have a serious discussion with me the following morning, just to remind me of how old I truly am. You could easily spend the bulk of your hike here trying to summit each of the boulders, each of which seems to present you with a different brain teaser of what method to use to climb them. Also keep in mind, it can be dangerous climbing on rocks and leaping from place to place. Any water on the surface of these stones can easily cause you to loose footing and slip as well, that beautiful pink granite makes a pretty slick wet surface, so be careful!<br /><br /><b><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="color: orange;">Pay homage to those who served in WWI</span></span></b><br />As you begin or end your journey on the Braille Trail you may notice a poem carved into a large granite rock face. The carving is weathered and somewhat hard to read, but if you concentrate and focus you will find that these poetic words were carved to pay respect to those who did not come home from World War I in 1918, "In honor of our nation's brave that sleeps over the wave, they died that we be free no more war to be 1918."<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><span style="color: orange;">Pro-Tips for Elephant Rocks State Park</span></b></span><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0x-F3QxpPGU/Vs3IkkvnwvI/AAAAAAAAGTY/rIXH9xA5UCM/s1600/Shallow.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="265" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0x-F3QxpPGU/Vs3IkkvnwvI/AAAAAAAAGTY/rIXH9xA5UCM/s400/Shallow.jpg" width="400" /></a>Elephant Rocks State Park is an <i><b>extremely</b></i> unique and beautiful park, so don't be surprised to find other outdoor enthusiasts filling the park on the same day you arrive. The entire area is particularly beautiful in the fall as the leaves begin to change, the black oak and shag bark hickory put on quite a display of oranges, reds, and every shade between. Be sure to bring a camera, you'll certainly want to take some pictures with these behemoths and maybe even shoot a quick selfie on some of the scenic overlooks from the tor (remember what a tor is... and remember to cut me in on that final Jeopardy! question...). Let the kids (and the kids at heart) play, explore and just generally have fun... But be careful, the beautiful pink granite here becomes slick as snot with a bit of water and remember falls onto solid rock hurt and can easily break bones. Finally, bring a picnic lunch. There are a great deal of picnic areas at Elephant Rocks, be sure to take some time out to reconnect with your loved ones and just sit back, eat and talk about just how awesome Elephant Rocks State Park is. Happy trails and thank you for reading!<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><span style="color: orange;">Directions</span></b></span><br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m28!1m12!1m3!1d404500.8159865745!2d-90.38437864645736!3d37.621862283568035!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m13!3e6!4m5!1s0x8877853694cf77fb%3A0x80901cff3a8d5f92!2sCape+Girardeau%2C+MO!3m2!1d37.3058839!2d-89.51814759999999!4m5!1s0x87d9ca622087df2d%3A0xc049a6378b7e12eb!2sElephant+Rocks+State+Park%2C+Missouri+21%2C+Belleview%2C+MO!3m2!1d37.6545966!2d-90.6885568!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1456248646880" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe><br /><br /><b><span style="color: orange;"><span style="color: orange; font-size: large;">More Information: </span></span></b><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br />Missouri Department of Conservation: <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places-go/natural-areas/elephant-rocks" target="_blank">Elephant Rocks Webpage</a><br />MO State Parks: <a href="https://mostateparks.com/park/elephant-rocks-state-park" target="_blank">Elephant Rocks Webpage </a><br />MO State Parks: <a href="https://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/ERock_TeacherGuide_03132012.pdf" target="_blank">Teacher's Guide to Elephant Rocks</a><br />MO State Parks: <a href="https://mostateparks.com/trails/elephant-rocks-state-park" target="_blank">Elephant Rocks State Park Trails</a><br />MO State Parks: <a href="https://mostateparks.com/page/54959/general-information" target="_blank">General Information</a> <br />&nbsp; - <a href="https://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/erocks_braille.pdf" target="_blank">Braille Trail Map (1 mile)</a><br />&nbsp; - <a href="https://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/erocks_enginehouseruins.pdf" target="_blank">Engine House Ruin Map (0.40 mile)</a><br />Missouri State Parks.net: <a href="http://www.missouristateparks.net/elephant-rocks-state-park/index.htm" target="_blank">Elephant Rocks</a><br />Wikipedia: <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug_and_feather" target="_blank">Plug and Feather</a> <br /><a href="https://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/ERock_TeacherGuide_03132012.pdf"></a><br />Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-74285091032685226942015-09-02T12:13:00.001-05:002015-09-03T07:31:49.516-05:00Cache River State Natural Area: Much More Than "Mud & Muck"<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8754/16834229657_06af1d069e_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8754/16834229657_06af1d069e_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />When you think of a wetlands area, there is nodoubt that you may quickly conjure up an image of Swamp Thing's eerie home immediately. Or, perhaps you envision a marshy bog filled with savage spiders, slippery snakesand man-sized mosquitoes, each lying in wait under an ever present layer offog, lurking within their secret hiding places until deciding to lurchforth for you, their unsuspectingvictim. But in reality, wetlands are beautiful areas that also provide a home to more than a <u><b>third</b></u> of the species on the U.S.Endangered Species List and serve a variety of services to us aswell; such as recharging our ground water supplies, providing a filterwhich removes pollution, and trapping flood waters. But beyond those important ecological benefits, you will find that wetlands may provide another intangible benefit to you. You may find your own soul reinvigorated, if just given a chance to step beyond the "mud and muck" of <a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area</a>...<br /><h2 style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: orange;">Cache River State Natural Area</span></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7592/16421448093_89ba6ea66e_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7592/16421448093_89ba6ea66e_b.jpg" width="151" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This Cherrybark Oak<br />Champion may be found<br />on the Todd Fink<br />Heron Pond Trail</td></tr></tbody></table>The Cache River State Natural Area is an absolutely stunning example of a well restored wetlands area. You will find this gem nestled within a floodplain, which was sculpted by the mighty flood waters of the Ohio River ages ago. The Cache River Wetlands is now fed by the Cache River and it's many tributaries and stretches over 14,960 acres in Johnson, Massac, and Pulaski counties in Southern Illinois. This scenic area also plays as a featured stop to many migratory bird species, including bald eagles, great blue herons and (a personal favorite) snowy egrets. In addition to the myriad of migratory birds you will undoubtedly catch an earful of the areas most vocal inhabitants as choirs of spring peepers, bullfrogs, bird-voiced tree frogs, American toads and more amphibians all sing together from the bogs to the boughs and everywhere in between. As you hike on the trails and boardwalks below you may also want to keep a keen eye trained for some of the larger warm blooded residents as many white tailed deer, squirrels, raccoon, beavers, foxes and mink call the area home as well.<br /><br />On our visit we were lucky enough to hike three areas within the Cache River State Natural Area (click to visit individual pages or read more below): <span style="color: orange;"><b><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-big.html#.VecqopdGRVc">Big Cypress Tree Trail (250 feet),</a> <a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-section.html#.VecqnZdGRVc">the Section 8 Wood Nature Preserve Boardwalk (475 feet)</a></b></span> and the <a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-todd.html#.Vecql5dGRVc"><span style="color: orange;"><b>Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail (1.5 miles)</b></span></a>. Each of these short hikes were absolutely stunning and completely unique in their own way. These short journeys also seriously whet my appetite for a return to visit areas such as the Marshall Ridge Trail (2.8 miles), Lookout Point Trail (1 mile), and the Lower Cache River Swamp Trail (2.5 miles), but that will have to be another post at another time I suppose.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Big Cypress Tree Trail</span></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7597/16419172484_d2e6a84e48_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7597/16419172484_d2e6a84e48_b.jpg" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Although missing some of its mighty boughs,<br />the state champion is still an impressive sight!</td></tr></tbody></table>Beyond the wildlife that inhabits these wetlands, the area also boasts some truly spectacular plant life. Throughout the Cache Area Wetlands you will discover ancient cypress trees with their flared bases and many "knees", which were mere saplings over 1,000 years ago, now standing sentinel over the rich, black-water swamps that still nourish them. On the short, 250 foot Big Cypress Tree Trail you will find one very special bald cypress. This particular cypress tree has been so nourished by the rich waters that it has developed a remarkable base (also referred to as a buttress) of over 40 feet in circumference, which has earned it recognition as a state champion. As you make your way to the enormous namesake of this trail be sure to take note of the other plants such as majestic tupelo trees and low lying thickets of button-bush that share the landscape with the silent cypress colossus.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Section 8 Wood Nature Preserve Boardwalk</span></h2><div style="text-align: left;"></div><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7639/16421473883_62b278c493_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7639/16421473883_62b278c493_b.jpg" width="213" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The murky waters of Section 8 are haunting.</td></tr></tbody></table>There is something nearly hypnotic about the chorus song of nature, in particular the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO4uw53GWHk" target="_blank">melodies of the amphibious inhabitants of the wetlands</a>. The soprano trills of the tree frogs blend with the rich baritones of the southern leopard frogs, while the deep bass of the bullfrogs seem to keep the beat and complete the scale, providing the perfect background accompaniment as you stroll the wooden Section 8 Boardwalk (click here for more "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPU_7DEwPuM" target="_blank">Swamp Music</a>":). As you make your way over the 475 foot long boardwalk you will be enveloped by the cypress, tupelo and other varieties of marsh loving trees, many of which you will be able to identify thanks to the wonderful interpretive panels that are available along the path. Then, as you look out upon the muddy and murky waters, perhaps wondering exactly what may lie beneath its calm surface, you may also catch sight of another state champion, this time a tremendous water tupelo, which can be found at the very end of the boardwalk. Unfortunately I just could not snap a good picture of it, or I would have provided one here for you... Now I guess you'll just have to take this serenaded trip as well. :)<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail</span></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8793/17040767981_19bf2f78f1_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8793/17040767981_19bf2f78f1_b.jpg" width="213" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">See that cool "Zipper" effect?</td></tr></tbody></table>This short, 1.5 mile, trail begins simply enough. You'll find yourself descending into a mix of hardwood forest comprised of a mix of oak, hickory and sweet gum. As you reach the bottom of your descent you will come to a small truss bridge over which you will make your way over a convergence of Dutchman's Creek and the Cache River. If you find yourself crossing this bridge without setting an eye just upstream, toward the actual meeting of these two streams of water, you are missing a truly magnificent sight. For it is here, just upstream, where the relatively clear waters of Dutchman's Creek and the rich muddy flow of the Cache River slowly merge, becoming one, but not before the waters dance together, swirling and circling, ebbing and flowing, creating an absolutely hypnotic effect. The trail continues on just the other side of the bridge, and closely follows the snaking trail of the Cache River. As you continue your hike you will find a fork in the trail, it is here that you will want to journey to the left and in just a few short yards you will find the Heron Pond boardwalk.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8716/16853879478_ccb6ac4384_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="133" src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8716/16853879478_ccb6ac4384_b.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>The Heron Pond boardwalk winds its way out and into the very heart of its namesake pond. The waters here were more clear than we found at the Section 8 boardwalk, which allowed us glimpses of turtles, fish, insects, frogs and more as they swam among the giant tupelo trees and "knees" of the cypress here. In areas we found duckweed would obscure our little windows into the private underwater world of the swamps residents, occasionally these serene green mats of aquatic carpet would erupt with a violent "POP" as an underwater assassin would hungrily burst through the thin layer of duckweed in pursuit of an insect.<br /><br />Now, after you've taken the journey on the Heron Pond boardwalk you may think that's it... But you'd be wrong. Remember that fork, where we turned left? You may be wondering what exactly would have happened had we turned right instead. Well let not your heart be troubled, because had you turned right at that fork you would have taken a trail that would have led you directly to yet another state champion tree! This time you would have discovered the state champion cherrybark oak tree that has grown to a circumference of over 22 feet and 100 feet high! You may never have quite so much fun feeling so very, very small and believe me, it's worth a quick visit to set your eyes upon this towering titan, plus it is only a few yards up that right path...<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Cache River Wetlands Center&nbsp;</span></h2>You may want to begin your entire adventure to the Cache River Wetlands Area at the <a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/VisitorCenter/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center</a>. Unfortunately the visitor center was closed when we visited the park on a Monday, but it certainly seems to have many offerings for you to peruse. It is located at 8885 State Route 37, Cypress, IL, 62923 and is now open to the public five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. <br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wR4RlAh8YMI" width="560"></iframe></div><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Directions</span></h2><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m26!1m12!1m3!1d406951.9452563499!2d-89.56834786790226!3d37.16905395269002!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m11!3e6!4m3!3m2!1d37.333177899999995!2d-89.5731691!4m5!1s0x88775989e1504f1d%3A0x88677fde7fda7197!2sCache+River+State+Natural+Area%2C+930+Sunflower+Lane%2C+Belknap%2C+IL+62908!3m2!1d37.372874599999996!2d-88.9653226!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1439567170241" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe> <br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information: </span></h2><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-big.html#.VecqopdGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Big Cypress Tree Trail</a> - Looking for the state champion bald cypress? Take this trail!<br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-section.html#.VecqnZdGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Section 8 Nature Preserve Boardwalk</a> - Take a stroll directly through a swamp without even getting your feet wet!<br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-todd.html#.Vecql5dGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail</a> - Another state champion tree and awesome boardwalk trail!<br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area homepage&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/CCR/ccr_hikingmap.pdf" target="_blank">Hiking Maps of the Area</a> <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/VisitorCenter/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center</a><br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r5/CCR/WetlandsCenterFacts.pdf">Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center flyer</a> - This little beauty has many of the cool features of the center listed.&nbsp; <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Documents/CacheRiverSiteMap.pdf" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area Map</a><br /><a href="http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/CYC%20Brochure%20Online%20View.pdf" target="_blank">Color Brochure of the Area</a>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-84803588764641740092015-09-02T12:10:00.001-05:002015-09-02T12:11:32.410-05:00Cache River State Natural Area: Section 8 Nature Preserve Boardwalk<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7714/17015636986_4896759590_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7714/17015636986_4896759590_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><h2><span style="color: orange;">Taking A Musical Stroll</span></h2><br /><div style="text-align: left;"></div><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7639/16421473883_62b278c493_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7639/16421473883_62b278c493_b.jpg" width="213" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The murky waters of Section 8 are haunting.</td></tr></tbody></table>There is something nearly hypnotic about the chorus song of nature, in particular the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO4uw53GWHk" target="_blank">melodies of the amphibious inhabitants of the wetlands</a>. The soprano trills of the tree frogs blend with the rich baritones of the southern leopard frogs, while the deep bass of the bullfrogs seem to keep the beat and complete the scale, providing the perfect background accompaniment as you stroll the wooden Section 8 Boardwalk (click here for more "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPU_7DEwPuM" target="_blank">Swamp Music</a>":).<br /><br />As you make your way over the 475 foot long boardwalk you will be enveloped by the cypress, tupelo and other varieties of marsh loving trees, many of which you will be able to identify thanks to the wonderful interpretive panels that are available along the path. Then, as you look out upon the muddy and murky waters, perhaps wondering exactly what may lie beneath its calm surface, you may also catch sight of another state champion, this time a tremendous water tupelo, which can be found at the very end of the boardwalk. Unfortunately I just could not snap a good picture of it, or I would have provided one here for you... Now I guess you'll just have to take this serenaded trip as well. :)<br /><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Directions</span></h2><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m26!1m12!1m3!1d406951.9452563499!2d-89.56834786790226!3d37.16905395269002!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m11!3e6!4m3!3m2!1d37.333177899999995!2d-89.5731691!4m5!1s0x88775989e1504f1d%3A0x88677fde7fda7197!2sCache+River+State+Natural+Area%2C+930+Sunflower+Lane%2C+Belknap%2C+IL+62908!3m2!1d37.372874599999996!2d-88.9653226!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1439567170241" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe> <br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information: </span></h2><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-much.html#.VecsU5dGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Much More Than Mud &amp; Muck</a> - An overall view of Cache River State Natural Area <br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-big.html#.VecqopdGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Big Cypress Tree Trail</a> - Looking for the state champion bald cypress? Take this trail!