Location Spotlight: The Canyon-land of Ferns and Waters – Hickory Canyons Natural Area

Today’s post spotlights a few images I took recently at the least well-known, but perhaps my favorite, of the Ste. Genevieve trio gem locations found in south-eastern Missouri, Hickory Canyons Natural Area.  The other two nearby locations are Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Natural Area.  Much of the exposed rock in this area is known as LaMotte sandstone and was deposited around 500 million years ago under the Paleozoic sea, which covered this region except the igneous knobs of what are now called the St. Francois Mountains.  Unlike the other sedimentary rocks – like dolomite and limestone that compose much of the Ozarks, sandstones are generally much more resistant to erosion.  This results in rock features that are often quite spectacular to the eye and the canyons, bluffs and other exposed sandstone bedrock have become favorites for hikers, rock climbers and other travelers to this region.

“Addressing the Optimates”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 89mm, ISO 320,  f/20,  0.4 sec

Two short hikes are available at Hickory Canyons N.A.  Both offer great views of the rock formations, including wet-weather waterfalls like the one shown below.

“The Bath House”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 70mm, ISO 320,  f/16,  1.3 sec

The overhangs and cracks created in these box canyons, gorges and cascades provide opportunities for ferns, mosses and lichens.  In fact, these three spots mentioned above in Ste Genevieve Co are the only place the fern enthusiast need travel to in Missouri.  The well-draining, sandy and acidic soils found here are perfect for species like wild-rose azalea, hay fern and rattlesnake orchid.  White oak, hickories, sugar maples, short-leaf pine and flowering dogwood are the primary tree species found at this location.  A few trips during spring time are definitely worth it to find some of these fantastic plants in bloom set against these dripping canyons and ephemeral cascades and waterfalls.  The wild-rose azaleas bloomed about six weeks early this spring and I missed them.  Oh well, something to look forward to next year.

“The Senate”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 28mm, ISO 160,  f/16,  2.5 sec

“Floralia”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 93mm, ISO 250,  f/16,  1 sec

Virere Candere

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 24mm, ISO 160,  f/16,  1.6 sec

Arboris Relictus

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens, ISO 160,  f/16,  0.5 sec

As the glaciers of the last major ice age retreated, species that required lower temps and had higher water requirements moved back north as well.  These canyons provide cooler and wetter environments for relict species like the one pictured above, the partridge berry.  This evergreen vine-like tiny shrub can be found throughout the canyon and hollow floors along with lichens and mosses.

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Seven Days of Mina Sauk Falls – Day Seven

“Taum Sauk Eternal”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 40mm, ISO 200,  f/14, 0.6 sec

Hi everyone.  Here is the last in my planned succession of image postings of Mina Sauk Falls of the Missouri Ozarks.  This photograph may be my favorite of the day.  The textures of the rock and the patterns of the lichen suggested to me that this would make a nice black and white.  I added a light Orton effect to enhance these contrasts and bring out the highlights a bit more.  The pool of water might be my favorite aspect of the image.

I had another great Saturday exploring and photographing in the Ozarks.  We really had some magnificent lightning displays from thunderstorms that went through the region in the afternoon.  I hope none of you had any damage or other worries from these storms.  I started my day with an actual plan and had to make changes due to the weather.  I started my day in the Labarque Creek Watershed, thinking the storms we had on Thursday may have filled the drainage creeks and there would potentially be lots of falls, cascades and other water features to shoot.  I also realized that the spring ephemeral wild flowers would be really getting going.  Well, the water flow was next to nothing.  The rain from early in the week had either drained quickly or was not enough to get things flowing.  The spring ephemerals were exactly what I expected.  Spring beauty, rue anemone, Dutchman’s breeches, hounds tooth and blood root were all present in the thousands.  I wish I had actually spent more time shooting these, but I had other plans as well.

My plan after Labarque was to head to the nearby Shaw Nature Reserve to photograph the early happenings of the Red-shouldered Hawk nest located there.  I hauled all my photo equipment and my spotting scope and my chair and snacks, set up, had an opportunity to take a few shots when the rains came in.  So, I packed up and started back home.  I knew the weather would also interfere with my plan to photograph a local Great-horned Owl nest that I was planning on visiting in the late afternoon and evening.  I went back home, ate dinner and checked weather.com.  There looked to be a gap between 5:00PM and 7:00PM where the chance of rain was significantly lower.  I suspected that the 0.5-1″ or so of rain we received this afternoon may be enough to really get the ephemeral drainage creeks of Labarque flowing.  So, I packed up and headed back to Eureka, knowing it still might rain for another few hours and I may not even get out of the car.  When I arrived, it was barely sprinkling so I put my rain gear on and covered my camera pack with its rain cover and with my hiking pole and trusty Tilley to keep my head dry, I started on the trail – anxious about the weather and quickly cover the mile or so to the features I most hoped would be filled with water.  The situation was not perfect.  It rained about half the time I was on the hike.  I was able to pull the camera out and do some shooting, but the light was very low, even for shooting moving water!  In a couple of brief deluges I carried myself and my gear to a small cave to wait it out.  This was one of the most memorable hikes of my life.  The light, sky, fog water and life all around me seemed to be changing by the minute.  At least half a dozen frog species were singing and the Eastern Towhees were constantly telling me to “Drink your Tee!”.  I heard the ever-vocal Red-shouldered Hawks and the hoots of Barred and Great-horned Owls.

Finally, when the light was so low I couldn’t get anything shorter than a 30 second exposure, I headed back to the car.  Upon reaching the top of one of the steep ridges I saw a spectacular display of warm colors as the sun was able to break through a bit near the horizon and juxtapose itself with the cumulonimbus clouds and associated displays of lightning.

