Friday, July 2, 2010

Playing in the Shut-Ins

A few years ago a reservoir broke open in southern Missouri and water scoured the wooded landscape to bare rock. The millions of gallons of water was held at the top of a local mountain and the water washed away trees, grass, soil and boulders. The layers of the rocks forming the mountain were exposed immediately revealing geological history for millions of years. The containment facility operators cleaned up the area and have left a marked trail explaining the mishap and identifying the exposed rock. The trail wanders through the scour area adjacent to a popular swimming hole located on the Black River, Johnson's Shut-ins.
We walked the trail on an early Monday morning when the humidity soaked through our clothes and the sun heated the water in the air to steam. The scour area was impressive leaving even those limited in imagination to visualize a wall of water crashing down the side of the mountain. The hike wanders through a wooded section then opens out into the scour area. As the trees break it looks like a valley field at first glance. We moved closer and could see the bare rock in the opening shaped in a trail down the mountain. Vegetation was busy filling the area in and the site may be reforested within a decade. The morning we chose to be there was hot and humid.

We sweated through the hike back to the car and drove over to the shut-ins on the other side of the river. Here the Black River tumbles across dolomite in various formations creating pools, slides and small water falls. We eagerly jumped into the cold water washing our sweat away from the short mile and a half hike. We jumped off rocks and splashed in the water as late as we could. We walked back to the picnic area where Uncle Tom broke out his amazing turkey sandwiches made of six different flavors of the same meat, some cheeses and mayonnaise. We ate up the sandwiches, some tapioca pudding and a brownie each. We had to drive home a little early to make sure Traci could get to school on time. The Johnson shut-ins were a fun place to spend a hot summer day.

We had spent the earlier part of the morning at Elephant Rocks state park which is about 15 miles away from the shut-ins. The park has huge granite rocks piled all over and we hiked and climbed our way through the park. On top of the rocks we could see a mile or two across the tree tops. Walking along the pink granite in the early morning sunlight gave the sense of being on another planet.