<br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-todd.html#.Vecql5dGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail</a> - Another state champion tree and awesome boardwalk trail!<br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area homepage&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/CCR/ccr_hikingmap.pdf" target="_blank">Hiking Maps of the Area</a> <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/VisitorCenter/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center</a> <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Documents/CacheRiverSiteMap.pdf" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area Map</a><br /><a href="http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/CYC%20Brochure%20Online%20View.pdf" target="_blank">Color Brochure of the Area</a>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-24895938307158480252015-09-02T12:10:00.000-05:002015-09-02T12:11:20.058-05:00Cache River State Natural Area: Todd Fink-Heron Pond<span style="color: orange;"><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7614/17040773821_44c4b2aa6d_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="394" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7614/17040773821_44c4b2aa6d_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="color: orange;"></span></td></tr></tbody></table></span><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">A Zipper Convergence</span></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8793/17040767981_19bf2f78f1_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8793/17040767981_19bf2f78f1_b.jpg" width="213" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">See that cool "Zipper" effect?</td></tr></tbody></table>This short, 1.5 mile, trail begins simply enough. You'll find yourself descending into a mix of hardwood forest comprised of a mix of oak, hickory and sweet gum. As you reach the bottom of your descent you will come to a small truss bridge over which you will make your way over a convergence of Dutchman's Creek and the Cache River. If you find yourself crossing this bridge without setting an eye just upstream, toward the actual meeting of these two streams of water, you are missing a truly magnificent sight. For it is here, just upstream, where the relatively clear waters of Dutchman's Creek and the rich muddy flow of the Cache River slowly merge, becoming one, but not before the waters dance together, swirling and circling, ebbing and flowing, creating an absolutely hypnotic effect. The trail continues on just the other side of the bridge, and closely follows the snaking trail of the Cache River. As you continue your hike you will find a fork in the trail, it is here that you will want to journey to the left and in just a few short yards you will find the Heron Pond boardwalk.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Down On The Boardwalk</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8716/16853879478_ccb6ac4384_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="133" src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8716/16853879478_ccb6ac4384_b.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>The Heron Pond boardwalk winds its way out and into the very heart of its namesake pond. The waters here were more clear than we found at the Section 8 boardwalk, which allowed us glimpses of turtles, fish, insects, frogs and more as they swam among the giant tupelo trees and "knees" of the cypress here. In areas we found duckweed would obscure our little windows into the private underwater world of the swamps residents, occasionally these serene green mats of aquatic carpet would erupt with a violent "POP" as an underwater assassin would hungrily burst through the thin layer of duckweed in pursuit of an insect.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">But Wait! There's More!</span></h2>Now, after you've taken the journey on the Heron Pond boardwalk you may think that's it... But you'd be wrong. Remember that fork, where we turned left? You may be wondering what exactly would have happened had we turned right instead. Well let not your heart be troubled, because had you turned right at that fork you would have taken a trail that would have led you directly to yet another state champion tree! This time you would have discovered the state champion cherrybark oak tree that has grown to a circumference of over 22 feet and 100 feet high! You may never have quite so much fun feeling so very, very small and believe me, it's worth a quick visit to set your eyes upon this towering titan, plus it is only a few yards up that right path...<br /><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Directions</span></h2><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m26!1m12!1m3!1d406951.9452563499!2d-89.56834786790226!3d37.16905395269002!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m11!3e6!4m3!3m2!1d37.333177899999995!2d-89.5731691!4m5!1s0x88775989e1504f1d%3A0x88677fde7fda7197!2sCache+River+State+Natural+Area%2C+930+Sunflower+Lane%2C+Belknap%2C+IL+62908!3m2!1d37.372874599999996!2d-88.9653226!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1439567170241" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe> <br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information: </span></h2><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-much.html#.VecsU5dGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Much More Than Mud &amp; Muck</a> - An overall view of Cache River State Natural Area <br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-big.html#.VecqopdGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Big Cypress Tree Trail</a> - Looking for the state champion bald cypress? Take this trail!<br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-section.html#.VecqnZdGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Section 8 Nature Preserve Boardwalk</a> - Take a stroll directly through a swamp without even getting your feet wet!<br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area homepage&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/CCR/ccr_hikingmap.pdf" target="_blank">Hiking Maps of the Area</a> <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/VisitorCenter/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center</a> <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Documents/CacheRiverSiteMap.pdf" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area Map</a><br /><a href="http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/CYC%20Brochure%20Online%20View.pdf" target="_blank">Color Brochure of the Area</a>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-42724164547257005082015-09-02T12:09:00.000-05:002015-09-02T12:09:08.381-05:00Cache River State Natural Area: Big Cypress Tree Trail<table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7597/16419172484_d2e6a84e48_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7597/16419172484_d2e6a84e48_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"></td></tr></tbody></table><h2><span style="color: orange;">What Is the Cache River State Natural Area? </span></h2>The Cache River State Natural Area is an absolutely stunning example of awell restored wetlands area. You will find this gem nestled within afloodplain, which was sculpted by the mighty flood waters of the OhioRiver ages ago. The Cache River Wetlands is now fed by the Cache Riverand it's many tributaries and stretches over 14,960 acres in Johnson,Massac, and Pulaski counties in Southern Illinois. This scenic area alsoplays as a featured stop to many migratory bird species, including baldeagles, great blue herons and (a personal favorite) snowy egrets. Inaddition to the myriad of migratory birds you will undoubtedly catch anearful of the areas most vocal inhabitants as choirs of spring peepers,bullfrogs, bird-voiced tree frogs, American toads and more amphibiansall sing together from the bogs to the boughs and everywhere in between.As you hike on the trails and boardwalks below you may also want tokeep a keen eye trained for some of the larger warm blooded residents asmany white tailed deer, squirrels, raccoon, beavers, foxes and minkcall the area home as well.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">A Short Trail, Big On Visuals!</span></h2>Beyond the wildlife that inhabits the Cache River State Natural Area, the area also boasts some truly spectacular plant life. Throughout the area you will discover ancient cypress trees with their flared bases and many "knees", which were mere saplings over 1,000 years ago, now standing sentinel over the rich, black-water swamps that still nourish them. On the short, 250 foot Big Cypress Tree Trail you will find one very special bald cypress. This particular cypress tree has been so nourished by the rich waters that it has developed a remarkable base (also referred to as a buttress) of over 40 feet in circumference and towers over 73 feet tall, which has earned it recognition as a state champion. As you make your way to the enormous namesake of this trail over the pavement, be sure to take note of the other plants such as majestic tupelo trees and low lying thickets of button-bush that share the landscape with the silent cypress colossus.<br /><br />You may even catch sight of some fellow nature lovers out paddling among the giant trees. Many come to the area and take paddling tours, which offer additional advantages here in the wetlands. There are <a href="http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g36801-d3571504-Reviews-White_Crane_Canoes-Ullin_Illinois.html" target="_blank">local businesses</a> that can even take you on a guided tour of these impressive swamps!<br /><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Directions</span></h2><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m26!1m12!1m3!1d406951.9452563499!2d-89.56834786790226!3d37.16905395269002!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m11!3e6!4m3!3m2!1d37.333177899999995!2d-89.5731691!4m5!1s0x88775989e1504f1d%3A0x88677fde7fda7197!2sCache+River+State+Natural+Area%2C+930+Sunflower+Lane%2C+Belknap%2C+IL+62908!3m2!1d37.372874599999996!2d-88.9653226!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1439567170241" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe> <br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information: </span></h2><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-much.html#.VecsU5dGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Much More Than Mud &amp; Muck</a> - An overall view of Cache River State Natural Area<br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-section.html#.VecqnZdGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Section 8 Nature Preserve Boardwalk</a> -Take a stroll directly through a swamp without even getting your feetwet!<br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2015/09/cache-river-state-natural-area-todd.html#.Vecql5dGRVc">Cache River State Natural Area: Todd Fink-Heron Pond Trail</a> - Another state champion tree and awesome boardwalk trail! <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area homepage&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/CCR/ccr_hikingmap.pdf" target="_blank">Hiking Maps of the Area</a> <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/VisitorCenter/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx" target="_blank">Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center</a> <br /><a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Documents/CacheRiverSiteMap.pdf" target="_blank">Cache River State Natural Area Map</a><br /><a href="http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/CYC%20Brochure%20Online%20View.pdf" target="_blank">Color Brochure of the Area</a>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-77448261331421205442015-09-02T09:10:00.000-05:002015-09-02T11:34:12.142-05:00Giant City State Park: Devil's Standtable Nature Trail<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5568/15122908759_7d5dcb7cd8_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5568/15122908759_7d5dcb7cd8_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />After taking in the history and spectacular view from the StonefortNature Trail we piled back in the old family truckster and set oursights on the Devil's Standtable Nature Trail, which was to provide abit more of a strenuous hike and a fantastic opportunity to get in a bitof boulder hopping and rock climbing fun for me. This was another shorttrail, winding another one-third of a mile into the beautiful forest,and the cherry on top, the Devil's Standtable itself, was well worth theshort trek. However, if you find yourself wanting to take a seat atthis table you may want to bring along a mighty large chair<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">The Trail!</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3913/15123093608_35ae5d61e4_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3913/15123093608_35ae5d61e4_b.jpg" width="213" /></a></div>The trail begins as gravel filled forms, which create a bit of a stair case, and quickly makes its way to a dirt surfaced trail that follows the bottom of its magnificent sandstone bluff borders. As you make your way along this trail you will find numerous spots that sections of the beautiful bluffs have shaken loose from their native homes, tumbling to the forest floor and as you near the Devil's Standtable itself, you will come across a large, partially collapsed sandstone shelter which is a stone hopper's paradise! I enjoyed leaping from boulder to boulder and even doing my best "Cliffhanger" impersonation from a few of them. When I wasn't hopping from place to place, I noticed that some of these boulders had names and dates carved upon their surface, unknown to me, this was to be a bit of a foreshadowing of our next hike through the Giant City Streets.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Please, Exercise Caution</span></h2><a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5563/15309666535_1de83064d0_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="200" src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5563/15309666535_1de83064d0_b.jpg" width="133" /></a>The official trail ended at a wonderful spot from which to gather a ground level view of the Devil's Standtable, but I wanted to get just a bit closer to this magnificent natural monument. Upon a bit of inspection I found a less worn trail that led to the sandstone base and quickly scrambled up the stoney incline. Let me tell you, at eye-level with the Devil's Standtable you'll surely be impressed with just how delicate the balancing of this formation is and just how fragile the difference between the Standtable staying perched upon its column or its possible plummeting from its lengthy perch! As always, I'll give warning here... Rock may become quite slippery when wet and there is always a possibility of slipping and falling while leaping, bounding, jumping, cartwheeling, flipping, climbing, sliding, handstanding or having any other type of fun on rocks. Children may also be able to get up into an area then be unable to come back down, so please always err on the side of safety.<br /><br /><span style="color: orange;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Directions </span></b></span>(click the Google Map below to enter in your address)<br /><br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m29!1m12!1m3!1d202699.50020135994!2d-89.50510826579529!3d37.45647907398225!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m14!1i0!3e6!4m5!1s0x8877853694cf77fb%3A0x80901cff3a8d5f92!2sCape+Girardeau%2C+MO!3m2!1d37.3058839!2d-89.51814759999999!4m5!1s0x88776c91524190fd%3A0xe77a221f0fa28700!2sGiant+City+State+Park%2C+235+Giant+City+Rd%2C+Makanda%2C+IL+62958!3m2!1d37.606342!2d-89.186843!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1414772855224" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe><br /><br /><b>Giant City State Park</b><br />235 Giant City Road<br />Makanda, IL 62958<br />(618) 457-4836<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><b>More Information:&nbsp;</b></span></span> </h2><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/11/giant-city-state-park-stonefort-nature.html">Giant City State Park Stonefort Nature Trail</a> - Be sure to hit this trail too!<br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/11/giant-city-state-park-giant-city-nature.html#.VecEe5dGRVd">Giant City State Park Devil's Giant City Nature Trail</a> - THE "go to" trail in Giant City <br /><br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GC.HTM" target="_blank">Giant City State Park</a> - Official IDNR Homepage<br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GNC/Trails.htm" target="_blank">Giant City Trails</a> -&nbsp; A list of all eight established trails<br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GNC/VisitorMap.pdf" target="_blank">Giant City Visitor Maps</a> - Maps provided by the IDNR of the entire park<br /><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kllrphoto/sets/72157647871051495/" target="_blank">More Photos From Giant City State Park</a> - My Flickr Album for Giant City State Park Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-68366545911898013892015-02-09T11:23:00.000-06:002015-02-09T11:23:26.564-06:00Using A Compass: You Can Go Your Own Way<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xXFMbQDRfQw/U20DLfkjKEI/AAAAAAAAA20/Jwo0RLE4PtM/s1600/20140419_085808.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xXFMbQDRfQw/U20DLfkjKEI/AAAAAAAAA20/Jwo0RLE4PtM/s1600/20140419_085808.jpg" height="360" width="640" /></a></div><br />Fleetwood Mac had it right, "You Can Go Your Own Way" anytime you like when you're out hiking and you don't need to be a Meriwether Lewis or William Clark either. All you need is a compass, a map and the knowledge of how to use it. Here's a how to on what a compass is, what parts make up the compass and how to put it all together with a map in order to find your way. Fist pumping is advised...<br /><h2><span style="color: orange; font-size: x-large;">What's this "Twisty Thing"? - The Parts</span></h2>Let's start of with some compass basics. How about we learn what the different parts of the standard compass are? Here's a quick list of what you'll find on your standard compass.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8273/15803517512_4705a96f08_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8273/15803517512_4705a96f08_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br /><ul><li><b><span style="color: orange;">Baseplate:</span></b> The baseplate of the compass is the clear, rectangular plate that the compass housing is attached to. It may have a ruler on one or both edges and many items printed on it. Such as the orienting arrow and orienting lines.</li><li><span style="color: orange;"><b>Direction of Travel Arrow:</b></span> The direction of travel arrow is usually an arrow which is printed on the baseplate. It will point AWAY from the compass housing and magnetic needle.</li><li><span style="color: orange;"><b>Compass Housing:</b></span> The compass housing is the plastic circle that contains the magnetized compass needle and some type of "mystery" fluid (I don't recommend cracking it open to take a swig of it).</li><li><span style="color: orange;"><b>Degree Dial: </b></span>The degree dial is a numbered dial that surrounds the compass housing. You can twist this dial 360° around the compass housing. This is also the answer to the question in the heading up there...</li><li><span style="color: orange;"><b>Magnetic Needle: </b></span>Channel your inner child and spin while holding the compass close to your body and look at it. See that two colored needle that turns as you do? That's the magnetic needle, it will always point to Magnetic North.</li><li><span style="color: orange;"><b>Orienting Arrow: </b></span>The orienting arrow is the non-magnetic, non-spinning, arrow that lies below the magnetic needle, it is usually printed on the plastic.</li><li><span style="color: orange;"><b>Orienting Lines: </b></span>Orienting lines are lines which are printed inside of the compass housing and run parallel to the orienting arrow.</li></ul><div><h2><span style="color: orange; font-size: x-large;">How Do I Hold This Thing?</span></h2></div><div>Now that you've familiarized yourself with the parts of the compass, let's talk about how to hold it. Oh, and if you're still spinning in a circle from the magnetic needle definition you can stop, unless your inner child is just having too much fun. Now place your hand, palm up and level, in front of your chest. Next, take the compass and place it in your upturned hand. Boom! That's how you hold it, be sure to keep the compass as level as possible in your hand. If you would like to celebrate with a fist pump, be sure to pump only the compass-less hand.