I apologize if this is boring any readers, but I am using this blog as a journal in as much as anything else.  I haven’t really looked at any of the photos I took today.  Hopefully the images will be close to what I hope they can be.  If not, I will always be looking forward to the next hike in the Missouri Ozarks.

Seven Days of Mina Sauk Falls – Day Four

“Spanning Time”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 24mm, ISO 200,  f/10, 1/4 sec

So how did Mina Sauk and her father mountain, Taum Sauk, get their names?  I am currently looking for an original and direct source for the telling of the legend of Mina Sauk.  Here are a few paragraphs collected from the web that were originally published by the Kansas City Star:

The Legend of Taum Sauk Mountain ~ A Native American “Romeo and Juliet” story as told to John Russell, from the Kansas City Star, by “Old Uncle Jim Connelly” back in 1953, the summer after the park became accessible by automobile to the public.  Uncle Jim, an ex-railroad worker, who for many years ran a service station and tourist court from his home near Ironton, knew a host of stories and Indian legends tied up with the mountain.

“Uncle Jim’s favorite story probably is one about Taum Sauk, the Piankashaw Indian chieftain after whom the mountain is named, and his daughter, Mina Sauk, for whom the beautiful waterfall on the northwestern slope of the mountain is named.

“Long before the white man came here,”  Uncle Jim relates, “this land of flowers, now called the Arcadia Valley, was the hunting grounds of the Piankashaw Indians.  The Piankashaws had a famous chieftain, Sauk-Ton-Qua.  Because the name was hard for the white man to pronounce, he was later call Taum Sauk.”

“Taum Sauk was wise and although the Piankashaws were not as large a tribe as the Cherokees or Osages, he was able to hold his territory against their invasions.  The Piankashaws lived in comparative peace in and around the Arcadia Valley, where they hunted and fished and raised a little corn in the summertime.  In the winter they would move to the limestone bluff shelters along the Mississippi river and stay there until warm weather.”

“Taum Sauk’s beautiful daughter, Mina Sauk, was greatly desired by all the young warriors in the tribe.  However, Mina Sauk met a young Osage warrior in the woods and lost her heart to him.”

“For a long time he wooed her secretly, but one day she was discovered in the arms of the young Osage.  The young warrior was captured and taken before the chieftain.  He was tried and condemned to death.”

“He was executed on the slopes of Taum Sauk Mountain, where a great porphyry outcrop form an escarpment overlooking Taum Sauk creek and facing Wildcat mountain. The young warrior was tossed from the parapet down a succession of benches on the mountainside, thrown from bench to bench with the spears of warriors.  He fell bleeding and dying in the valley below.”

“The grief-stricken maiden was restrained by the tribal women from interfering with the execution.  But at the fatal moment, she broke loose from her captors and threw herself to death on the same benches.”

“The old Indian legend says that this displeased the great spirit, and that the earth trembled and shook, and the mountain cracked.  Then a stream of water poured forth and flowed down the rock benches, washing away the blood.”

“The place is still known as the Mina Sauk falls and along the edges of the rivulet, even today, there grow little flowers with crimson blossoms which the Indians believed got their color from this ancient tragedy.”

 

-I really like this story and think it could be something special if it were fleshed out more fully.  I find it hard to believe that someone like Longfellow never picked this one up and turned it into a classic.  But, I guess this part of the country has never had too many literary classicists.  Maybe Woodrell can pick this up and give it a modern Ozark face.  Someone should suggest this to him.

 

 

 

 

Ozark Dynamism

Elephant Rocks is one of my favorite locations in the Missouri Ozarks to visit and make photographs.  I don’t think it’s a big surprise that this would be true for many nature lovers/photographers.  I love the fact that one can make good photographs here any season of the year and almost any time of day.  If you face the right direction you can find good light on a good composition on almost every visit, not just in the narrow window of the “golden hour”.  However, if you can get there with perfect light and an interesting sky the outcome can be better than good.  My favorite time to visit is early in the day.  This is not only for the better light, but for the fact that I have had the place entirely to myself for a couple or more hours on several occasions.

I was fortunate to find an interesting sky on this visit.  I found that converting this one to B&W really played the dynamic sky against the interesting texture of the boulders below.  Inscribed on one of the rocks you can see the name of one of the many quarry workers who harvested the granite species of rocks from the surrounding area.

Technical details: Canon EOS 50D camera, EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens @ 10mm, ISO 100,  f/16, 1/15 sec

Alluvial Furnace

This image was taken on a chilly October morning as I was driving to make my first visit to Tower Rock Natural Area in Perry County near Altenburg, Missouri.  I am always looking for a nice composition I can capture that features fog or mist.  This rarely happens because it takes so long to drive from the city to a pleasing spot like this where fog may form.

Technical details: Canon EOS 50D camera, EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens @ 19mm, ISO 100,  f/14, 1/80 sec

Ozark Bill Said Let There Be Ozark Light! “Tatanka”

This is the first post of Ozark Bill Presents – Ozark Light!

This image was taken on a trip that the wife and I went on this past fall.  Our destination was Big Spring SP to stay in the cabins a few days.  On our way out-of-town we stopped at Lone Elk Park to hopefully catch some sexual excitement of the Elk rut.  Not too many Elk were seen doing interesting things on this visit.  We did, however, get to watch some bison up close.  I converted to this sepia-toned version using PS-Elements 9 and Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 software.

Tatanka is the Lakota word meaning “bull-bison” or “buffalo”.  Did you know…?  Buffalo is not the correct name for this species as the name buffalo is used to describe species in Asia.

Technical details: Canon EOS 50D camera, EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 191mm, ISO 640,  f/6.3, 1/80 sec