Two Years Later

Tomorrow, October 7th will be two years since I had my complete ankle replacement surgery. The recovery hasn’t been that easy but I was able to get through it. I still have some pain and I am always battling the inflammation. However it is bearable and a far better place than where I was.

I don’t have the chronic pain like I had, so my quality of life has improved. I have been doing some hiking trying to build back up to where I use to be. I can do a moderate trail with very little problems but tried one difficult trail and it didn’t go as well as I was hoping. Maybe next year. The healing process goes on.

Even with the swelling and some pain, I am much better off than I was before the surgery. I am at least hiking and I am fly fishing again. All in all the surgery was worth it and I would do it again. I am once again enjoying camping and some hiking.

I am not going to sugar coat it. The recovery is tough. Don’t ever think it is going to be a walk in the park. It feels good to be able to do things

Devil’s Honeycomb Trail (Hughes Mountain)

Located in the Hughes Mountain Natural Area is a trail called Devil’s Honeycomb Trail. It consists of glades, savanna, old fields and it is half forest. Polygonal columns of rhyolite make up what the locals call the Devil’s Honeycomb and is located at the highest point of the mountain. It is one of Missouri’s geologic wonders.

Around 1.5 billion years ago the rocks were liquefied by volcanoes associated with the St. Francois Mountains. The molten rock contracted, and as it cooled cracked and created multi-sided columns and created a rhyolite formation that locals named the Devil’s Honeycomb. The Precambrian rock outcrops are among the most ancient, exposed rocks in the United States.

The Hughes Mountain Natural Area is located off highway M, 3 miles southeast of Irondale.

Hughes Mountain Natural Area

Hughes Mountain is located in southern Washington County in Missouri. The area was designated a natural area in 1982. It is made up of a combination of igneous glades and three types of forests. Precambrian rock outcrops found in the area are 1.5 billion years old making them among the most ancient, exposed rocks in the United States.

The area is named after the first European settler, who arrived in 1810, John Hughes. The Conservation Department purchased the land from the Hughes family. The rhyolite formation located at its highest point is known by locals as the Devil’s Honeycomb. Because of my late start and other time restraints I was unable to make my way to this area. Another trip is planned for the near future.

Glades located within the area are natural openings located on the western and southern slopes where native grasses and a variety of wildflowers can be found. Glade plants include little bluestem, broomsedge, poverty grass, flame flower, prickly pear cactus, yellow star grass, spiderwort, and wild hyacinth.

The trail is 1.6 miles long and is an out-and-back trail near Irondale, MO. I found it to be a moderately challenging trail but was fairly well maintained with trail arrows. On average it takes 48 minutes to complete however time gets away from you when snapping photos. The trail is open year round and dogs are welcome but they must be on a leash. The trail is popular among birders, hikers and runners. However, if you see me running, run, because something is chasing me.

NOTE: All pictures were taken by me and the property of Double D Acres LLC and may not be used without my permission.

Do You See What I See

“To me photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Elliott Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt was famous for his uncanny ability to capture on film the humor and irony of everyday life.

Fortunately, we are all different. The world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things. Ten people can look at the same picture and see it fourteen different ways. As a photographer I want the viewer to see what I see. When I see something that excites me, I immediately begin analyzing the shot trying to figure out how to shoot the picture for the viewer to understand what I see. In this particular picture I would have to ask which came first? The rocks or the tree.

This shot was taken on a ridge that paralleled the St. Francis River inside the Silver Mines Recreation Area near Fredericktown, MO. It is along a trail that runs parallel with the river along the ridge and just to the right a trail takes off up the ridge. My thinking is the rocks were put there many years ago to mark the trail when the tree was small.

More pictures of the trail that runs along the west ridge overlooking the river.

Dillard Mill State Historic Site

Saturday, February 5, I journeyed to the Dillard Mill State Site located in Davisville, MO. The area was snow covered and the roads going to the mill weren’t in very good shape. There were a couple of times I got a little nervous.

The mill is located along the banks of the Huzzah Creek and is one of the state’s best-preserved gristmills. The mill was completed in 1908 and most of the machinery is still in intact and original to the building. The 132-acre site, even though privately owned, has been operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 2015. The park is under a lease agreement with the L-A-D Foundation.

The first mill was built in 1853 and was known as the Wisdom Mill but unfortunately was destroyed by fire in 1895. A new mill was constructed in 1908 and was named the Mische Mill. The owners altered the course of the stream and used an underwater turbine in place of an old waterwheel. It operated until 1956. Then in 1975, when the state took over management of the site and it was given the name Dillard Mill. Restoration wasn’t completed until 1980.

The site offers its visitors opportunities to fish, hike, picnic or to revisit the past.

If you would like to purchase a print contact me at dwwhite1954@gmail.com. I offer prints as well as framed and matted.