</div><div><br />What's that? You don't want to just hold it in your hand or you want to consult a map? Well, fine then. Take your map and compass, find a nice flat and level location, then lay your map down with your compass on top of it. Once you have it all down you may now fist pump either of your paws in victory.</div><div><h2><span style="color: orange; font-size: x-large;">Now Let's Figure Out Which Direction You're Facing</span></h2></div><div>Look at you, all fist pumping and knowledgeable now! Let's add to your newly found orienteering skills by figuring out which direction you are currently facing.<br /><ol><li>Hold the compass flat in your hand and look down on the top of the compass housing. The magnetic needle should swing off one way or another, <b><i>unless </i></b>you are facing to the north.&nbsp;</li><li>Now, grab the degree dial (you know, the twisty thing...) and turn the dial until the <b><span style="color: orange;">orienting arrow</span> </b>lines up with the <span style="color: orange;"><b>magnetic arrow</b></span>, it should outline it to be a bit more precise.&nbsp;</li><ul><li>Nearly all<b> <span style="color: orange;">magnetic arrows</span></b> are two toned, red and white, line up the red side of the <span style="color: orange;"><b>magnetic arrow</b></span> with the <span style="color: orange;"><b>orienting arrow</b></span>. In fact, if your compass doesn't have a two toned, red and white <span style="color: orange;"><b>magnetic arrow</b></span>, buy one that does. Be sure to check your instructions that come with your compass though, just to be sure.</li></ul><li>Finally, spot your <span style="color: orange;"><b>direction of travel arrow</b></span>, remember it is most likely printed on the <span style="color: orange;"><b>baseplate</b></span>. Follow the line from the backside of the arrow, through the compass housing and take note of where the line intersects the markings on the compass housing. In my photo above the arrow is between the N (North) and W (West), so I am facing Northwest.</li><li>What's that? You want to get a bit more specific? Well, look more closely at your compass housing and see what degree the <span style="color: orange;"><b>direction of travel arrow</b></span> intersects with. </li></ol><h2><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="color: orange;">Did You Know There Are Two Types Of North?</span></span></h2>Well, there are, at least when it comes to orienteering (that's a fancy term for using a map and compass to navigate). So now you're wondering, what are the two types of North? Wonder no more my fledgling explorer, the two types of North are True North and Magnetic North. Let's discuss each of those a bit more here. True North is constant and never changes, it is always located in the same spot and that is why it is referred to on your map.<br /><ul><li><span style="color: orange;"><b>True North</b></span> (may also be referred to as <i>Map North</i>) refers to the point at which all the longitudinal lines meet up on the map, that's up there were Santa lives, at the North Pole. All legitimate maps are similar and have <b>True North</b> at the top of the map. But you see, here's the kicker, the Earth has these little variations in its magnetic field and, based on where you are located, your compass won't point toward <b>True North</b>, it will point to <b>Magnetic North</b> instead.&nbsp; </li><li><span style="color: orange;"><b>Magnetic North</b></span> does not refer to a static point on your map, like <b>True North</b> does. <b>Magnetic North</b> refers to the location on the Earth where our planet's magnetic filed points down. It will wander about...&nbsp; In fact, during 2005 it was located off or the northwest coast of Greenland and is now drifting away further toward the East, toward Siberia. This is the North that your compass points to. Do you see an issue with that? Well I hope you do, because while the map's <b>True North</b> stays constant, the <b>Magnetic North</b> on your compass is slowly heading toward Russia. The difference that is created between <b>True North</b> and <b>Magnetic North</b> is called <i>Declination</i>.</li></ul><h2><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="color: orange;">Well, How Do I Compute The Declination?</span></span></h2>I'm glad you asked that grasshopper! We use our maps and look for the UTM Grid, see image below, or you can visit the <a href="http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/#declination" target="_blank">NGDC Geomagnetic Calculator</a> and have the site compute up the most accurate declination available. I prefer to use the internet site before leaving on my hike and then writing the up-to-date declination on my map. For instance on my <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9H9LAF0ZZM6dE5XTDFTVDN0aWM/edit?usp=sharing" target="_blank">USGS Topo Map for Rock Pile Mountain</a>, you'll notice that the declination is noted for 2001, that data is over 13 years old now and could result in me being off in my measurement for declination. If you prefer to use the map (and possibly old data) or if it is all you have available, here's what to do. First find the UTM Grid and Magnetic North Declination figure on your map, to see what it looks like glance at the image below.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aPyWQf42qnk/U2z_W5PT23I/AAAAAAAAA2U/nzRxfsE--fg/s1600/Map+Declination.png" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aPyWQf42qnk/U2z_W5PT23I/AAAAAAAAA2U/nzRxfsE--fg/s1600/Map+Declination.png" height="163" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Next, find the degree measurement between the line with GN (Grid North) and MN (Magnetic North), that number is the degree of declination, above it is 0<span style="font-size: small;">½</span>'. Then take note to which side of the star the measurement falls, to the West or East. In the image above it falls to the West of the star (True North), so the declination measurement was 0½ degrees West for my Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness map in 2001. Now, when I ran the location 37.43N by 90.42W (Rock Pile Mountain Coordinates) on the NGDC Geomagnetic Calculator today, I was given a 1 degree West declination, which is double the figure given on the map. That little difference can have me off by feet, yards or more of my destination, depending on how far I am traveling. So please, take my advice and get the most up-to-date measurements from the <a href="http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/#declination" target="_blank">NGDC Geomagnetic</a> site and write it down on your map.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Finally, here's a little bit more. If Magnetic North is EAST of True North (the star on the UTM) then the local declination is <b>positive</b>. If Magnetic North is WEST of True North then the local declination is <b>negative</b>. Here's the thing, if your declination is <b>positive</b>, you will be <b>SUBTRACTING </b>the declination amount, if it is <b>negative </b>you will be <b>ADDING </b>the declination amount to your compass reading. My example above has Magnetic North to the EAST of True North, so I would be subtracting 0½' degree from my compass reading.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Did you follow all of that? If so, fist pump now. Seriously. That is a lot to take in and you are officially becoming an orienteering powerhouse!</div><h2 class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="color: orange;">Ok, Now I Have The Declination. What's Next?</span></span></h2><div class="" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Well, it's time to put it all together. For this you'll need your compass, your map of the area, a pencil/pen and your declination measured in degrees. </div><ol><li>Lay your map flat and find your starting point (usually the trail head) and your destination (also referred to as your map bearing).</li><li>Using your starting point and your destination draw a straight line that connects your starting point to your map bearing (destination). You may use the straight edge of your compass <span style="color: orange;"><b>baseplate</b></span> to draw the line. Extend this line all the way through the map borders, this is called your "neat line".</li><li>Be sure you are away from any nearby metal such as keys, belt buckle, cars, fences, Tony Stark (you know, Iron Man), etc., as metal objects may throw off your compass.</li><li>Now, place your compass on the map so that the <b><span style="color: orange;">baseplate</span></b> is parallel to the line you drew, your neat line. Be sure that your <span style="color: orange;"><b>direction of travel arrow</b></span> is pointing to your map bearing (destination).</li><li>Remove the compass from your map and, with the <span style="color: orange;"><b>direction of travel arrow</b></span> pointing away from you, move your body until your red <span style="color: orange;"><b>magnetic needle</b></span> overlays your <span style="color: orange;"><b>orienting arrow</b></span>. Be sure you are holding the compass flat in front of you.</li><li>If your local declination is positive (an East declination), then you will subtract the declination amount, meaning turn the <span style="color: orange;"><b>degree dial</b></span> clockwise that many degrees. If your local declination is negative (a West declination), then you will add the declination, meaning turn the <span style="color: orange;"><b>degree dial</b></span> counter-clockwise that many degrees.</li><li>Rotate your body until the red <span style="color: orange;"><b>magnetic arrow</b></span> overlays your compass's <span style="color: orange;"><b>orienting arrow</b></span>.&nbsp;</li><li>Follow your compass to your destination, being sure to keep the <span style="color: orange;"><b>magnetic arrow</b></span> over your compass's <span style="color: orange;"><b>orienting arrow</b></span>.&nbsp;</li><li>Be sure to frequently check both your map and your compass as you make your way, it is easy to get off course and you may need to make adjustments as you are hiking. </li><li>Fist pumping along the way is optional, but recommended. If you find yourself sufficiently pumped, making a "Choo! Choo!" sound along with the fist pump is allowed. Friends who are along with you may make a "Chugga, chugga" sound. Why should your friends make the "chugga" sound and not the "choo, choo" sound? Because you, my friend, are the conductor of this train, you blow the horn... Cheers.</li></ol>See anything wrong up there? Anything you'd like to add? Like to show me a video of yourself fist pumping on down the trail? Let me know in the comments below or let me know on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook</a>. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you out on the trail!<br /><ol></ol><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-family: Georgia,&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif;"><b>More Information: </b></span></span></span><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a> <br /><a href="http://www.usgs.gov/pubprod/maps.html" target="_blank">USGS Topo Maps</a><br /><a href="http://education.usgs.gov/lessons/compass.html" target="_blank">USGS Education: How To Use a Compass </a><br /><a href="http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/" target="_blank">National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) Homepage</a><br /><a href="http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/#declination" target="_blank">NGDC Declination Calculator</a><br /><br /><ol></ol></div>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-11779012299559681732015-01-23T11:37:00.000-06:002015-02-09T11:20:13.887-06:00MDC Offering Free "Discover Nature Girls Camp" - Kansas City Area<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://mdccdn.modeptofconserva.netdna-cdn.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/node_body_default/media/images/2015/01/canoeing_group.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://mdccdn.modeptofconserva.netdna-cdn.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/node_body_default/media/images/2015/01/canoeing_group.jpg" height="426" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation</td></tr></tbody></table><br />As a father of a wonderful twelve-year-old, I have to admit... It's sometimes tough making the outdoors interesting. I love long hikes, the sounds, the smells, the freedom calls to me like an old friend and I relish ever single "conversation" I get to have with the great outdoors. Every step finds me a different view from which to marvel at her beauty. Now, that's me and my conversation with . Here's the conversation my daughter has with Mother Nature during a long walk: "O... M... G... Will it end?" That's why I keep our hikes short and I scout out most areas as well, it has to pass the "is there something cool or a big payoff on this hike" test. But I think anyone will tell you that the best way for a girl to have fun, well, it's with other girls!<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Enter the Discover Nature Girls Camp</span></h2>If you are looking for a way to make the outdoors more interesting for your daughter (or niece, granddaughter or just over all great girl that you love) who is between the ages of 11 to 15 and you live near <a href="https://goo.gl/maps/8VJv4" target="_blank">Chilhowee, Missouri</a>, you will certainly want to check out the Discover Nature Girls Camp, being held at Camp Palestine in Johnson County (see Google Map below for directions). According to the MDC site this is "a three-day, two-night camp that will introduce girls to outdoor skills in a supportive learning environment". The campers will be participating in skills including: archery, firearms safety, fishing, canoeing and water safety, with the MDC providing all of the necessary gear and materials. Who can beat that? Seriously... Who?<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Registration Is Limited, So Act Now!</span></h2>With a free deal this good you know there HAS to be a catch... And there is. You need to act NOW if you would like your favorite girl to participate as the Discover Nature Girls Camp is limited to 32 campers, with only the first 32 being admitted to the program. To request an application and apply for the Discover Nature Girls Camp, contact Agent Bartlett at (816) 835-6087, or call the Missouri Department of Conservation's Regional Office at (816) 622-0900. To find other GREAT programs near you visit <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/">mdc.mo.gov</a>.<br /><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information: </span></h2><br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m27!1m12!1m3!1d3212123.0396320657!2d-91.70902154999999!3d38.16718329999999!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m12!1i0!3e6!4m3!3m2!1d37.333399!2d-89.5731488!4m5!1s0x87c153f59b162907%3A0x7129840d4daf0073!2sCamp+Palestine%2C+Chilhowee%2C+MO!3m2!1d38.656568!2d-93.82553999999999!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1422033944453" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-offers-outdoor-skills-discover-nature-girls-camp" target="_blank">MDC Discover Nature Girls Camp webpage </a><br /><br /><br />Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-30601444812455623192014-11-25T06:49:00.000-06:002014-11-25T06:51:14.574-06:00Missouri Eagle Days<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c7/Bald.eagle.closeup.arp-sh.750pix.jpg/800px-Bald.eagle.closeup.arp-sh.750pix.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c7/Bald.eagle.closeup.arp-sh.750pix.jpg/800px-Bald.eagle.closeup.arp-sh.750pix.jpg" height="444" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Taken by Adrian Pingstone in July 2004.</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Did you know that Missouri is a top stop for many migrating bald eagles during the winter? Well, Missouri is actually a very popular "vacation spot" for our fine feathered friends, who are drawn to our state's large rivers, lakes and wetlands. In fact, all of our natural beauty, small game and habitat make Missouri one of the best spots in the lower 48 for avid bird watchers to spot a bald eagle.<br /><br />In celebration of our winter visitors, and to bring attention to Missouri's year round bald eagle population, the Missouri Department of Conservation hosts <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/events/eagledays" target="_blank">Eagle Days</a> throughout the state during the months of December, January and February, garnering you an excellent opportunity to learn more about our large flying friends through live captive-eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos and MDC guides with spotting scopes. You'll be able to scan the water's edge and large trees for the more than 2,000 reported bald eagles, who may measure over six foot from wingtip to wingtip!<br /><br />If you're looking to take advantage of the MDC Eagle Days, you'll want to hit up these locations during these dates (click to visit the area via Google Maps):<br /><ul><li>December 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and December 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Squaw+Creek+National+Wildlife+Refuge/@40.082727,-95.252774,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87954efb1809c341:0x907cd7471a78d8f8?hl=en" target="_blank">Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge</a>. Contact number (816) 271-3100</li><li>January 10 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and January 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Smithville Lake <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Paradise+Pointe+Golf+Complex/@39.423512,-94.553556,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87c04f9375c02e6d:0x20ad2cfc7ab52409?hl=en" target="_blank">Paradise Pointe Golf Course Clubhouse</a>. Contact number (816) 532-0174</li><li>January 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and January 18 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/search/Springfield+Conservation+Nature+Center,+Springfield,+MO/@37.1271745,-93.240943,17z/data=!3m1!4b1?hl=en" target="_blank">MDC Springfield Conservation Nature Center</a>. Contact number (417) 888-4237</li><li>January 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and January 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Old+Chain+of+Rocks+Bridge,+Madison,+IL+62040/@38.7594765,-90.1725417,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x87df4e43b1286fe3:0x7ab9da269280b2e3?hl=en" target="_blank">Old Chain of Rocks Bridge</a>. Contact number (314) 877-1309</li><li>January 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and January 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Lock+and+Dam+24,+Clarksville,+MO+63336/@39.3767137,-90.9084649,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87de609efd8679db:0x89608309c9133f3e?hl=en" target="_blank">Lock and Dam 24</a> an Apple Shed Theater in Clarksville. Contact number (660) 785-2420</li><li>February 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mingo+National+Wildlife+Refuge/@37.01849,-90.13078,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87d7e9c899319e5f:0xf2858b93108b6716?hl=en" target="_blank">Mingo National Wildlife Refuge </a>near Puxico. Contact number (573) 222-3589</li><ul><li>Mingo National Wildlife Refuge is a personal favorite of our family! A great place to see a ton of nature... </li></ul></ul>If you'd rather avoid the guided tours and just take a weekend or weekday to try your luck at spotting a bald eagle, you may want to visit these sites (click to visit the area via Google Maps):<br /><ul><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bagnell+Dam,+Lake+Ozark,+MO+65049/@38.2024208,-92.6260324,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87c4c5fd84844b91:0x65cf5130222ad5ae?hl=en" target="_blank">Lake of the Ozarks at Bagnell Dam</a>, just east of Bagnell, MO.</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Eagle+Bluffs+Wildlife+Conservation/@38.88514,-92.43347,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87dcb49b9ea33ffd:0xdc5866e5c77a15c6?hl=en" target="_blank">Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area</a>, on route K southwest of Columbia, MO.