Exploring Southern Missouri wild areas

Several weekends ago, Rob Sheppard and I met to explore wild areas in MO south of St Louis. We were both attending Board Meetings for NANPA and NANPA Foundation and used the opportunity to meet early and visit and shoot together. Neither of us had ever been to the area so we used a guide that helped us find some rather unique places. I will be highlighting some of those places over the course of this week, so stay tuned.

If you are going to an area that is new to you and don’t have an experienced guide, find a book that can tell you what and where things are. The book we used gave us some details with some directions and also GPS coordinates (which we used to help the 4Runner lead us to the trail heads). We learned about the geology of the areas and also some general comments on hiking trails at each specific area.

We were interested in what the drought and heat had done in this area of Missouri as we had heard that this area and across the Mississippi River in Illinois was suffering from lack of water and heat stress. With just a casual glance, you really didn’t appreciate the impact in the forested areas we visited, but with closer scrutiny, you could see the affects of heat stress and lack of water on many of the plants. I don’t know if the heat or drought has affected the cicadas, but Rob was very happy to hear their song as we walked along the trails.

Some of the most startling examples of drought we experienced were during the hike to our first creek. Cathedral Canyon (N37° 30.652’ W90° 28.209’)is in Mark Twain National Forest and the example picture showed a nice flowing stream. After a little over a mile hike through the forest, we came to what looked like a rock canyon. Further inspection and we realized we were actually walking on the dried up riverbed of Dark Hollow and Lower Rock Creeks. With only an occasional puddle to indicate the true nature of the riverbed, it was fascinating to look around and make images in the middle of a creek without ever getting your boots wet.

Both of these images are HDRs using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 software.

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