Don Robinson State Park opened in January and I’ve been 3 times since. It’s only about 45 minutes from downtown St. Louis, so its perfect for a quick day hike. This park features unique geological features including a sandstone canyon. Each of these 3 visits offered something unique because of Missouri’s crazy spring weather. The first was a beautiful Saturday in February and the warmest visit out of the three. The second was a last minute trip because of some late snow and the final visit was after the record rains in May. I knew there would be plenty of small waterfalls so I grabbed my camera and went chasing waterfalls. This visit did not disappoint! The minute we hit the trail we heard the water pouring down the hills and over the rocks and small cliffs. I always say the best time to visit the parks is when the weather isn’t ideal. You may leave muddy and wet but It gives you the opportunity to be out there alone and the opportunity to capture some unique images. These visits are always more memorable than the 70 degree sunny days. So get out there during those cloudy & rainy days this and chase the waterfalls.
When people think about National Parks. They often immediately think of Yosemite, Yellowstone, RMNP. But many people overlook the parks that can be found right here in our ozark backyard. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways was established in 1964 as the first protected U.S. riverway. The park includes stretches of the Current and Jack Forks rivers. For many years I have fished the Current headwaters located in Montauk state park as well as floated the Cedargrove to Akers stretch a couple times. However this time we decided to visit a few of the massive springs that feed these rivers.
We started our weekend at the brand new Echo Bluff State park located on sinking creek which feeds the Current river. The name sinking creek explains some of the geology that creates these springs. Much of the area lies on karst topography made up of Dolomite or Limestone. So the rivers and creeks actual sink down through the porous stone. These under ground rivers flow until they find an outlet to the surface, like at Round, Alley and Blue Springs that we visited. And yes the springs really are that blue! It’s caused by the dissolved limestone and depth of the spring. Below the photos I have included a few stats for each of the springs pictured.
If you are a Missouri native and have never visited the scenic river ways you should. It will help you to appreciate the great outdoors and beauty that Missouri has to offer. The springs are some of the bluest of blues and seem to be completely out of this world. We are lucky to have this park and fortunate that it is saved from future development and preserved in its wildest state for future generations. Now more than ever it is imperative that we help to preserve the pristine water & natural areas that we have. Our future generations depend on it for clean water, air, job creation and economic prosperity. Even more reason to urge your local government to deliver on the international climate commitments of the ParisAgreement.
Round Spring: 26 million gallons per day and named for the almost perfectly circular cavern that it flows into. It is also right down the road from Echo Bluff.
Alley Spring: 81 million gallons per day and location of Alley Mill which is featured on the newest of the America the Beautiful Quarters released on June 5th.
Blue Spring: 93 Million gallons per day and the bluest and deepest of Missouri’s springs. the conduit has been mapped at over 300 vertical feet.
For more info on the Springs: https://www.nps.gov/ozar/learn/nature/springs.htm
Info on Echo Bluff: https://mostateparks.com/park/echo-bluff-state-park
Sarah and I married each other September 24, 2016 after 5 years of dating, and decided to wait to honeymoon until January. With me still being in school and starting a new job, we decided it just made sense. And we are both definitely glad we did.
Now I must say that I’m not the best beach bum, so the idea of spending a whole week on a touristy resort made me cringe. So…we didn’t do that, we honeymooned our way. That means taking in the local culture, going on hikes, hanging out on remote beaches, staying in sketchy Airbnb’s, forgetting luggage, & missing the occasional flight. Time & time again getting off the beaten path always provides the best memories and stories.
I wouldn’t trade these experiences & memories for anything but I would definitely give Sarah one more day at the beach. But after it was all said and done we both wouldn’t have had it any other way. Here are some key takeaways from our trip to paradise (St. Thomas, St. John, San Juan).
- Ft. Lauderdale airport is the absolute worst
- When you miss a connecting flight out of Puerto Rico immediately begin drinking Cubre Libres with Ron del Barrilito
- Go straight to the public beaches in the Virgin Islands, trust me they don’t mess around with their beautiful beaches
- Bring an underwater camera, you’ll regret missing the stingray photo ops.