</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Lock+and+Dam+24,+Clarksville,+MO+63336/@39.3767137,-90.9084649,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87de609efd8679db:0x89608309c9133f3e?hl=en" target="_blank">Lock &amp; Dam 24</a> at Clarksville, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Lock+%26+Dam+25/@39.004375,-90.690573,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87dee741bc33ca23:0x3f8ac8adbd348962?hl=en" target="_blank">Lock &amp; Dam 25</a> east of Winfield, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mingo+National+Wildlife+Refuge/@37.01849,-90.13078,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87d7e9c899319e5f:0xf2858b93108b6716?hl=en" target="_blank">Mingo National Wildlife Refuge</a>, just northwest of Puxico, MO</li><ul><li>Personal note: I LOVE this place and bald eagles may be seen here nearly year round</li></ul><li>Moses Eagle Park, near Stella, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Old+Chain+of+Rocks+Bridge,+Madison,+IL+62040/@38.7594765,-90.1725417,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x87df4e43b1286fe3:0x7ab9da269280b2e3?hl=en" target="_blank">Old Chain of Rock Bridge</a>, south of I-270, just off Riverview Drive in St. Louis, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Audubon/@38.8692193,-90.1836723,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x87df44f91daad6d9:0xe3221c53673a0726?hl=en" target="_blank">Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area</a>, just east of West Alton, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Schell-Osage+Conservation+Area/@38.003878,-94.059326,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87c68cb1796c48c1:0xbd383eeb8cb015de?hl=en" target="_blank">Schell-Osage Conservation Area</a>, north of El Dorado Springs, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Smithville+Lake,+Missouri/@39.3928217,-94.4756146,11z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x87c04e8ba08a9c1d:0xf0a4b5efdef06608?hl=en" target="_blank">Smithville Lake</a>, north of Kansas City, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Squaw+Creek+National+Wildlife+Refuge/@40.082727,-95.252774,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87954efb1809c341:0x907cd7471a78d8f8?hl=en" target="_blank">Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge</a>, south of Mound City, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Swan+Lake+National+Wildlife+Refuge/@39.6114047,-93.1346666,12z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x87c26756fba33323:0xc80f7edd8caf82ea?hl=en" target="_blank">Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge</a>, south of Sumner, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Table+Rock+Lake,+Pine+A,+MO+65611/@36.5992671,-93.321721,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87cf1dba847f6f87:0x675e53a27cd08ebc?hl=en" target="_blank">Table Rock Lake</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Shepherd+of+the+Hills+Fish+Hatchery/@36.596836,-93.305525,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87cf1daf6fe23bb7:0xe7268d7da5241cb0?hl=en" target="_blank">Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery</a>, southwest of Branson, MO</li><li><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Truman+Reservoir,+Tom,+MO+65355/@38.263056,-93.404722,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x87c4401c1c01afcf:0x5fe96ee72218f33e?hl=en" target="_blank">Truman Reservoir</a>, west of Warsaw, MO</li></ul>As always, enjoy and thank you for reading. I hope to see you out takingin an eyeful of eagle this winter. Please remember to bundle up though,Missouri gets C-O-L-D during these prime eagle viewing months.<br /><br />Of course, if you want to get AMPED about the bald eagles, you may want to listen to a bit of this: Tick tock, tick, doo, doo, doo, doo... I wanna <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1f7eZ8cHpM" target="_blank">fly like an eagle</a>, to the sea, fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me...Hey, it sounds great when I sing it in my shower...<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information: </span></h2><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/events/eagledays" target="_blank">MDC Eagle Days Webpage</a><br /><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bald.eagle.closeup.arp-sh.750pix.jpg#filelinks" target="_blank">Additional Information On The Bald Eagle Photo At Top</a><br /><br /><ul></ul>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-79886323821865699732014-11-18T11:26:00.000-06:002014-11-18T11:43:38.140-06:00Buford Mountain Conservation Area: Take Time To Take It Slow<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7474/15505804947_39e3b8b616_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7474/15505804947_39e3b8b616_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />In today's world it seems nearly everything moves fast and sometimes it may seem to move too fast. The week may speed by in a blur, leaving you to wonder... What did I do this week? What did I accomplish? Where are my keys? After a week like this, it's time to slow down. Way down. I just so happen to know that Buford Mountain Conservation Area is an extraordinary place to do it, and I will assure you, when you've finished the 10.6 mile loop you'll know what you did, what you accomplished, but your keys... Well, that's on you.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">The (3rd) Top of Missouri: Big Buford</span></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3954/15689049861_da86cd0102_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3954/15689049861_da86cd0102_b.jpg" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Keep an eye out for this low stone wall as you scale Big Buford.</td></tr></tbody></table>Buford Mountain Conservation Area is located just a few miles North of Ironton, Missouri off of the inconspicuous Route U. The mountain itself is actually more of a ridge, accentuated by a series of five high points along its spine. The first, and tallest point, on the trail has been nicknamed "Big Buford". As you climb its steep, rocky sides, keep an eye out for an old stone wall, evidence that early homesteaders laid claim to this area at one time, stone by stone. Big Buford peaks at 1740 feet above sea level, which happens to lay its claim to the 3rd highest peak in the state. How's that for a bit of an accomplishment? Hey, you didn't need any oxygen or Sherpas! Sure, not everyone may hold that to be a true Herculean feat, but I'll tell you what; after making the nearly 700 foot ascent to the wooded top of Big Buford over the winding rock and dirt surfaced trail, I'm pretty sure you'll feel a true sense of triumph. However, that sense of triumph may be slightly trumped by the fact that Big Buford is wooded, pretty heavily wooded in fact, and that makes for no sweeping vistas, no awe inspiring horizon to scan, no <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0iqg2UanEc" target="_blank">I Can See for Miles and Miles</a> (I love The Who, don't you?) moment. But wait... Just put The Who on pause for a moment, because your Miles and Miles view exists just a bit further down the trail at a place called Bald Knob.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">The "Moonscape": Peak Two</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8580/15667271376_b67471dec0_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8580/15667271376_b67471dec0_b.jpg" width="213" /></a></div>As you make your way toward the spectacular view at Bald Knob, you will first make your way over two more peaks and these aren't just "hike over" territory either. As you make your way down from Big Buford, keep your eyes open for the first of six wildlife watering holes which line this trail, placed there due to the lack of any real natural water source in the area. As the trail begins to once again gain elevation, you will find yourself near the second overall peak on the trail. It is here that the dense hardwood begins to make way for a very interesting formation of rock. It is here, at a touch over 1680 feet in elevation that the hardened granite stone of which the mountain is primarily composed of, known as ryholite, is completely exposed giving you access to your first encounter with one of a few "glades" located on the trail's route. It is this exposure that gave me a sense of what it must feel like to hike a bit on the moon, there is little vegetation, save for some lichen and moss growth upon the smooth stone floor, and I watched as the fall foliage, free from their tree moorings, swept across the desert like surface. I spent a few minutes here, one due to it being so beautifully stark and two... Well, I was a bit tired, that was two peaks one at 1740 and this one at 1680, in the span of about a mile.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">The Fork: Peak Three</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7579/15505568178_997e34ceba_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7579/15505568178_997e34ceba_b.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>As you start descending from the "moonscape" second peak, you'll make your way past another wildlife watering hole and find yourself climbing back to around 1600 feet, by now I hope you've realized this trail is a quad burner. This third peak is similar to what you found at the top of Big Buford, a fairly heavily wooded peak with some large rocks scattered here and there. As you crest this third peak, you will soon find yourself at a fork in the trail that marks the beginning of the Buford Mountain loop. It is at this junction that you can continue left (Northwest) and head to Bald Knob or right (Northeast). Most visitors certainly bear on to the left trail and make their way toward the gorgeous view from Bald Knob, and that is the way I took. The trail is marked with directional arrows at this point too, although they may be somewhat obscured by forest growth. I'll be honest with you here as well, many hikers do not take the full 10.6 loop hike at Buford Mountain, many hike to Bald Knob and back, putting the total mileage at closer to 6.6 miles, which is still a pretty decent hike.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">The View: Bald Knob</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7556/15689030941_59a424aeb3_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="224" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7556/15689030941_59a424aeb3_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />As you begin your climb up the fourth peak, you can begin to cue "Miles and Miles", because the forest canopy begins to quickly thin, and you enter another beautiful glade area as you near the top of Bald Knob. But, before you get to the official scenic overlook, you may find a less worn trail that leads off slightly to the West, following that faint trail led me to a wonderful appetizer of a view of the Belleview Valley below, complete with a small fire pit and boulders to perch upon. In fact, I thought I had stumbled upon the <i>official</i> Bald Knob view here and took a TON of pictures, not realizing that the actual infamous vista was really a few more yards to the North.<br /><br /><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3954/15505793287_f9d108a493_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3954/15505793287_f9d108a493_b.jpg" width="320" /></a>However, if you decide to stick to the main trail only, don't be worried, as you approach Bald Knob you will once again begin to <i>real </i>Bald Knob overlook. It is at this overlook, at this time, no doubt with "Miles and Miles" playing softly through your earbuds, that you will be granted one heck of a view. A view that stretches over miles of the Belleview Valley will sprawl below you and if you've made this trek in late October you nay be treated with the brilliant fall pallet of oranges, reds, tans, and violets of the foliage. Quite simply THIS is the view you are looking for, and it is gorgeous. The overlook comes complete with a "posing" boulder, which will allow you to gain even a bit more elevation from which to survey your new kingdom from 1560 feet above sea level and maybe even snap a selfie or two. Even my hairy hiking buddy, Hyatt, had to get in on the view, he perched on the boulder, flashed me a toothy smile and I just had to take his picture...<br />see markers and signage. In fact, there is a <a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7546/15689011601_63320089a0_b.jpg" target="_blank">rather large sign, complete with arrow</a> that directs you quite well to just the right spot to take it all in.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">The Rest: Peak Five &amp; The Valley</span></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3937/15505111019_4d5d472ffa_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3937/15505111019_4d5d472ffa_b.jpg" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Can you spot the 4-pointer?</td></tr></tbody></table>I'll be honest, after the view from Bald Knob the rest of the hike had a hard time keeping up. But honestly, I loved this hike. I had a hard time saying goodbye to the sweeping view offered at Bald Knob, but eventually made my way down the trail, passing another wildlife watering hole, and then back up to the fifth peak. At the top of peak five, many of the trees appeared dead, with brittle branches covered in lichens and moss, but the undergrowth was thick with many new saplings quickly reaching their way to the sun. I continued on and began to descend from the fifth peak and into the valley, which would comprise a good portion of the back side of the loop. As I neared the bottom, I was greeted by a large grove of cedars, and it was here that I nearly missed my turn to stay on the loop. There was a small arrow pointing to the East, but I missed it, luckily I caught a small break in identifying the trail seemed to split here. The odd thing about the split was that the "wrong" trail was better worn than the trail that continued the loop.<br /><br />As I made my way through the valley, I concentrated on just taking it slow and taking it all in. Then, I came to notice a great deal of wildlife activity around me. Squirrels twittered at me from their lofty tree homes, I heard turkeys clucking in the distance and I was even lucky enough to happen upon a small four-point buck who was out grazing the plentiful acorns as noon neared. Which brings me to a quick warning, the MDC does allow hunting in this area, particularly hunting of squirrel, turkey and deer, so please be aware of any possible <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/seasons/hunting" target="_blank">Missouri hunting seasons</a> as you may want to postpone your hike or tread a bit more carefully and brightly than usual at those times.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Directions:</span><span style="color: orange;"><br /></span></h2><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m27!1m12!1m3!1d404427.28849846515!2d-90.43242817740719!3d37.63537350367829!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m12!1i0!3e6!4m3!3m2!1d37.333450899999995!2d-89.57322289999999!4m5!1s0x87d9b6cf64a7eff5%3A0xb76db583d68e3196!2sBuford+Mountain+Conservation+Area%2C+Bismarck%2C+MO+63624!3m2!1d37.716376!2d-90.701032!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1416330272523" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe><br /><h2> </h2><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information: </span></h2><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kllrphoto/sets/72157646761450294/" target="_blank">My Buford Mountain Flickr Album</a>: More snaps from my hike through the area <br /><a href="http://mdc4.mdc.mo.gov/applications/moatlas/AreaSummaryPage.aspx?txtAreaID=7727" target="_blank">Buford Mountain Conservation Area Summary Page</a>: MDC Information<br /><a href="http://extra.mdc.mo.gov/documents/area_brochures/7727map.pdf" target="_blank">Buford Mountain Area Map</a>: Provided by the MDC<br /><a href="http://extra.mdc.mo.gov/documents/area_brochures/7727.pdf" target="_blank">Buford Mountain Area Information</a>: Provided by the MDC<br /><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Google My Tracks Information:</span></h2><iframe height="480" src="https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=ze-0L7nrT8OQ.kww8sGl77msQ" width="640"></iframe> Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-91959115384037718792014-11-11T15:41:00.000-06:002015-09-02T09:14:24.563-05:00Giant City State Park: Giant City Nature Trail<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3896/15123063898_f0484f5bcd_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3896/15123063898_f0484f5bcd_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />There are times in which Mother Nature takes the subtle approach. She gently nudges you, providing you a wondrous moment or a special little insight to what makes her tick. And then there are times that she gets right in your face, causing you to be unable to look away, and assuring that you notice her grandeur, her beauty, her utter uniqueness... As you set tread to the Giant City Nature Trail be prepared, Mother Nature is moving in close, she'll be sure that after this short one mile loop trail you'll be fully aware of her rare and unique beauty. <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3907/15309641775_6e0194a836_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3907/15309641775_6e0194a836_b.jpg" width="213" /></a></div>The beauty of the Giant City Nature Trail certainly lies within its unique "streets". These passageways wind through colossal slabs of sandstone, which loom far above you and sending trees which look to grown upon their surface to grow quickly or never find the sun. Each of these large sandstone structures seem to form buildings which line the streets, with lines so straight they seem as though they could have only been carved by a master stonemason, as nature so often abhors presumed conformity and conventionality. But it is this seeming conformity, these straight, towering angular blocks which dwarf you and your fellow hikers, that make this area so unique from the rest of the park. In fact, this area is a bit reminiscent of the <a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/03/panther-den-dont-forget-your-map.html#.VGJ4cMnYfSO">Panther Den Wilderness</a>, only the Giant City Nature Trail is far more accessible and has a well worn trail to follow.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3841/15123139957_74db4e1d69_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3841/15123139957_74db4e1d69_b.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>These massive stone structures have, no doubt, awed mankind for millennia, with man obviously attempting to leave behind their marks upon the stone, the same way that the stone had left its lasting mark upon them. If you inspect the walls carefully you may come upon a pair of names carved upon the sandstone walls in 1862, by Theodore Wilson and his brother Albert during the Civil War. The pair's stoney autographs have become a popular carving to seek out and if you look very carefully, you may be able to even make out the haunting face in the rock wall that opposes it. During our visit, someone had defaced the the Giant City Trail "face" by painting an outline around the image, hopefully with time the paint used will fade and the face will again become a bit more eerie. Time may slip by quickly as you read the many inscriptions upon the walls, searching those breadcrumbs left which bare silent witness to those explorers who shared this same trail, same route, same beauty with you decades before.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7577/15583338850_604ee73103_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7577/15583338850_604ee73103_b.jpg" width="212" /></a></div>After you have gazed and searched the etchings of visitors past, you will walk through a small walkway bordered by sandstone and under a precariously perched boulder. As you make your way through, it is hard not to have a quick second of doubt as to whether you should pass under or not, as I will admit, I had a quick thought of, 'what if today is the day that rock decides to fall'? It is also another great place to take a few more family photos and makes for a great "look at what I'm holding up" props. There are still plenty of Giant City buildings left to awe and amaze you, and you may even find the opportunity to scramble your way upon them to gain an additional view of the Giant City streets on which you have now tread.<br /><br /><br /><span style="color: orange;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Directions </span></b></span>(click the Google Map below to enter in your address)<br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m29!1m12!1m3!1d202699.50020135994!2d-89.50510826579529!3d37.45647907398225!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m14!1i0!3e6!4m5!1s0x8877853694cf77fb%3A0x80901cff3a8d5f92!2sCape+Girardeau%2C+MO!3m2!1d37.3058839!2d-89.51814759999999!4m5!1s0x88776c91524190fd%3A0xe77a221f0fa28700!2sGiant+City+State+Park%2C+235+Giant+City+Rd%2C+Makanda%2C+IL+62958!3m2!1d37.606342!2d-89.186843!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1414772855224" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe><br /><b>Giant City State Park</b><br />235 Giant City Road<br />Makanda, IL 62958<br />(618) 457-4836<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><b>More Information:&nbsp;</b></span></span> </h2><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/11/giant-city-state-park-stonefort-nature.html">Giant City State Park Stonefort Nature Trail</a> - Be sure to hit this trail too!