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.

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Seven Days of Mina Sauk Falls – Day Six

“Warm Flow”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 24mm, ISO 160,  f/11, 1/4 sec

Near the top of Taum Sauk these cascades were very appealing but somewhat difficult to shoot as the sun began to creep in.  Ice covering the rocks was still an issue and I carefully moved along a ledge to get close to this pretty little slide.  Being able to rest a bit in the sunshine and eat some cocoa-covered almonds and have some coffee while listening to the falls was great after spending the previous hour or two on the shadow side of the mountain in the cold and mist.

Seven Days of Mina Sauk Falls – Day Five

“Frigid Mina”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens @ 11mm, ISO 250,  f/14, 0.4 sec

Here we have one of the mid-tier drops of Mina Sauk.  This one falls about 20 feet and on this morning the temperature was just cold enough to freeze the mist of the falls on whatever it landed upon.  It was a real challenge keeping the front of the lens free of freezing drops.  The icy rock surfaces were also quite a challenge of foot near any of the falls.  I really grew to appreciate the different colors and tones in the rocks here during this trip.  With no greenery of warmer months or warm colors of autumn the purples, pinks and various other hues that these granites and their lichen passengers exhibit was something to focus on.

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.

 

 

 

 

Seven Days of Mina Sauk Falls – Day Three

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 40mm, ISO 200,  f/11, 1/4 sec

It wouldn’t be a trip to the St. Francois Mountains in January through March without finding some Ozark Witch Hazel in bloom.  These small shrubs love the sandy, acidic soils found along streams in this region.  The flowers of these guys really put out some fragrance!  If you find yourself in a large patch of these during a particularly warm day, the smells of vanilla and other sweet spices and floral notes can almost be overpowering.  In this image, I tried to feature a branch of one of these plants that carries both new blooms from this year along with spent fruit cases from last year – many of which that still hold seed.  I used a gold portable reflector to increase the warmth of the branch and its flowers.  This branch is featured nicely in front of a couple of picturesque falls that can be found high on the set of falls and cascades that make up Mina Sauk.

Seven Days of Mina Sauk Falls – Day Two

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens @ 10mm, ISO 160,  f/14, 0.6 sec

I estimate the vertical distance in this image in the neighborhood of 60-80 feet or more.  The ultra wide angle utilized in this image takes out a lot of that scale for the viewer.  I should have placed a kitten or something in the near foreground to capture that scale, I know.

The cascades and falls begin much higher up the mountain than this particular section.  Here is where the falls begin their more vertical descent.  This is a good example of the fractures (joints) that form in this super hard and dense rhyolite and granite.  The water slowly works its way in between the cracks and given enough time, water wins.