Millstream Gardens on an Autumn Day

I headed to Millstream Gardens in Madison County about half way between Fredericktown and Arcadia, Missouri. It is connected to Silver Mines Conservation Area via a trail that runs along the St. Francis River. It’s part of the Mark Twain National Forest. I was to meet a friend and his daughter. We met up around noon. They have a paved trail accessible by wheelchair that goes a mile down the trail to a scenic overlook.

We had a perfect day for a hike. We headed out down the trail. It is an easy hike to the overlook named Cats Paw. Not sure how it got its name but it didn’t disappoint as you an see by the photo below.

We decided to take a trail down to the river. Now this part would be considered hard. Steep and rocky and we had to climb over rocks but it was certainly worth the effort. The scenery was breathtaking. Mother Nature’s beauty at her finest. When they have the kayak races here in the spring the water is usually up quite a bit from the spring rains. I stood there trying to envision the kayakers trying to maneuver their yaks through this swift water around the big boulders that littered the river bed. I think I will lave that up to the professionals.

We didn’t want to leave. It was so peaceful sitting there on the rocks listening to the water rushing past the boulders. We reluctantly started our way back to the parking lot and our vehicles. It is a damn good day when you can share an experience like this with friends. It was a grand day.

Following are a few of the 127 pictures I took. I hope you enjoy them and can feel what we felt being there beside the river. We will definitely be going back for sure. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

Camping In Missouri

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach of us more than we can learn from books.” – John Lubbock

Camping has become very popular for many Missourians. Camping venues, state and private, fill up rapidly on the weekends and some places are booked weeks in advance. They bring everything from RVs loaded with all the conveniences of home to the simple tent. Whatever makes them happy.

At the age of 66 I still prefer tent camping. I have been known to just roll out a pad and sleep on it. The simpler the better. I have a one man tent and a 3 man. I use the one man for one nighters and the 3 man for extended nights in one place.

3 man tent
Food taste better when cooked at camp.

There are so many choices for campers in Missouri. There are 41 state parks with over 3600 campsites. From lakes, rivers to trout parks there is a campsite waiting for you. Fun for the whole family. mdc.mo.gov

You can also find an abundance of privately owned parks throughout the state. Campers have so much to choose from in the state of Missouri.

Kayaking on Bismark Lake

Mother Nature and Respect

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Walden Henry David Thoreau

The definition of nature is the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities. It is also defined as the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations. One could say that nature is everything.

There is a saying “Stop and smell the roses.” Relax and take time to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life. Stop stressing out, overthinking or complaining. My version is “Stop and drink of the beauty of nature.”

As spring draws near camping season comes into view. The weekend warriors who live in the cities and suburbs will begin their assault upon the campgrounds. They appear in the parks pulling their 30 foot campers loaded with all the amenities of home. I don’t think this is what Thoreau had in mind when he advocated that people leave their urban and industrialized areas to explore nature. He felt that “modern life” robbed people of their best selfs and that living in harmony with nature was essential. In today’s society the campgrounds are so overpopulated that they are nothing more than smaller communities of which they were trying to leave behind.

In Missouri the rivers and Ozark streams become heavily congested with weekend floaters occupying rafts, inner tubes, kayaks, and boats. Sadly the amount of litter left behind is mind boggling. Thoreau often wrote about the importance of preserving the wilderness and the importance of living in harmony with nature. His ideas are completely lost on the minds of the majority of weekend revelers. One can see the evidence if they float the rivers on Monday morning. Sandbars and gravel bars are littered with aluminum cans, trash, and an occasional tent. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you pack it in pack it out. It is that simple. My motto is is,”Leave it better than you found it.”

We as a whole need to learn to respect Mother Earth and what she has given us. Preserve the magnificent beauty of Mother Earth so that future generations can enjoy it. We don’t know what we have until it is gone.

“I love nature partly because she is not a man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.” – Henry David Thoreau’s Journal

A Day in the Arcadia Valley of Missouri

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Welcome Center Fort Davidson Pilot Knob, MO

My long time friend David Tripp journeyed from Texas to visit his parents and he got in touch with me and we decided to take a trip to the Arcadia Valley in Missouri.  The temperatures were bitter cold but we didn’t let that stop us.  We decided to start our day with lunch at the Fort Davidson Restaurant in Pilot Knob, MO.

After an excellent lunch we headed to the site of Fort Davidson. The only thing left of the fort is the earthworks of the fort, surrounding the huge hole that was caused by a powder explosion.  The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners acquired and preserved 41 acres of the battlefield that are now a part of the state historic site.

The Battle of Fort Davidson, also known as the Battle of Pilot Knob, was fought on September 27, 1864.  It was the opening engagement of Price’s Missouri Raid during the American Civil War.  Price had the Union army  outnumbered by more than 10 to 1 but Thomas Ewing’s men held off Price’s Confederate army during the day and when night time fell they were able to slip away leaving the Confederates with possession of the fort.