<br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/10/giant-city-state-park-devils-standtable.html#.VecDkpdGRVc">Giant City State Park Devil's Standtable</a> - Another GREAT trail in Giant City <br /><br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GC.HTM" target="_blank">Giant City State Park</a> - Official IDNR Homepage<br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GNC/Trails.htm" target="_blank">Giant City Trails</a> -&nbsp; A list of all eight established trails<br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GNC/VisitorMap.pdf" target="_blank">Giant City Visitor Maps</a> - Maps provided by the IDNR of the entire park<br /><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kllrphoto/sets/72157647871051495/" target="_blank">More Photos From Giant City State Park</a> - My Flickr Album for Giant City State Park Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-62733002887853351382014-11-10T08:30:00.000-06:002014-11-10T08:30:03.318-06:00Free Photography Class At Kirksville's MDC Office!<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5329/6918091764_7f8477d052_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5329/6918091764_7f8477d052_b.jpg" height="426" width="640" /></a></div><br />Personally, I love taking pictures and feel nearly naked on a hike if I don't have my handy Nikon by my side. I've caught wildlife at play, fragile local wildflowers blooming, and my family's adventures forever through the digital eye of my camera. I value every single snap of my camera's shutter, and I can now look back through those photos and find myself instantly teleported to that moment in time. If you too love photography or are just thinking about taking it up, you may want to read on about a free class the MDC is offering in Kirksville, MO.<br /><br />If you're lucky enough to live near the Missouri Department of Conservation's Kirksville, MO office you can take advantage of a fantastic free class on nature photography this Saturday, November 15 at 1:00 p.m. The class is open to all ages, but children are required to be accompanied by an adult, and no registration is required. So bring your digital camera and dress for the season, who knows, you may very well find your inner Ansel Adams!<br /><br /><b><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: large;">Directions &amp; Address:</span></span></b><br /><br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m27!1m12!1m3!1d1593235.9779028182!2d-91.0750876!3d38.745603450000004!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m12!1i0!3e6!4m3!3m2!1d37.3316064!2d-89.5810108!4m5!1s0x87e80efda86d803d%3A0x55510f071647c258!2s3500+S+Baltimore+St%2C+Kirksville%2C+MO+63501!3m2!1d40.159600499999996!2d-92.571899!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1415131808255" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe><br /><b>Missouri Department of Conservation: Northeast Regional Office</b><br />3500 S. Baltimore Street<br />Kirksville, MO 63501<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">For additional information or questions on this event, you can call MDC Naturalist Amanda Moore at (660) 785-2420 or visit the Missouri Department of Conservation's event page by clicking <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/join-mdc-class-nature-photography-kirksville-office" target="_blank">here</a>.</div>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-65705602003978283642014-11-03T13:12:00.001-06:002015-09-02T09:14:39.513-05:00Giant City State Park: Stonefort Nature Trail<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3872/15123073537_7c23266705_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3872/15123073537_7c23266705_b.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />Fried Chicken. More importantly, and according to a family friend,the World's Very Best Fried Chicken served in an all you can eat familystyle. That, is what truly brought me to Giant City State Park, locatedjust outside of Carbondale, IL. But what I found, besides the absolutelydelicious fried chicken, was an astoundingly gorgeous and completelyunique area, filled with a hiker's wish list of things to do, see,explore and, of course, eat!<br /><br />With so many differenttrails to explore in Giant City State Park I've decided to break them upinto more easily "digestible" single review trails, starting here with the Stonefort Nature Trail...<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3937/15505917157_4d3c401b67_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="133" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3937/15505917157_4d3c401b67_b.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>We began our whole excursion in GiantCity State Park pondering exactly what a "Stonefort" was, and since weall had a different idea of what it may actually be we decided to makethe Stonefort Nature Trail our first official stop. Little did we know, but we actuallycaught a glimpse of the Stonefort Nature Trail's breathtakingobservation point from atop an 80 foot sandstone bluff as we entered themain park.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">So, Exactly What Is A "Stonefort"? </span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5576/15306551491_f5f904af73_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5576/15306551491_f5f904af73_b.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>Thisone-third of a mile loop trail took us on a tour of an ancient"stonefort", one of ten wall-like structures, constructed entirely ofheavy stone, believed to have been erected in the Late Woodland periodbetween 600AD - 900AD in Southern Illinois. Each of these ancient arrangements have been discovered on top of hills or promontories and were oncebelieved to have been used as some type of stone fortification, thusgiving them the name "Stonefort". These unique walls, consisting ofheavy stones, are now believed to have been constructed as meetingplaces or perhaps ceremonial locations. The original wall that sat atopthis particular trail was actually removed, dismantled by early Europeansettlers to the area, who used the heavy stones as building materials.The low stone base is all that really remains of the original site,however, in 1934 the Civilian Conservation Corps (whom I can't thankenough) rebuilt the wall into the site that we see today. During the reconstruction of the wall, the CCC found many Native American artifacts including a good deal of pottery. "I personallylove sites like this that carry that hint of ancient mystery, sites suchas this and <a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/05/rock-pile-mountain-great-place-to-get.html#.VFOcmxZTo_h">Rock Pile Mountain </a>alwayspique my curiosity of early Native Americans and, while marveling attheir accomplishments and ingenuity, I also find myself theorizing on what these sites may havebeen used for.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">But What About The Actual Trail?</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3873/15122982640_cce03ea832_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3873/15122982640_cce03ea832_b.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>The Stonefort Nature Trail itself iswell worn, with many roots and rocks embedded in its surface, which somemay find a bit difficult to walk on. The trail also winds it's way upthe side of a small hill, where you instantly come upon the structureitself upon arriving at the top. If you continue the loop, around thetop of the hill, you will come to a spectacular overlook from an 80 footsandstone bluff which overlooks the park's entrance. A word of warningfor those of you with small children and faint hearts, it is a STEEP,LONG drop to the bottom of this bluff and there are no handrails. Thetrail also narrows a bit here making it a somewhat dangerous portion ofthe trail. For those that continue along the loop, you'll find anotheroverlook along the way along with a carpeting of moss, ferns andwildflowers, sheltered beneath a wide canopy of local hardwoods anevergreens. This trail is well worth the short hike, even if you decidethe breathtaking 80 foot overlook perhaps steals a bit too much of yourbreath.<br /><br /><span style="color: orange;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Directions </span></b></span>(click the Google Map below to enter in your address)<br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m29!1m12!1m3!1d202699.50020135994!2d-89.50510826579529!3d37.45647907398225!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m14!1i0!3e6!4m5!1s0x8877853694cf77fb%3A0x80901cff3a8d5f92!2sCape+Girardeau%2C+MO!3m2!1d37.3058839!2d-89.51814759999999!4m5!1s0x88776c91524190fd%3A0xe77a221f0fa28700!2sGiant+City+State+Park%2C+235+Giant+City+Rd%2C+Makanda%2C+IL+62958!3m2!1d37.606342!2d-89.186843!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1414772855224" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe><br /><b>Giant City State Park</b><br />235 Giant City Road, Makanda, IL 62958<br />(618) 457-4836<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><b>More Information:&nbsp;</b></span></span> </h2><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2014/10/giant-city-state-park-devils-standtable.html#.VecDkpdGRVc">Giant City State Park Devil's Standtable Nature Trail</a> - Be sure to hit this trail too! <br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GC.HTM" target="_blank">Giant City State Park</a> - Official IDNR Homepage<br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GNC/Trails.htm" target="_blank">Giant City Trails</a> -&nbsp; A list of all eight established trails<br /><a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/GNC/VisitorMap.pdf" target="_blank">Giant City Visitor Maps</a> - Maps provided by the IDNR of the entire park<br /><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kllrphoto/sets/72157647871051495/" target="_blank">More Photos From Giant City State Park</a> - My Flickr Album for Giant City State Park <br /><br />Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-13854319061097737902014-08-14T07:01:00.000-05:002014-09-09T11:20:24.282-05:00Hawn State Park: The Happiness of Hawn<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3885/14911069325_7254f1005b_h.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3885/14911069325_7254f1005b_h.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />To me, the happiness of Hawn State Park lies completely in its pure variety of ways to enjoy it. Are you a rock lover? Visit Hawn to see one of Missouri's best examples of Lamotte Sandstone, an old, coarse-grained sandstone that overlies ancient igneous bedrock. Think Missouri State Parks should be "for the birds"? Well this location sees a great variety of our fine feathered friends, including pine warblers, chickadees, and short eared owls. Love the gentle gurgling of a crystal clear stream? You <i><b>have</b></i> to check out Pickle Creek, which has been designated an outstanding state water source due to its crystal clear waters, due in part to that Lamotte Sandstone above. Water lovers may also seek out the River Aux Vases, which meanders through the area, carving out steep valleys.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5570/14724460788_5cdc157c1b_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="213" src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5570/14724460788_5cdc157c1b_b.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>Then there are us hikers, and we're in for a particular treat as Hawn State Park presents us with four fantastic trails each of varying length and difficulty: the super short .70 mile <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/hawn_picklecreek.pdf">Pickle Creek Trail</a>, the 300 foot handicapped accessible <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/hawn_overlook.pdf" target="_blank">Overlook Trail</a>, the 9.75 mile <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/hawn_whisperingpines.pdf" target="_blank">Whispering Pines Trail</a>, and the shorter 3.75 mile <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/hawn_whiteoaks.pdf" target="_blank">White Oaks Trail</a>. Each of these well maintained trails allows us to take in all that Hawn has to offer including two backpacking camps on the Whispering Pines Trail for those who wish to take in the "wild" local nightlife, and that makes me happy!<br /><br />This is the second time I've hiked the White Oaks Trail in Hawn State Park, once in the fall of 2013 with my family and now the summer of 2014 with only my four-legged hiking buddy Hyatt, and I enjoyed every step of each journey. As if the changing seasons couldn't possibly provide enough change and variety, the White Oaks Trail itself constantly changes scenery and trail conditions as you hike. Like a Hollywood star vying for your attention, this hike seems to constantly attempt to outdo itself searching for new, fresh looks to give you. <br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">A GREAT Trailhead Begets a GREAT Journey</span></h2>I'll start at the very beginning, because it is one of the most important parts of the trail to me, the trailhead. At the clearly marked White Oak trailhead I found a very well stocked information area, which offered literature on other Missouri State Parks, many area maps, a billboard with important informational postings, a very convenient vault toilet, and, on my summer trip, an absence of cars! It appeared as though I may have one of Missouri's prettiest State Parks, all to myself (well not completely myself I did share a bit with my canine companion). <br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Variety, Variety, Variety...</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3910/14724420409_406b801fca_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3910/14724420409_406b801fca_b.jpg" width="266" /></a></div>Just past the trailhead the White Oak Trail itself starts out a bit "rugged", featuring stones intertwined withrich, earthy roots comprising the first bit of surface. Ifound myself looking down frequently, to assure my footing along thefirst half mile of the trail due to the rocks and roots, despite theelevation changing very, very little, I'm always a bit overly cautiouswhen hiking alone to not twist an ankle. <br /><br />Continuing down the trail as you approach the first White Connector (WC1, which will lead you to the Whispering Pines Trail), the rocks and roots make way and the trail itself morphs into to alandlocked sandy beach-like trail, bordered by beautiful trees and undergrowth. As you continue to hike, past WC1, the sand particles become progressively larger and larger until they areno longer grains of sand but pebbles and small rocks. Then I catch oneof my very favorite scents, pine, and the trail changes yet again, thescattered shortleaf pine needles cushioning my every step as I silentlystride the trail's well worn path through majestic native shortleaf pines and cedars. It is here, among the piney giants, that I let a bit of nature's chorus swell around me, listening as the bird's tenor song crescendos, while rhythmic crickets keep measure. The only thing more amazing than the shifting scenery is that I have traveled only a mile to see it all!<br /><br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3860/14724388690_8e629a53e2_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3860/14724388690_8e629a53e2_b.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Skullcap, it may sound scary it's actually quite beautiful.</td></tr></tbody></table>Continuing down the trail you will find the second White Connector (WC2: which also leads to the Whispering Pines Trial), you'll want to continue to the right to stay on the White Oaks Trail. In just a few yards from WC2, you will find the official White Oaks Trail loop. The White Oaks Trail loop will continue your journey through ever changing surroundings featuring some creek crossings, rock overlooks, boulders on which to scramble and maybe even some sweet edibles such as wild blackberries, hiding in the underbrush. Also be sure to keep an eye out for some truly stunning wildflowers such as the wild <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=yellow+lady-slippers&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;hs=ZTZ&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;channel=rcs&amp;source=lnms&amp;tbm=isch&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=NfXXU8SPA4KxyASC74GoAw&amp;ved=0CAkQ_AUoAg&amp;biw=1440&amp;bih=763" target="_blank">yellow lady-slippers orchid</a> (which I couldn't spy anywhere). But if you are lucky enough to find one of the yellow lady-slippers orchids, don't try to take it home, the orchid's roots are actually attached to fungal threads deep beneath the soil and once those threads are severed the orchid dies... plus you could net a $1,000 fine or win a fabulous stay in one of our finest concrete incarceration centers for digging them up as well (so I'd suggest taking lots of pictures instead, and maybe even sending some to us here). <br /><br />With so much to see and do along the way, the White Oaks Trail is a great solo or family hiking destination. There are a plethora of opportunities to splash about in a creek, take a side "off-trail" adventure into the underbrush to forage, climb the branches of a gnarled old cedar tree, bound from boulder to boulder, perch upon rock ledges, and so much more that the 3.75 mile length may never even be noticed by most, resulting in less of the dreaded "are we there yet's". This trail is truly diverse, overwhelmingly beautiful and simply begging for you to enjoy. As always, thank you for reading and <b>Happy Trails</b>!<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Something New: Google My Tracks</span></h2>Below is a little something new I'm trying, <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.maps.mytracks&amp;hl=en" target="_blank">Google's My Tracks</a>. Hopefully you'll be able to garner at least a bit of information from the trail map below. Although the mileage at the White Oaks Trailhead stakes out the trail at 3.75 miles, My Tracks placed the mileage at 4.09 miles, maybe I took a bit of a wider trail than they measured, or perhaps my phone's GPS was off by a few feet here and there. I just hope you find the information below helpful and if you do, please let me know.<br /><span style="color: orange;"><span style="color: white;">&nbsp;</span> </span><br /><iframe height="480" src="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/embed?mid=ze-0L7nrT8OQ.k-EMzIZkr5hw" width="640"></iframe> <br /><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><b>More Information:&nbsp;</b></span></span> </h2><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/hawn_whiteoaks.pdf" target="_blank">White Oaks Trail Map</a> (print it off and take it with you... just in case) <br /><a href="http://mostateparks.com/park/hawn-state-park" target="_blank">Hawn State Park homepage</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2013/08/how-to-take-great-day-hike.html#.U9fsWLHQrXt" target="_blank">How to Take a Great Dayhike</a><br /><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2013/08/tiny-tenacious-terrible-ticks.html#.U9fsfrHQrXt" target="_blank">Tiny. Tenacious. Terrible. Ticks.</a><br /><a href="http://mostateparks.com/" target="_blank">Missouri State Parks Homepage</a><br /><br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m29!1m12!1m3!1d404514.68369396526!2d-90.23539177121233!3d37.619313526317356!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m14!1i0!3e6!4m5!1s0x87d86617c5e2bedb%3A0xf8cc8445a6160260!2sHawn+State+Park%2C+12096+Park+Dr%2C+Ste.+Genevieve%2C+MO+63670!3m2!1d37.833479!2d-90.242042!4m5!1s0x8877853694cf77fb%3A0x80901cff3a8d5f92!2sCape+Girardeau%2C+MO!3m2!1d37.3058839!2d-89.51814759999999!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1406660525231" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-79420635032601895192014-07-18T11:45:00.001-05:002014-07-29T14:22:36.066-05:00What Are Your Thoughts On Missouri's Deer Management?<div style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KrtKrVWmYyU" width="560"></iframe><br /></div>We always love coming across a family of deer quietly grazing or stealthily slipping through the forest as we hike through their home. When I see these majestic creatures it always reminds me why we always attempt to leave no trace. In order to keep Missouri's deer population (which includes white-tailed deer, mule deer, and their hybrids) the Missouri Conservation Commission has recently approved proposed regulation changes to the <i>Wildlife Code of Missouri</i> regarding the operation of local hunting preserves and wildlife breeding facilities.