After a very foggy Easter Sunday morning, the sun came out in the afternoon, and we had a very pleasant day of hiking. Our first stop was Elephant Rocks State Park. Those were very interesting and fun to climb around, but not the subject of this post. From Elephant Rocks, we went to Taum Sauk Mountain, the high point in the state of Missouri. Located in the St. Francois section of the Ozarks, Taum Sauk reaches 1,772 feet above sea level. The trail from the parking lot is a very easy concrete trail, barely gaining any elevation. In fact, out of the 32 high points I have now visited, Taum Sauk would have to be the flattest one of all. So, we felt a more difficult hike was in order, and proceeded to take the three-mile loop to Mina Sauk Falls. In places, the trail was quite rocky, and almost everywhere it was very wet from yesterday’s rain, not to mention poorly marked. Along the way, however, we were treated to some beautiful Ozark vistas. The waterfall was a nice reward for the hiking, and we could climb a lot of the rocks real close to the main drop. Altogether, the falls has a drop of 132 feet, and was well worth the trip. We were amazed at the clarity of the water! On the way back, we were treated to a couple of herpetological treats- First, we saw a number of lizards sunning themselves in the late March sunshine. I was surprised to see them at this latitude, altitude, and time of year, and they had a beautiful blue underside! Secondly, back near the almost-level “summit” the spring peeper frogs were almost deafening in their jubilant song in a very shallow swampy area. It was our third state high point in as many days!
These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8.
This is the second state high point we have hit on our Easter road trip. Again I will have my dad write the commentary on our trip today:
We spent the night in Tupelo, Mississippi, and even saw Elvis Presley’s birthplace, home church, and the Hardware store where he bought his first guitar. Then, it was back onto the Natchez Trace into the extreme northeast corner of the state to Woodall Mountain. By the time we got there, it was raining. Thinking back, this is the first time in our 30 state highpoint trips that we had rain (though I do remember some sleet on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire on a July day). It did not bother us too much, however, as Woodall is essentially a drive-up mountain. There were a number of communications towers at the summit, pine trees, and a large rock that unfortunately had the sign removed. We signed the register, and for the second consecutive day we were the second “expedition” of the day to reach the summit. At 806 feet above sea level, it was certainly higher than Driskill Mountain, but might not qualify as a “mountain” by some standards. As usual, Mokey tried to get into as many pictures as possible. For this trip, we hope to bag two more highpoints!
These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8 lens.
Yesterday after our Louisianna hike, we drove our way East to Mississippi. As soon as we got there, we hopped onto the Natchez Trace Trail, which is a scenic drive that will take you from Natchez, Mississippi all the way up to Nashville, Tennesee. Along the trail, there were many little towns and attractions to visit. One stop we made was the Mississippi Craft Center. Outside the craft center there was a booth where some blacksmiths were doing metal work. They were really friendly guys and offered to show us some of the work they were doing and the process used to create some of their intricate designs. While we were there, they were in the process of building and forming some big screws. They had a few furnaces as you see in the photos which would be turned up to about 2900 degrees. They would bury the metal in some of the coals there to make sure that it would heat up to a malleable state. They would then use some tools to grab the bolt and bring it over to a work horse where they would take a 25-30 lb. hammer to slam it into its final form. They only had a few seconds to do this before the metal would cool off to a state where it was no longer formable. Using this process along with some different tools and molds is how they would create some of the pieces you see below. The rest of the craft center was a very modern looking building that housed some very beautiful artwork. It was really neat to look around and a great stop to break up our 5 hour drive up to Tupelo, Mississippi.
These were shot with my Nikon D600 and 24-75mm f/2.8.
Since I’m going on this trip with my dad, I thought it would be cool to have him tell you about some of our adventures since he’s such a great writer and has a great sense of humour and just to give you a different perspective. Here are his thoughts on the first stop of our trip:
Today was a day, and a long weekend, that Zach and I had been looking forward to for a long time. We got to resume one of our favorite activities- “high-pointing,” this time in the state of Louisiana. After our night in Ruston (home to Louisiana Tech, Terry Bradshaw’s alma mater), we drove through a sparsely populated region in north-central Louisiana. We parked next to the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church and cemetery off route 507, to begin the trail to the top of Driskill Mountain. At 535 feet above sea level, it is the third lowest high point in the US. (Trivia question- can you name the two shorter high points?) It was a beautiful and peaceful Good Friday morning. We hiked through a pine and hardwood forest, with some scattered wildflowers, to the sound of birds chirping. It was certainly not a long or difficult hike. The land is privately owned, but high-pointers are welcome, and the trail was well-marked. At the summit, a new sign has been recently installed, along with a couple of new benches. Signing the guest register, we were surprised to learn that we were NOT the first to the summit today…two guys from Reno, Nevada has been to the summit shortly after midnight! For me, this marked my 30th state highpoint, while it was the 29th for Zach. Our faithful companion “Mokey” has been with us for most of them. Back at the church, we noted that some of the Driskill family, for which the mountain was named, were buried there in the cemetery. The weather was perfect, and we moved on toward our next adventure. (Trivia answer…Florida has the lowest high point, followed by Delaware.)
These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8.