On the site is a granite monument that marks where a mass grave is.  Maps are available at the Visitors’ Center that can be used to do a self-guided tour.  The visitor center offers a narrated version of the battle and its context within the Civil War.

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Dam of the Iron Mountain Lake  in Missouri

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Wooden bridge spanning the creek that handles the overflow.

After visiting Fort Davidson we headed over to see Iron Mountain Lake in St. Francois county of Missouri.  It is located in the city of Iron Mountain Lake whose population was estimated in 2016 to be around 736.

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View from the top of Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri

Our next stop would be Taum Sauk Mountain which is a part of the St. Francois Mountains.  It is the highest natural point in the state of Missouri coming in at 1,772 feet.  It is believed that Tom Sauk Mountain was named after Sauk-Ton-Qua a Piankeshaw chief.  The view on top is quite breathtaking in the least.

There is a state park on Taum Sauk that is made up of 7500 acres.  There are a series of trails in the park including a portion of the Ozark Trail.  There is a 12-site basic campground and a special use area for non-profit youth organizations.  For day use there is a picnic area.

The park has its own legend.  It is a Native American “Romeo and Juliet” story.  The daughter of Piankeshaw chieftain Sauk-Ton-Qua’s daughter Mina Sauk fell in love with an Osage Indian warrior.  They met secretly and one day she was caught in his arms.  There was a trial and he was found guilty and he was executed.  Mina Sauk was so heartbroken she plunged from a cliff and took her own life.  This tragedy unfolded at a place on the mountain now called Mina Sauk Falls.

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View on top of Tom Sauk Mountain

We loaded up and headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, a geologic marvel. The park encompasses an outcrop of Precambrian granite in the Saint Francois Mountains.  The name comes from a line of large granite boulders that resemble elephants.  Recreation is available in the form of picnicking, rock climbing and trail exploration. It is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The land that makes up the park was donated by geologist John Stafford in 1967.

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Elephant Rocks

 

The last stop was the historic Caledonia, MO., a small town located in Washington county.  The town was laid out in 1819 and was named after the Roman Empire’s Latin name for Scotland.  The town has had the presence of a post office since 1819.  The 2010 census showed a population of 130.  The town is also known for its annual Pumpkin Festival.

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Two historical homes of  Caledonia

It was a good day and there is so much to see in the Arcadia Valley.  There is also Johnson Shut Ins, Royal Gorge, Marble Creek Recreation Area and Immanuel Lutheran Church 1861.  There are places to camp or one can choose to stay in one of the many Bed and Breakfasts, Inns or motels.  The towns of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob are located within the valley.  It is a great way to spend the day or weekend.  I highly recommend Fort Davidson Restaurant if you are looking for some great cooking.

Spread the love and be kind to each other.

 

Silver Mines Recreation Area

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Turkey Creek meets St. Francis River/Silver Mines

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” – John Muir  Our National Parks

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St. Francis River/Silver Mines

I would like to share with you an area in Madison County Missouri located along the St. Francis River.  It is a piece of paradise named Silver Mines Recreation Area.  It is part of the old Einstein Mines where the Einstein Mining Company began mining silver, tungsten and lead in 1877 and ceased mining in 1946.  The area is known  for its Precambrian and felsite rocks.

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St. Francis River/Silver Mines

Silver Mines offers a variety of recreational opportunities and is abundant with historical and geological wonders.  The St. Francis River is the only river in Missouri classified as a “white water” river.  It is very popular with kayakers during the spring high water.  Parts of the river are used for swimming, other parts are good fishing and the state holds an annual kayaking competition the third weekend of March, providing  the water levels are sufficient.  There is a two mile trail that follows both sides of the river with some breath taking views, for those addicted to hiking.

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St. Francis River/Silver Mines

When I was younger we would meet my grandparents there and camp for the weekend.  I took a couple of walks down memory lane and I recalled all the good times we had there.  It was all tent camping and sometimes it got rough.  There were some great camp sites and the park was well maintained.  The area is alive with spectacular scenery and is occupied by many varieties of wildlife.

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St. Francis River near Fredericktown, MO

“In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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St. Francis River/Silver Mines

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out til sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir

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St. Francis River/Silver Mines

 

“Any fool can destroy trees.  They cannot run away; and if they could, they could, they would be destroyed – chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones.” – John Muir

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St. Francis River/Silver Mines

Well I hope you enjoyed reading and I thank you for taking the time to do so.  We are blessed with some very nice state parks in Missouri and I tip my hat to the Missouri Conservation Department.  If you have never been here, be sure and put it on your bucket list.  Spread the Love!