- Hike through Virgin Islands National Park. But first, ask about the North Shore vs. South Shore surf conditions
- Spend a whole day at Solomon & Honeymoon Beaches
- Spend a whole day at Lindquist beach
- Snorkel, Snorkel, Snorkel
- Get your morning provisions from latte in paradise
- When in San Juan, make & drink as many mojitos & daiquiris as possible. So. Damn. Refreshing.
- Eat at El Jibarito in San Juan…My god authentic Puerto Rican food is good. Mofongo anyone?
- Walk the streets of San Juan and take in the vibrant culture of the city, endless photo ops, delicious coffee, refreshing drinks and amazing food and delightful locals.
Right after a big rain or weather event I always have an itch to get out and hike. Sometimes it even develops into anxiety, fearing that i’ll miss something if I don’t. Often because the best time to hike is sometimes the worst time to leave the house. On days like these you rarely come across other people and many times leave with experiences that will disappear with the weather.
After January’s ice storm I headed out to Labarque Creek, one of Missouri Conservation’s many areas, to take a look at mother nature’s work. There were a few other cars in the parking lot and I could tell by their tracks that another hiker and dog had hit the trail ahead of me. But besides those tracks their was not many other signs of life. That is until the end of the trail. All I could heard was the crunching of the ice under my boots and the occasional falling limb succumbing to the weight of it’s ice encasement. It made for one of the more serene hikes that i’ve been on.
When leaving the area I passed a bow hunter going in. It was an interesting juxtaposition. Me passing with my camera, the hunter passing with his bow. This made me think about how important the outdoors are to so many different people. It reminds me that we are all in this together and that it’s everyones jobs to help preserve these areas for future generations. Whether that means, the hikers, cyclist, hunters, climbers, fisherman or the picnickers. We all need to come together to stand up to the current administration and protect this place that we call home.
These are long over do but here a some photos I took while on vacation in Colorado last July.
Ever since this Colorado trip I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the American west. This happens every time I travel west, or any direction really. I immediately fall in love with the city, landscape, culture etc. and have an immense itch to get the hell outta St. Louis. Anyway here are the photos and a few things we learned.
- 90 degree Colorado weather and hammocks are 100 times better than STL weather and hammocks
- The Rockies will never get the pitching needed to bring that city a championship
- Princess Yum Yum is delicious and I am now forever a fan of Denver Beer Co.
- Always audible and hike 8 miles to a random alpine lake in a National Forest
- Bring your fly rod on every hike…there will be fish
- Mountain meadows & waterfalls make for the best lunch spots
- Bourbon is the best reward after climbing waterfalls
- Work for a Fort Collins brewery is the ultimate career
- If there is a burrito with green chili on the menu, you order it.
- I will soon be a proud owner of a Subaru
- Finally never give Sam a knife…he will cut himself
So before I dive into all the photos from my week in the Rockies, I wanted to post about one of the great State parks right in our own back yard. I post about this area of MO time and time again. Not only because it’s a great place to photograph, but the area offers great hiking, camping, floating and of course wine.
Just south of St. Louis near Farmington you’ll find Johnson Shut-ins State Park. A few weeks back a friend and I took a drive down to the park to break in and test some of our gear before our big Rocky Mountain trip. Or was it because I didn’t want to sit in an office that day? Either way great excuse. Generally most photos from the park will showcase the mobs of weekenders found lounging and swimming at the popular and picturesque shut-ins. However I think one of the parks best assets is the Shut-Ins Trail and the Scour trail.
The Shut-ins trail features some gorgeous views of the crystal clear Black River and the Scour trail tells the power of water through the story of the Ameren reservoir breach in 2005. So before you start planning your great adventure out west, remember we have some gems right here in our own backyard.
So I promise you that I will soon have some photos shot on my DSLR from this trip. For now check out a few grams from my recent trip to Colorado. We started out in Denver, headed to Granby, Next onto Rocky Mountain National park and ending our adventure in Fort Collins at Odell and New Belgium. More in depth posts about the trip are coming.