<br /><br />These proposed regulation changes are up now, via the Secretary of State's Office at <a href="http://www.sos.mo.gov/adrules/moreg/current/v39n14/v39n14a.pdf" target="_blank">http://www.sos.mo.gov/adrules/moreg/current/v39n14/v39n14a.pdf</a> (beginning on page 7) and primarily address the Missouri Department of Conservation's strategy to minimize the spreading of diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease, in Missouri's deer population. Chronic Wasting Disease has been identified in some captive-deer operations and is always fatal, with no known cure as of now.<br /><br />According to the Missouri Department of Conservation website (mdconline) the cliffnotes version of the proposed regulations include:<br /><ul><li>Banning the imports of live deer from other states</li><li>Requiring new and expanding captive-cervid facilities to improve their fencing</li><li>All deer six months and older that perish in one of the captive facilities are to be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease</li><li>Requiring captive facilities to establish better record keeping</li><li>Prohibiting any new captive facilities to be built or established within 25 miles of confirmed Chronic Wasting Disease deaths</li></ul>Now is your time to let the Missouri Department of Conservation know if you agree with these proposed regulations. You may share your comments online with them at <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/deerhealth">mdc.mo.gov/deerhealth</a>.<br /><br />Keep in mind a healthy deer population is a huge boon to the state of Missouri, and with half a million deer hunters, two million wildlife watchers and many Missouri landowners who manage their property for deer all culminate in an annual economic benefit of a billion dollars!<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><b>More Information:&nbsp;</b></span></span></h2><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/deer-hunting/deer-diseases/chronic-wasting-disease" target="_blank">MDConline: Cronic Wasting Disease</a><br /><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/resources/2014/04/protecting_mo_white-tailed_deer.pdf" target="_blank">MDConline: Protecting Missouri's White-tailed Deer</a>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-40212765161977132322014-07-16T15:03:00.001-05:002014-07-29T13:45:43.595-05:00Sam A. Baker Park: Shut Ins Trail<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m2sA3b2_X0c/U8V_uCfydNI/AAAAAAAACWU/rotuJ2BYPA0/s1600/20140628_101924.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m2sA3b2_X0c/U8V_uCfydNI/AAAAAAAACWU/rotuJ2BYPA0/s1600/20140628_101924.jpg" height="360" width="640" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><br />Sam A. Baker is a popular Missouri State Park, let me stress <b><i>popular</i></b>... and why the heck not?! This park really seems to have it all, from zipping along on bicycle trails, grilling hotdogs over a campfire, popping a tent at one of two huge camping areas, taking a cooling dip in the clear St. Francis River, to hiking on one of four <a href="http://mostateparks.com/trails/sam-baker-state-park?type=hiking" target="_blank">trails</a>, there is a little something for everyone. There is an added bonus to Sam A. Baker too, if you happen to forget something back at home, the area boasts a Park Store that has just about anything you may need. But keep in mind, with so much to offer at Sam A. Baker, there are many who seek to really take advantage of it, and by that I mean, it may be a bit... crowded.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">First Impressions of the Park</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Wh6HW-z-eEs/U8WADg-0NBI/AAAAAAAACWo/L0VJfNJRXwA/s1600/20140628_113052_1-MOTION.gif" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Wh6HW-z-eEs/U8WADg-0NBI/AAAAAAAACWo/L0VJfNJRXwA/s1600/20140628_113052_1-MOTION.gif" height="320" width="180" /></a></div>My initial impressions of Sam A. Baker were fantastic, as we made our way down Highway 143 the trees began to envelop the road, creating a tunnel of green gently leading us toward our initial destination, <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/cg1_Baker_12_2012.pdf" target="_blank">Campground 1</a>. The campground was very nice, and despite the recent rains, our campsite (number 5) was relatively dry with only a few low spots gathering puddles. After pitching the tent we decided to take a nice, leisurely stroll through the campground. Making our way just a bit to the South we found the cool St. Francis River, nearly a clear as a window, carving out its gravel banks and creating perfect places to wade and swim in its refreshing waters. As we explored the campground further we found a very well traversed and well maintained <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/baker_pavedbicycle.pdf" target="_blank">Paved Bike Trail</a> to the North, which is quite a perk for the visiting camping jogger. This trail stretches 1.5 miles and travels from campground 1 all the way to the park store, it travels along State Highway 143 and allows for some picturesque views of Big Creek as well.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">It's All About the Amenities!</span></h2>After exploring the campground we journeyed over to the park store (which is VERY handy if you have found yourself forgetting something at home) and the park lodge. As Sam A. Baker does not allow you to transport your own firewood into the park, due to the emerald ash borer, so if you plan to have a campfire, be sure to pick up some wood at the store. Then while you're out you may like to take a quick stop at the Park Office and Visitor Center. There they will provide<a href="http://mostateparks.com/page/55143/recreational-equipment" target="_blank"> recreational equipment</a>, free of charge, that you may use by simply checking the items out. After taking quick tours of the amenities we returned back to our campsite, flush with wood for a cozy campfire, ice cold sodas and some delicious chips from the store. <br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">"Nocturnal Calls" and Camping</span></h2>Once back at our campsite we started up our fire (due to the damp wood this was quite the undertaking, thank the heavens for lighter fluid) and roasted up some hotdogs, marveled as the fireflies faint green glow lit the night, told a few stories and then decided to get a good rest so we could explore the park even more the next day. After zipping up the tent, lying atop my sleeping bag I soon found myself being "gently" lulled to sleep with the echoing <i>"Whoo HOOO"</i> and <i>"I'm SOOOOO Drunk"</i> mating calls of the Migrating Midwestern Hooter, which were interrupted only by the heavy and constant "Ker-Thunk!" of the all to closely located latrine door. We did have a laugh out loud moment as our border collie, Hyatt, spotted a huge raccoon that had made its way onto our picnic table and attempted to leap through the mesh window of our tent in order to chase the raccoon away.<br /><br />Upon awaking the next morning and with the migratory mating calls of the night now behind us, we decided to escape some of the more popular areas, in a desperate bid to get at least a small taste of the park's beauty without the crowds or noise. So we checked our area map and chose to set foot upon the <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/baker_shutins.pdf" target="_blank">Shut Ins Trail</a>, a quick mile and a quarter hike out from just behind the Park Lodge, to see if we could find a slightly more secluded swimming hole.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">The Shut Ins Trail</span></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-icPOC_TfkJo/U8bfSA3EcVI/AAAAAAAACYg/vxUWOludf3w/s1600/20140628_102814.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-icPOC_TfkJo/U8bfSA3EcVI/AAAAAAAACYg/vxUWOludf3w/s1600/20140628_102814.jpg" height="180" width="320" /></a></div>The Shut Ins Trail is wonderfully maintained; consisting of a well worn dirt path, sometimes sprinkled with gravel, and features low water bridges, handrails, and steps along the way. Children will find an easy hike on most of this route, and there are plenty of sights to see and share on your way along the path. We began our journey by heading downhill along the blue blazed trail with (what I believe to be) Big Creek bordering us just to the East. As we hiked about half a mile through the Sycamores, Cottonwoods and Sweet Gums we came upon a small off-shooting path, which we decided to investigate. Boy am I glad we did, because at the end of that path we found a gorgeous little waterfall, that wound its way through and over the large, moss covered dellenite boulders.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2rGqlxvmDRg/U8bfCBmm9nI/AAAAAAAACYY/jzFVNimUlYM/s1600/20140628_113536.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2rGqlxvmDRg/U8bfCBmm9nI/AAAAAAAACYY/jzFVNimUlYM/s1600/20140628_113536.jpg" height="200" width="112" /></a></div>After getting our fill of scrambling over the boulders we headed back to the main trail and continued on, with all of summer's colors seemingly on display as wildflowers competed for our attention along the trail. We followed the trail for nearly another half mile until we came to a fork, one path leading to the Big Creek shut ins (to the right) and another path leading up the hill toward a connection with the Mudlick Trail. The path that led to the Mudlick Trail boasted a Shelter, which marked the intersection of the two trails, but also heads up a steeper incline. After a short bit of consideration we chose to head towards the Big Creek shut ins for a refreshing dip. Seriously, could there have been any other decision to be made on a hot summer's day?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7VReR29_r90/U8bez_KLlVI/AAAAAAAACYU/L9TCXeopRNk/s1600/20140628_105403.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7VReR29_r90/U8bez_KLlVI/AAAAAAAACYU/L9TCXeopRNk/s1600/20140628_105403.jpg" height="180" width="320" /></a></div>The Big Creek shut ins seemed almost too good to be true, the area was wide, with water plenty deep enough for swimming and there were some low, flat cliffs that just begged to be jumped off. In fact, the water was at an almost perfect depth that day, but if you choose not to swim you could easily wade the shut ins, whose water was just a bit over chest high on our visit. We quickly found it was too good to be true, such a naturally beautiful swimmin' hole had spoken out and many had answered its call, within just a few minutes of our arrival the Big Creek shut in transformed from a peaceful watery respite to a rowdy outdoor roadhouse complete with <a href="http://www.thebestlittlefilmhouse.com/ekmps/shops/tblfh01/images/roadhouse-original-quad-1989-patrick-swayze-1790-p.jpg" target="_blank">Swazye'esque mullets</a> to boot. We swam for a bit more then decided to make our way back to camp for a spot of lunch. As we headed back down the trail, making our way toward the Park Lodge, we passed a steady stream of like minded visitors who may have been just like us, looking for that little hide-a-way in the middle of a very, very popular Missouri State Park.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Final Thoughts </span></h2>With so much to offer its no surprise that Sam A. Baker is so appealing to so many and there is no doubt that we'll return sometime and the 5.5 mile <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/baker_mudlick_0.pdf" target="_blank">Mudlick Trail</a> certainly looks very, very appealing, especially the Backpacker Camp located on a small spur of the Hike Only Section.. But the overall experience, for me, was it seemed simply too crowded. Sam A. Baker seemed (to me) more like a nature theme park than actual State Park and the campground, while very well maintained, was just a bit too... <b><i>popular</i></b>. <br /><h2><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><b>More Information:&nbsp;</b></span></span></h2><a href="http://mostateparks.com/park/sam-baker-state-park" target="_blank">Sam A. Baker State Park Homepage</a><br /><a href="http://mostateparks.com/trails/sam-baker-state-park?type=hiking" target="_blank">Sam A. Baker Hiking Trails</a><br />&nbsp;- <a href="http://mostateparks.com/sites/default/files/trail_maps/baker_shutins.pdf" target="_blank">Shut In Trail Map </a><br /><a href="http://fishing.mdc.mo.gov/reports/st-francis-river-above-wappapello-lake" target="_blank">Fishing Report and Prospects: St. Francis River (above Wappappello Lake)</a><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://hikingmo.blogspot.com/2013/08/tiny-tenacious-terrible-ticks.html#.U1PKS1eTKVo" target="_blank">Tiny. Tenacious. Terrible. Ticks.</a> - A post on how to keep those bloodsuckers at bay!<br /><a href="http://hikingmo.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-to-take-great-day-hike.html#.U1PKxVeTKVo" target="_blank">How To Take A GREAT Day Hike</a> - Hitting the trail? Then you may want to check out these tips.Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-40458087050500463662014-06-20T11:44:00.000-05:002014-06-20T11:44:52.533-05:00The 100 Missouri Miles Challenge. Think You Can Do It?<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nc0SrtkQbsU/U6RilGtN09I/AAAAAAAAB-4/ivunpKl75co/s1600/20140406_111338.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nc0SrtkQbsU/U6RilGtN09I/AAAAAAAAB-4/ivunpKl75co/s1600/20140406_111338.jpg" height="360" width="640" /></a></div><br />There is a lot to be proud of here in Missouri, and our State Parks and the miles and miles of well maintained hiking trails they offer are just one of the many, many cool things that many Missourians (including myself) may take for granted from time to time. Well, <i>we</i> may let our appreciation of the Missouri trail system slip from time to time, but <a href="http://www.americantrails.org/awards/2013awards/state13.html" target="_blank">American Trails</a> (a national, non-profit organization that works on behalf of our country's hiking, biking, and riding trails) named little ol' MO the distinction of "Best Trails State" for 2013-14 and our Missouri State Parks had a HUGE impact in Missouri receiving that distinction as they accounted for nearly 1,000 miles of Missouri's trails! Now, be sure to keep in mind that the the Missouri Department of Conservation also oversees approximately 600 miles of trails and Federal Agencies (such as the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife, and US Forest Service) account for 700 miles of trails, so I'm certainly not calling them slouches as all.<br /><br />Well, all this hub-bub about the quality of Missouri Trails set into motion a challenge from our Governor, Jay Nixon, to get Missourians off the couch and onto one of our awesome state trails in 2013. The gauntlet was tossed as he asked for residents to take in countless lungfuls of fresh air, some of the most spectacular scenery in the state, and memories that will reside with them for a lifetime as they logged 100 miles on Missouri's trails. The response was enormous and we racked up over 1.1 MILLION Missouri miles in 2013. The Governor is hopeful that we will beat that amount this year as the challenge was once again put forth on March 20th.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XGVBmlZw9H8/U6RjCWf-8NI/AAAAAAAAB_A/0IdLEO83VPM/s1600/100+Missouri+Miles+Website.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XGVBmlZw9H8/U6RjCWf-8NI/AAAAAAAAB_A/0IdLEO83VPM/s1600/100+Missouri+Miles+Website.jpg" height="257" width="640" /></a></div><br />So if you plan to hike, run, walk, paddle, bike, hop, skip, jump, roll or plan any other form of locomotion on Missouri's trails why don't you join the challenge today? Just hop over to <a href="http://100missourimiles.com/">100missourimiles.com</a> today and sign up. There is still plenty of time for you to put in your own #100MoMiles!<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information</span></h2><a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/2013/08/how-to-take-great-day-hike.html#.U6RkMbHb5-x">How To: Take A GREAT Day Hike </a><br /><a href="http://100missourimiles.com/" target="_blank">100 Missouri Miles Homepage</a><br /><a href="http://mostateparks.com/" target="_blank">Missouri State Parks</a><br /><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/" target="_blank">Missouri Department of Conservation Homepage</a>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-10753401916677657862014-05-30T20:48:00.002-05:002014-05-30T20:53:33.037-05:00Too Hot? Take In Some Nature Art This June.<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5105/5622848774_d0e9881fe4_z.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="426" src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5105/5622848774_d0e9881fe4_z.jpg" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Sorry, not by Marcus Janzow. But I wanted to have some type of picture here.</td></tr></tbody></table>I'll admit, Midwestern Missouri summer days can be absolutely brutal and if it's too hot outside for you perhaps you may want to take in some local art at the Cape Girardeau Nature Center. Beginning in June you can see photographer and wildlife biologist, Marcus Janzow's photography exhibit, titled "Diverse Landscapes of Southeast Missouri".<br /><br />Janzow concentrated on areas in Southeast Missouri, and the Missouri Department of Conservation hopes that after seeing the beautiful exhibit that you will want to get out and visit the areas photographed. And to be inspired by his photos simply stop by the (fully air conditioned) Cape Girardeau Nature Center during regular business hours in June, Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. If you find it&nbsp; cool enough you may even want to take to one of the trails located right outside of the Nature Center's doors as well, like the <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/resources/2010/05/6418_4237.pdf" target="_blank">White Oak Trace</a> trail.<br /><br />Of course, I certainly hope you get out there and take to a trail to experience the great Missouri trail system as well, and I'd always love to see your pictures!<br /><br />For more information on the June exhibit visit the Missouri Department of Conservation's release page here: <span class="field-content"><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/node/28356">http://mdc.mo.gov/node/28356</a>. </span>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-90650264439048981352014-05-22T15:15:00.006-05:002014-05-23T22:53:50.542-05:00Taking In A Meteor Shower: The Camelopardalids Meteor Shower<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1312/GeminidMeteorShower2012_JeffDai.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1312/GeminidMeteorShower2012_JeffDai.jpg" height="426" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The Geminid Meteor Shower 2012 (Jeff Dai) @ nasa.gov</td></tr></tbody></table><span style="color: red;">*UPDATE Friday, May 23 10:53 pm CST: Listening live to the coverage on <a href="http://events.slooh.com/" target="_blank">slooh.com</a> they are advising to keep an eye out for the show to begin at around 2-4 a.m. Eastern or 1-3 a.m. Central... I really advise listening to the coverage, very intelligent, very informative.</span><br /><br />Astronomers are predicting that this Friday and Saturday's Camelopardalids meteor shower may be this year's most extraordinary universal display. Currently the experts are predicting between <b>100-400 meteors per hour</b>, which is far more than normal showers and dwarfs the most recent Lyrid shower which peaked at a measly 20 or so meteors per hour and we are in a PRIME spot here in the states to take it all in!<br /><br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/533627main_halleys.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/533627main_halleys.jpg" height="146" width="200" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Not actually 209E/LINEAR, but you <br />get the idea... right?<br />Halleys Comet: nasa.gov</td></tr></tbody></table>The Camelopardalids meteor shower is brought to you by it's proud momma, a comet named 209P/LINEAR which has a rather melodic sound to it doesn't it? This comet will be streaking near Earth on May 29, blowing us a flame streaking kiss from a scant 8.3 million kilometers away. It's due to this petite (209P/LINEAR is only 600 meters around, slim and trim by comet standards) comet's passing that we will find our Earthly trajectory passing right in her debris field, which is what will actually create this spacial display. The meteors we'll see this year are actually left over interplanetary grains, pebbles, rocks and junk from previous 209P/LINEAR visits, ejected over years from her nucleus. This year we'll find ourselves going through many of her old debris fields and as all of bits and bobs smack our atmosphere here on Earth it burns up, creating those sweet flaming meteors that may make some of us think of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKayo-nS1F8&amp;list=RDuKayo-nS1F8#t=5" target="_blank">Aerosmith</a>.<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">Easy Step By Step Directions For Viewing Camelopardalids</span></h2><ol><li>Pray for a clear night.