Posted by: cctracker | February 20, 2012

Missouri Gems in Sandy Bottoms, Granite Knobs

It takes a little over an hour by car from St. Louis and then just a few minutes of steady walking to find yourself  hidden away in an Ozark wilderness.

Photo James Burton

And if you catch a perfect February day like today, you’ll be warm and comfortable enough to stop for as long you like to be dazzled by color and texture only a late, Missouri winter can deliver.

Sparkling, slow, sandy-bottomed, spring-fed creeks wind through clefts in the hills.

Photo James Burton

High above them in the sun against an open blue sky, stand ancient knobs with polished granite benches facing south, waiting for pilgrims carrying hard-boiled eggs and oranges.

Photo James Burton

And when you’re in amid the trees neither high nor low, no leaves distract you from the simple glories of tree bark: polished like muscled-granite on Ironwood saplings, alternately grooved in purple and gray on massive Red Oaks downed by storms  and, in the case of Shortleaf Pines, racked around trunks in cubed geometry like scales on the leg of a dinosaur.

Photo James Burton

There are no words for the kind of refreshment I get from a day like this. And yet, days go by and I forget–even come to doubt– this kind of grace. Until, in something like an act of faith, I take another hike.

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