* Don't pray? Then wish. Don't wish? Then birthday's must stink at your house... </li><li>Wait until dark on Friday, May 23. Take note of where the sun set.</li><li>Open your front door.</li><li>Walk outside.</li><li>Put down a blanket and take a seat. </li><li>Face where the sun went down.</li><li>Turn 90 degrees to your right, it should face you north.</li><li>Look up. If you don't see anything, try repeating the steps above every 30 minutes or so.</li><li>Commence your thoughts of how small you are in relation to the cosmos or how cute Liv Tyler was in Armageddon as the meteors streak across the sky.</li></ol>*Didn't get a clear night? Don't worry, you can hop online and watch the show live over on <a href="http://live.slooh.com/" target="_blank">Slooh Community Observatory's webpage</a>. Go ahead and put down your blanket, turn out the lights and pop that cold beverage anyway as you watch. <br /><ol></ol><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Specific Directions For Viewing Camelopardalids</span></h2>For best viewing any meteor shower your should try to get as far away from artificial light sources as possible, so go out and ruin Make Out Point for a night, sending those teens to smooch somewhere else, or just take a drive out from town, find a quiet public place that is open and sit on your hood to enjoy the show (I'm talking about the meteors here, not the smooching teenagers). If the furthest you can roam from home is your own porch or yard, just turn out as many lights as possible and find the darkest area of your own personal space.<br /><br />Once you've procured your favorite spot, and perhaps laid down a blanket, or popped a cold beverage it's time to terrify the children with stories of how the meteors are actually brain eating aliens preparing to land, bent on world domination and hungering for the fresh grey matter of children. No, on second thought don't do that last step... Terrifying children, although fun, can have horrible results on their adult lives.<br /><br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/102675main_Westlake1_med.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/102675main_Westlake1_med.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">From Nasa's Image Gallery</td><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><br /></td></tr></tbody></table>Now, the meteor shower is named Camelopardalids after the relatively obscure constellation of, you guessed it, Camelopardalids or "the giraffe" (you thought camel, didn't you?). Given that this is the first time I've ever heard of this particular constellation, I wanted to get a better bead on exactly where to look for the meteors, and as luck would have it, the giraffe is pretty darn close to that blazing star Polaris, better known as the North Star. So, now I know to find the brightest star in the heavens and fix my gaze that-a-way. However, with the prediction of so many meteors, you should be able to find the most active area relatively easily.<br /><br />So, you've waited for dark, found a nice spot, laid down your blanket, popped open a cold beverage and found the brightest star in the sky... What's next? Well, give your eyes a few seconds to adjust, watch for streaks, say ooh and aah, and maybe take a few pictures. Wondering how to take pictures of the meteor shower, well that's a bit out of my wheelhouse, here's a <a href="http://www.steves-digicams.com/knowledge-center/how-tos/digital-photography-101-how-to-photograph-meteor-showers.html" target="_blank">good article</a> though. The last thing to do, and this is completely optional (but I feel very important); have someone else there to revel and marvel in the celestial beauty, wonder and amaze at how distant rocks and debris can put on such a splendid show, seemingly just for you.<br /><h2><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="color: orange;">Useless Trivia That May Make You Sound Smart</span></span></h2>Up there a few paragraphs above I told you the meaning of the name Camelopardalids is the giraffe. But, I'm sure that you looked at that name and thought, "How the heck did they get giraffe from Camelopardalids?" Well, here's the skinny and I'm not talking about the knobby knees of the giraffe here. The name camelopardalids is actually Roman, and it comes from their attempt to describe this crazy animal they had found in Africa. This animal, which was "part leopard" and "part camel" became the camelopardalids. As G.I. Joe would say, "knowing is half the battle", use this information tonight to sound super smart as you take in the shower. <br /><br />Happy meteoric trails and thanks, as always, for reading!<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information</span></h2><a href="http://live.slooh.com/" target="_blank">Slooh Community Observatory Homepage</a> - A great place to watch the meteors, should clouds try to ruin your night.<br /><a href="http://www.steves-digicams.com/knowledge-center/how-tos/digital-photography-101-how-to-photograph-meteor-showers.html" target="_blank">Steve's Digicams: Digital Photography 101: How to photograph meteor showers</a><br /><a href="http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/mays-surprise-meteor-shower/" target="_blank">Sky and Telescope: Ready for May's Surprise Meteor Shower?</a><br /><a href="http://nasasearch.nasa.gov/search/images?affiliate=nasa&amp;m=false&amp;query=meteor+shower" target="_blank">NASA's Sweet Gallery of Meteor Shower Images - To get you in the mood</a>Local Trekshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/18278125395459409677noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-7171441770286038712014-05-22T08:36:00.003-05:002014-05-22T10:32:06.969-05:00Come Fly With Me: MDC's Peregrine Falcon Web Cam<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-InZtyZPZzhc/U33_uROJt-I/AAAAAAAABFU/VcZ1AXnG0CE/s1600/FalconCam+2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-InZtyZPZzhc/U33_uROJt-I/AAAAAAAABFU/VcZ1AXnG0CE/s1600/FalconCam+2.jpg" height="364" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">A screen capture from today May 22, 2014. All three chicks are mighty hungry!</td></tr></tbody></table>I have seen these majestic birds many times on our hikes here in Missouri, and if you haven't had the opportunity to check out the SiouxZee, Coal and their new baby peregrine falcons on the Missouri Department of Conservation's FalconCam, then your missing out! You can view the live stream from 7am - 7pm every day of the week on <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-cameras/peregrine-falcon-web-camera" target="_blank">FalconCam</a> which is a perfect time for taking an "eye" break while at work, right? If you're looking for a bit of mood music to watch the camera by you may want to visit <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Euci0_BBmNE" target="_blank">Old Blue Eyes on YouTube</a> and play it in the background.<br /><br />Right now is a prime time to watch as the baby peregrines and their appetites are getting bigger and bigger. Both mother SiouxZee and father Coal are always out finding more food in order to keep the babies growing.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1h4v_PkMbgM/U336ma9vjUI/AAAAAAAABFA/1kO9GhYAKTo/s1600/FalconCam.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="Just Hatched Baby Peregrine Falcon - Local Treks Hiking" border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1h4v_PkMbgM/U336ma9vjUI/AAAAAAAABFA/1kO9GhYAKTo/s1600/FalconCam.jpg" height="344" title="Just Hatched Baby Peregrine Falcon - Local Treks Hiking" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">A screen capture from FalconCam. Here the first chick to hatch is only 1 hour old.<br />Found on MDC Online<br />http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-cameras/peregrine-falcon-web-camera</td></tr></tbody></table><br />The site also includes a link to <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-cameras/peregrine-falcon-web-camera/falcon-camera-studies" target="_blank">educational materials</a>, where you can learn more about the fastest animals on Earth. You may also be interested in some of <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-cameras/peregrine-falcon-web-camera/falcon-camera-questions" target="_blank">the questions that have been asked before</a>, there are some egg-cellent (a horrible, nasty, disgusting pun, and for that I apologize) answers. If you have a question you can also <a href="mailto:falconcam@worldbirdsanctuary.org" target="_blank">email Jeff Meshach</a> at the World Bird Sanctuary and see if he'll answer your questions too!<br /><h2><span style="color: orange;">More Information</span></h2><div><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-cameras/peregrine-falcon-web-camera" target="_blank">MDC FalconCam Homepage</a></div><div><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-cameras/peregrine-falcon-web-camera/falcon-camera-studies" target="_blank">Falcon Camera Educational Material</a></div><div><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-cameras/peregrine-falcon-web-camera/falcon-camera-questions" target="_blank">Falcon Camera Questions</a></div>Local Trekshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/18278125395459409677noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-28295814797696729372014-05-19T08:16:00.001-05:002014-05-20T08:34:30.671-05:00Rock Pile Mountain: A Great Place To Get "Lost"<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5060/14046649286_7f69e45d16_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Local Treks: Compass" border="0" height="360" src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5060/14046649286_7f69e45d16_b.jpg" title="Local Treks: Compass" width="640" /></a></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><h2><b style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">A "Link" Between Gaming And Hiking...</span></b></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div>Growing up I loved playing The Legend of Zelda. The hero Link, in all of his 8-bit glory, began his journey when you led him into a cave and met a kindly old man positioned between two flickering flames. As he entered the cavern, the screen scrolled up and text formed over the elderly man's head revealing infamous words that stick with me to this very day, <span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: small;"><b>"IT'S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE! TAKE THIS."</b></span></span> Then Link was presented a wooden sword, the first weapon I would use on my epic elementary school quest to defeat the Evil Gannon. Later I would begin to explore dungeons in the game, here two items were of great importance; a compass and a map. Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness reminded me of this piece of my childhood, as it really can be dangerous to go alone, especially into a wilderness area and when you head out into these protected areas you should always take a compass and a map and know how to use them.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">4,238 Acres And This Is A <u><i>SMALL</i></u>&nbsp;Wilderness?</span></b></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lPlPro3oaZE/U2rSmv6CmfI/AAAAAAAAA1Y/oNkVW-oGGGk/w382-h680-no/20140507_183938.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lPlPro3oaZE/U2rSmv6CmfI/AAAAAAAAA1Y/oNkVW-oGGGk/w382-h680-no/20140507_183938.jpg" height="320" width="179" /></a></div>Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness holds the distinction of being Missouri's smallest wilderness area, weighing in at 4,238 acres of beautiful forest located outside of Fredricktown. The trailhead is located off of County Road 406 on Forest Road 2124 in Madison County. I can assure you, finding the trailhead for the wilderness may provide you a journey in itself! We traveled easily enough south, down Highway 67 from Fredricktown and turned right onto Highway C. Next we turned right on County Road 406, using the directions provided by the Mark Twain Forest <a href="https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5123269.pdf" target="_blank">recreational opportunity guide</a>, however we found the very last portion of the directions very difficult to find... The left turn on Forest Road 2124. This road does NOT have a traditional style street sign, instead it is a very small, skinny, brown stake-like sign, that is off on the left side of County Road 406 by at least 5-8 yards. We passed this turn twice before finding it. Unfortunately, I didn't measure the distance, but if you turn on County Road 406 from C, it is approximately 2 miles down the dirt road and will be on your left, it does look like it is fairly well traveled.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">Road Conditions May Vary...</span></b></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_PUvqlTKAE0/U0G7TAEc6hI/AAAAAAAAA4U/Agb547gx8F4/w1118-h629-no/20140406_112235.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_PUvqlTKAE0/U0G7TAEc6hI/AAAAAAAAA4U/Agb547gx8F4/w1118-h629-no/20140406_112235.jpg" height="180" width="320" /></a></div>Some reports on other websites and resources put Forest Road 2124 in a nearly complete state of disrepair, some have tales of ditches large enough to swallow cars, mud so deep that the Swamp Thing dwells somewhere in their depths, and trees the size of Redwoods have fallen over the rural gravel road. When we visited on April 18, 2014 the road was in very good condition. In fact, I was a bit disappointed that the road wasn't a challenge to be overcome, I wasn't going to be able to use the drive as a badge of honor to earn. However, I will say this, I can CERTAINLY see how this road may fall into a state of utter decay, signs of downed trees did litter the ditches and clear ruts were left by water as it cascaded over the road in spots during previous rains, cutting portions of the road away. But we easily made it, in an old four cylinder, two-wheel drive RAV4, that was born in 1998. We didn't even need the extra clearance the aging RAV4 provided over a standard car on our trip. The small ruts were easily avoided and we putted right on up Forest Road 2124 to the trailhead at the top of Little Grassy Mountain.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">Be Sure To Bring Your Own Map.</span></b></h2><div style="text-align: left;"><a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5577/13883222208_9f6d53aed6_z.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Local Treks: Rock Pile Wilderness Sign" border="0" height="400" src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5577/13883222208_9f6d53aed6_z.jpg" title="Local Treks: Rock Pile Wilderness Sign" width="328" /></a></div>As we neared the peak of Little Grassy Mountain, we were surprised to find another car parked just off the turnaround at the trailhead. Of all the reports I had read, none had ever mentioned bumping into another hiker while out on the trail. We pulled on in next to the other car (another, far newer RAV4), parked and began to stretch our legs, exploring the trailhead and reading the postings on the information board. I filled out a quick registration card and placed it in the collection box, near the information board. Honestly, there isn't much information available at the information board, and sadly I've become used to this in the Mark Twain National Forest. Please don't take this as a "knock" against the National Parks, but I've found them to be far more lacking in upkeep than our local State Parks, perhaps it is just that the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) does such a fantastic job of maintaining our local parks and trails that it makes the National Parks in Missouri look worse in comparison, but that is enough of a side tangent. There are NO maps available at the trailhead information board and some information seemed to have been torn off, but as I stated before, I expected this and in anticipation of finding another mapless information board, I had printed out two copies from the internet at home, marked them both up and brought them along with a compass.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2926/14070234654_40a33f2ac6_c.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img alt="Local Treks: Rock Pile Mountain Rock" border="0" height="227" src="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2926/14070234654_40a33f2ac6_c.jpg" title="Local Treks: Rock Pile Mountain Rock" width="400" /></a></div>Just a few steps from the information board is a great place for a photo opportunity. A large stone with Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness boldly chiseled into it just begs for you to hop in front of it and snap a selfie! However, be careful near this rock, as it seems that this trailhead may also be a popular late night spot to do a bit of "celebrating", as broken shards of glass are as plentiful here as tile in a bathroom &nbsp;and on the topic of bathrooms, there are no facilities here, as it is a wilderness area. Also, be especially vigilant as you explore the trailhead if you have a dog, no matter how tough their pads are, they are no match for the slivers of broken glass here. Once we snapped our photos by the rock, we unloaded our packs from the car, strapped up,and were ready to embark upon our backpacking adventure through the Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness. We caught a quick view of a pseudo rock pile in a clearing, just before reaching the official trail and that made us a bit excited to see the real rock pile, for which the mountain and the wilderness area have been named.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">Into The Wilds We Go!</span></b></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7366/14089900573_ac7a2b2179_c.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="local treks spring is springing" border="0" height="293" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7366/14089900573_ac7a2b2179_c.jpg" title="Local Treks: Spring is springing!" width="400" /></a></div>As we pass the patented National Forest sign, indicating the entrance to the Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness, the trail begins as a well worn dirt and stone trail, curving into an elongated C on our map as it winds down the Little Grassy Mountain. The "maintained" portion of the trail stretches for two miles and can be difficult to spot from time to time. As we hiked I noticed many false and game trails that lead to the east and west that could easily trick an unsuspecting hiker into following them for yards, or possibly miles. Because of all the false trails, I checked my compass frequently and compared my surroundings to the map I had packed and marked before venturing out. At approximately the one and a half mile mark on the maintained trail you reach the summit of a small hill, the rock formations and pines here provide a perfect place to take a quick rest, snatch a snack, enjoy a breeze and breathe in the lightly pine scented air. It is also a great place to find yourself veering off trail, completely by accident. It was here that we met a local hiker, out to enjoy the weather and a crisp hike through the wilderness. As we hiked, I corrected his path a few times, as he nearly went off course here at the top of the hill.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">We Meet Another Trekker.</span></b></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7382/13883304758_20244fc8f2_n.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Local Treks: Backpacking" border="0" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7382/13883304758_20244fc8f2_n.jpg" title="Local Treks: Backpacking" /></a></div>Given the difficulty of being assured we were following the trail, our new found hiking partner let us in on some great bits of insight pointing out a few local landmarks by which I could triangulate myself on my map should we become very lost. In fact, on the map, as we descended down the hill, he noted the way the "maintained" trail bent, to the southeast, just before ending and then pointed at purple markings on the trees. Those purple markings indicated the private property lines of the adjacent landowners, and also provided a great way to know that we were quickly approaching the backwoods trail in less than a quarter of a mile or so. It also helped me to gather a specific measurement of how far we had hiked and the near exact point of our location on the map. He also pointed out orange blazes on trees noting they had been left there by the local fire department who had been called out to Rock Pile Mountain to <a href="http://dailyjournalonline.com/democrat-news/news/hikers-located-at-rockpile-mountain/article_03281b4e-14d7-11e2-ba13-0019bb2963f4.html" target="_blank">rescue lost hikers the year before</a>.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">Watch Out For Obstacles, Remember That Map?</span></b></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7371/14066740362_9d33dc61f0_c.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="Local Treks: Marked up map" border="0" height="266" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7371/14066740362_9d33dc61f0_c.jpg" title="Local Treks: Marked up map" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Scribbling on your map is a'ok! <br />I had to remind myself of downed trees and other landmarks.</td></tr></tbody></table>We continued hiking with our local partner for about a mile or so, until we hit another navigational hazard, downed trees. Lots and lots of downed trees. These obstacles had been somewhat more frequent than we were used to and began to get even worse and more frequent as we left the "maintained" portion of the trail. The downed trees could not have come at a worse place either, unknown by us, the trail splits here. Hidden underneath these trees was the actual split, and we originally headed to the east in order to get around them and back to the trail. When we skirted around the trees and picked back up the trail, I noticed that we were heading due east, opposed to southwest as the map indicated and after about 25 yards I stopped, knowing that we had either picked up a false or game trail. We all doubled back and decided to look for the trail again. At this point, our hiking partner, who was heading to a different destination than us, decided to simply head due west, confident that he would pick up the trail soon enough and we decided to navigate back toward the northwest to find the original trail and last known good location instead, and so we all bid farewell and happy trails.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">Remember: Getting Away From It All Is Only &nbsp;Fun If You Get Back...</span></b></h2>Where we were actually at was the first of three official splits in the trail, shown on the map. Once we navigated back to our last known good location we opted to circle the downed trees to the west this time and sure enough, we were able to pick back up on the trail. With a quick check of the compass and glance at the map, we knew we were back on course to make it to the summit of Rock Pile Mountain. We were also lucky enough to spot the actual split, buried under a few trees, marked by an aged fence post with a rock set atop it. Although we would not see our local hiking companion again, we would spot evidence of his trail as we continued.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">I've Never Been Happier To See A Color.</span></b></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2907/14066795792_7ae653baef_z.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="Local Treks: Orange tags" border="0" height="320" src="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2907/14066795792_7ae653baef_z.jpg" title="Local Treks: ORANGE!" width="246" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">My new favorite color! Follow Me Orange.</td></tr></tbody></table>Remember those orange blazes our local friend had pointed out earlier? The ones left by the fire department as they mounted a search for lost hikers? These came in <b>EXTREMELY</b> handy for us. Although I am a fairly competent navigator, these blazes seemed to be placed at just the right spots to remind me that we were, indeed, on course for the summit of Rock Pile Mountain. Just as self doubt would begin to enter, the trail would seem to disappear, or trees had once again forced us off the scantly viewable trail, these tiny bits of plastic would set my mind back at ease and assure us that we were on the "right path". However, realize that these markings will not last forever and there were very, very few other markings that would distinguish the actual trail from the numerous game trails that cross it, we were just lucky to have these navigational beacons for our hike, so please do not count on them to still be there. However, I'll mention here that we were able to get cellular reception throughout most of our hike, losing a signal only once as we were in a depression navigating around another obstacle to our path.<br /><h2><b><span style="color: #e69138; font-size: x-large;">Our Final Destination And A Possible Ancient Relic.</span></b></h2><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7339/14069761375_1f6cfb1212_c.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="Local Treks: Me in rock pile" border="0" height="225" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7339/14069761375_1f6cfb1212_c.jpg" title="Local Treks: Finding Center..." width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Finding a spot of enlightenment and my center, in the Rock Pile.</td></tr></tbody></table>We would spot more orange blazes as we finally approached our final and ultimate destination, the peak of Rock Pile Mountain itself. A word of warning, there are many different "rock piles" on the peak of this mountain, obviously created either as a cruel joke or as an homage to the real rock pile itself. If you have GPS, here are the coordinates - <span style="color: #b45f06;"><b>37°25.222' N, 90°25.199' W</b></span> - I took from the center of the "real" Rock Pile. For those without GPS assistance, it lays just to the northwest of a large granite clearing, search, I assure you will find it. Keep in mind it is not located on the very tip-top of the mountain, but very close. According to what I've read this ancient circle of granite rock is believed to have been piled near the very peak of Rock Pile Mountain by some earlier man. The original Rock Pile, for which this entire area and mountain was named, was over four foot tall. However, according to some accounts I have read, due to present day travelers and inconsiderate visitors the Rock Pile now is just over a foot or two in areas, but you can certainly see that it is created by man, for some purpose... The exact purpose, well, we'll most likely never know. <br /><h2><b style="color: #e69138;"><span style="font-size: x-large;">Overall Thoughts: I <u><i>LOVE</i></u>&nbsp;This Place.</span></b></h2>Overall, our hike to Rock Pile Mountain was fantastic. We could not have asked for a better day and botanists would fall in love with the variation in local trees here; as the wilderness supports basswood, butternut, Kentucky coffee tree, walnut, sugar maple, and magnificent white and red oaks. If you find yourself hiking in Spring, as we did, you'll also notice as you near the man made ponds the sing-songs of frogs as they serenade in hopes of a mate. Evidence of white-tailed deer, turkey, and other large game abound, we spotted many tracks for the deer and heard them as they escaped, just out of view, on our return hike. Another thing to watch out for, although we found no tracks or evidence, are black bears. There have been quite a few spotting of these bears in the Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness, so please keep this in mind, particularly if you are camping in the area as you should suspend your food items in a bear bag, high in a tree. The last thing you would want during a wonderful camping trip would be a humongous hairy camp crasher.<br /><h2><b style="color: #e69138;"><span style="font-size: x-large;">Keep In Mind: I'm A Wilderness Fan-Boy...</span></b></h2><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7189/14069943455_8c8acf1154_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Local Treks: The Rock Pile" border="0" height="400" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7189/14069943455_8c8acf1154_b.jpg" title="Local Treks: The Rock Pile" width="300" /></a></div>I'll admit, I'm partial to <a href="http://hikingmo.blogspot.com/2014/03/wilderness-areas-lets-get-wild.html#.U1_GKFctodU" target="_blank">wilderness areas</a>. I enjoy the relative solitude, the complete lack of crowds and the feeling of truly being alone and yet one, with nature. The lone hiker we encountered was the solitary exception to the general experiences I've had in the Missouri and Illinois wilderness areas and the other hikers (remember the newer RAV4 at the trailhead?) we never spotted, and once our traveling companion went out of sight at the downed trees, we never spotted him again either. In our wilderness areas I find that the birds sing a bit bolder, nature takes an extra second before darting for cover, the general fresh air seems fresher, and Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness was certainly no exception. I can't recommend this area enough if you're looking to get away for a day hike or if you're planning a remote backpacking trip, just don't forget to print a map and take a compass. Remember, GPS devices may run out of battery, so if you're using one be sure to bring extra batteries. In fact, that is the reason that I did not take many pictures during our visit here, I had reserved my phone for an emergency only, turning it off as we hit the trail in order to conserve all battery life. I hope you decide to visit this great wilderness area, I'm sure you'll enjoy it just as much as we did!<br /><h2><b style="color: #e69138;"><span style="font-size: x-large;">One Last Thing...</span></b></h2>All packs are not created equal. One thing to keep in mind, if you are back packing like we did, keep your load light and properly adjusted or, well, there's a picture below. My fingers became pretty swollen due to hiking with too much weight on my shoulders and not enough on the hip belt. Hopefully you'll get as big of a snicker at this as my wife did... Happy trails to you!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7064/13883497999_0cc075f3db_b.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Local Treks: Swollen fingers from backpacking" border="0" height="233" src="https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7064/13883497999_0cc075f3db_b.jpg" title="Local Treks: My Fatty Fingers" width="640" /></a></div><br /><br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m29!1m12!1m3!1d404500.74596377386!2d-90.25735267845147!3d37.62187515274238!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m14!1i0!3e6!4m5!1s0x8877853694cf77fb%3A0x80901cff3a8d5f92!2sCape+Girardeau%2C+MO!3m2!1d37.3058839!2d-89.51814759999999!4m5!1s0x87d82507fb2836dd%3A0x5e518a47d5854c1!2sRockpile+Mountain+Wilderness%2C+Central%2C+MO+63645!3m2!1d37.425329999999995!2d-90.421506!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1398818564590" style="border: 0;" width="400"></iframe><br /><h2><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><b>More Information:&nbsp;</b></span></span></h2><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LocalTreks" target="_blank">Local Treks on facebook&nbsp;</a><br /><a href="http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mtnf/recarea/?recid=21864" target="_blank">Mark Twain National Forest: Rock Pile Wilderness </a><br /><a href="http://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/wildView?WID=500" target="_blank">Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness</a> on Wilderness.net<br /><a href="https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5123270.pdf" target="_blank">Mark Twain National Forest Brochure</a> of Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness (with trail map)<br /><a href="https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5123269.pdf" target="_blank">Mark Twain National Forest Recreational Opportunity Guide</a> for Rock Pile Mountain Wilderness (with trail map and driving directions as well)<br /><a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9H9LAF0ZZM6dE5XTDFTVDN0aWM/edit?usp=sharing" target="_blank">Official USGS Rock Pile Mountain Quadrangle Map</a> (use with the trail maps above)<br />&nbsp; - Note the USGS map above is a HUGE file and in pdf format.<br /><a href="http://hikingmo.blogspot.com/2014/03/wilderness-areas-lets-get-wild.html#.U1_GKFctodU" target="_blank">Wilderness Areas: Let's Get WILD!</a> (post on wilderness manners and what to expect in a wilderness) <br /><a href="http://www.usgs.gov/pubprod/" target="_blank">The Official USGS Maps Page</a> (helpful for all types of maps, and FREE!)<br /><a href="http://hikingmo.blogspot.com/2013/08/tiny-tenacious-terrible-ticks.html#.U1PKS1eTKVo" target="_blank">Tiny. Tenacious. Terrible. Ticks.</a> - A post on how to keep those bloodsuckers at bay!<br /><a href="http://hikingmo.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-to-take-great-day-hike.html#.U1PKxVeTKVo" target="_blank">How To Take A GREAT Day Hike</a><br /><h2><span style="font-size: x-large;"><span style="color: orange;">Coordinates: </span></span></h2><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: orange;">Trailhead GPS Location: </span>37°27.811' N, 90°24.311' W (taken with Samsung Galaxy S4)</div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: orange;">Rock Pile GPS Location: </span>37°25.222' N, 90°25.199' W(taken with Samsung Galaxy S4)</div>&nbsp; <br /><br />Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-37419934780533145972014-05-14T08:42:00.001-05:002014-05-14T12:50:22.199-05:00Get Hooked: Missouri Kid's Fishing Days 2014<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5105/5862951271_586e2a1053_z.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Local Treks: Blue Gill and Kid" border="0" height="426" src="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5105/5862951271_586e2a1053_z.jpg" title="Local Treks: Blue gill and nephew" width="640" /></a></div><br />I am a huge proponent for getting kids outside and developing their relationship with nature. Now, the Missouri Department of Conservation offers a great way for you to get the kids out and have some family fun, all while introducing kids to the outdoors and conservation. Kids Fishing Days are created to help families and groups learn about fish, important fish habitat, conservation and fishing techniques. At many of these Kids Fishing Days, the program provides fishing equipment, bait and instruction, so all you need to supply are the kids and a spirit of adventure. Some even supply lunch, just in case you don't get a "wiggler" on the line.<br /><br />Hopefully a fun day spent with you trying to land a monster fish will turn into <u><b>more</b></u> fun days with you outdoors, enjoying even more that our state has to offer. Who knows, it may even lead to you all exploring one of our great <a href="http://www.localtrekshiking.com/p/local-treks-missouri.html#.U3KA4ChZh8E" target="">Missouri trails</a>!<br /><h2><span style="font-size: x-large;"><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/fishing/places-fish/kids-fishing-days" target="_blank">When &amp; Where To Find A Kids Fishing Day </a></span></h2>Here are the Kids Fishing Days events I've found so far around the state. You can click the name of the area below to visit the website for more information.<br /><ul><li><b><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/regions/ozark/maramec-spring-park-and-hatchery" target="_blank">Maramec Spring Trout Park in St. James, MO</a>: Saturday, May 17 </b></li><ul><li>Free hotdogs and soda for lunch</li><li>Goodie bags for all participants </li><li>Entire upper portion is reserved for kids 15 and under</li><li>Rainbow trout will be restocked during the event</li><li>Contests and activities all day long for prizes and awards</li><li>The day lasts from 6:30 a.m. - 8:15 p.m. </li></ul><li><b><a href="http://www.mostateparks.com/park/roaring-river-state-park" target="_blank">Roaring River State Park in Cassville, MO</a>: Saturday, May 17</b></li><ul><li>Free hotdogs, chips and soda for lunch. 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.</li><li>Seminars on fish cleaning, fish cooking, knife sharpening, knot tying , fly tying, stream biology, fly casting, how to fish Roaring River and more.</li><li>Kids 15 and under receive a free trout tag and a portion of the park will be reserved just for them to fish&nbsp;</li><li>Roaring Rivers State Park also features <a href="http://www.mostateparks.com/trails/roaring-river-state-park" target="_blank">seven hiking trails</a>... Just sayin'... </li></ul><li><b><a href="http://mdc4.mdc.mo.gov/Applications/MOATLAS/AreaSummaryPage.aspx?txtAreaID=8806" target="_blank">Kellogg Lake Park in Carthage, MO</a>: Saturday, June 7</b></li><ul><li>Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the pavilion.</li><li>Limited poles available, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own poles</li><li>Bait will be provided</li><li>Learn how to cast a fly rod and much more</li><li>Refreshments and prizes available</li></ul><li><b><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/regions/southwest/shepherd-hills-fish-hatchery" target="_blank">Shepard of the Hills Fish Hatchery in Branson, MO</a>: Saturday, June 7</b></li><ul><li>Free performance at noon by the "<a href="http://fishmagic.com/" target="_blank">Fishin' Magicians</a>"</li><li>Free Goodie Bags for kids 15 and under</li><li>Learn how to tie knots, cook fish, bait and fly cast, ethical fishing, how to rig up a pole and more</li><li>Limited number of poles will be available, so you may want to bring your own to avoid waiting</li></ul></ul><div>Also if you're lucky enough to live near the <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/regions/southeast/cape-girardeau-conservation-nature-center" target="_blank">Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center</a> they have a pond that is reserved for children 15 and under <b><u>all the time</u></b>. They will even provide a fishing pole and bait for your child to fish with, available at the front desk, and that's each and every day while the Nature Center is open.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>Wishing you good luck, sunken bobbers, and many happy trails.</div><h2><span style="color: orange;"><span style="font-size: x-large;">For More Information:</span></span></h2><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/fishing/places-fish/kids-fishing-days" target="_blank">Kids Fishing Day Homepage</a> on <a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/">MDC.mo.gov</a><br /><a href="http://mdc.mo.gov/regions/southeast/cape-girardeau-conservation-nature-center" target="_blank">Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center</a><br /><a href="http://fishmagic.com/" target="_blank">The Fishin' Magicians&nbsp; </a><br /><ul><ul></ul></ul>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5355625114445680806.post-56809643592489549002014-05-13T10:19:00.002-05:002014-05-13T10:32:19.438-05:00Finding Inspiration: Yosemite HD II ReleasedIf you haven't had a chance to see the video created by filmmakers Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill, you're missing out on one of the most inspirational and downright beautiful clip I've ever come across. These two embarked upon a 200 plus mile backpacking trip through the Yosemite National Park in order to capture the breathtaking time-lapse video seen in Yosemite HD II. As if the wonders of the park itself are not overwhelming in their own right, the duo shot the footage utilizing 4K UHD (also called 2160p) which offers FOUR TIMES the definition of 1080p... Pretty impressive, right?<br /><br /><center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ZwzY1o_hB5Y" width="560"></iframe></center><br />The beauty of Yosemite really shines in this piece as they shoot locations such as Yosemite Valley, Half Dome (which is what originally inspired the filmmakers!), El Capitan, Mount Watkins, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Ribbon Falls, Turtleback Dome, Glacier Point, May Lake, Cathedral Lakes and many, many more iconic Yosemite destinations. These two truly did a bang up job capturing these locations in their very best light and the time-lapse pans are flat out insane.<br /><br />Looking at their camera gear I was impressed with what they were using: A Canon 5D Mark III, Sony FS700, Stage 1 Dolly from Dynamic Perception (which had to have been integral in the beautiful time-lapse pans), Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II lens, and Lee .9 ND Gradient filters. That's much, much less than what I would have thought they used out there on the trail, but when it comes to backpacking in that gear I certainly can't believe they got these results! Truly awesome.<br /><br />With the combination of the filmmakers vision, the gob-smacking natural beauty of Yosemite, and fantastic use of gear and raging resolution this video is about as close as you can get to being there. So, go ahead, check out the video above and marvel at the sites of Yosemite and be sure to click that little gear icon in the lower right hand corner and bump up the resolution as high as possible. Then, if you can, scrunch your face in close to your monitor and perhaps maybe, just maybe, you can trick yourself into thinking you are actually there.<br /><br />I hope you enjoy.<br /><h2><span style="font-size: x-large;">More On Project Yosemite:</span></h2><a href="http://www.projectyose.com/" target="_blank">Project Yosemite Homepage</a><br /><a href="http://www.projectyose.com/list" target="_blank">A List of Shooting Locations and Gear</a>Shannonhttps://plus.google.com/114412993494807507887noreply@blogger.com0