Pickle Springs Natural Area- Trail Through Time

A holiday day off work paired with 50 degree weather was a good reason as any to spend the day hiking with my friend Tanya, as I'd been meaning to all winter. The day didn't look like it would turn out to be much, staying pretty cold well into the late morning with clouds and fog all over the place, but sure enough it warmed up and the sun even peeked out a few times! I wasn't sure how pretty a hike would be in mid January, but Pickle Springs was the absolutely perfect choice.Not only are there a lot of colors to be seen, from red ground to green-teal moss on the rocks, but also beautiful ice formations hanging from the rocks.

There is something to see almost every few minutes on the 2 mile trail at Pickle Springs, which took me much longer to hike than a normal 2-miler would because I had to keep stopping and exploring and admiring the sites. At the trailhead is a helpful booklet that outlines the trail, gives trail history, and gives information about the landmarks you will see on the loop, which was really helpful to have. Right away you find yourself at "The Slot," a passage way through the rocks-- this is where we got our first glimpse of the ice formations.The "Cauliflower Rocks" at first glance through the trees are impressive, not just for their size, but for the growth that gives them a bright green coloring. The "Double Arch" and the "Keyhole" are fun to sit in and explore, and you can do a bit of climbing and exploring around the rocks for views. As you continue through the trail, you cross over quite a few creeks (most of which were unfrozen due to the warmed weather, though all the ice formations were still intact-- a perfect combination) and miniature waterfalls. There is absolutely no sounds of traffic on this trail, so if there isn't a lot of pedestrian traffic, you can close your eyes and hear only the water. The ice-formations continue to be viewed along the whole trail, especially over the bluffs that surround you as you walk. "Spirit Canyon" had some particularly amazing formations, and you can just feel the chill radiating from the rocks as you get close.

The "Dome Rock Overlook" suddenly plunges you into what feels like a totally different environment. You are standing on what the guidebook calls "the largest hoodoo complex in the Natural Area." The trees are twisted and still green, and almost gave me the feeling that I was in another country. The views of the hills and trees and rocks are beautiful. You climb down from there to cross Pickle Springs, see the "Rockpile Canyon" of more giant, moss-covered rocks with hints of red, and Headwall Falls (which is off a very short spur with a platform to view-- the falls were frozen this time of year and there was some neat ice formations to look at instead).

I can't say how glad I am I went on this trail in the winter, where the ice-formations give it a unique feel. I would like to see it in the Spring as well. All in all, the trail was extremely easy to follow and well beaten down, though all rocks and earth, and there were signposts along the way to announce landmarks or features. This trail was a really nice length, and while for the most part very easy, had a few spots that had rocky inclines to push through that made me use my muscles. I really recommend this trial, and will hopefully take my father or sister to see it as well.

I took a ton of pictures, and some are posted in the link below, otherwise you can see the entire album at Pickle Springs on facebook

Happy New Year!

Very cold weather and busy holidays have kept me indoors for over a month now, it seems, which I am really ashamed of. I had sworn that I would try to keep this up in the winter months, but have slacked off. One of my New Year's resolutions will be to continue to keep up hiking all year round, for both pleasure and health. I can't wait to continue exploring new hikes around Missouri, as well as revisiting old ones, especially in the spring. I'm even currently convincing my father to take a trip with me this summer to Arkansas to hike Mt. Magazine! Hopefully I'll start getting out there again soon now that all the holiday bustle is over with, even if it means braving a bit of cold to do so.

I got this book, Hiking St. Louis by Evie P. Harris from my sister  for Christmas! It is very short and sweet, with hand-drawn maps (which I'm a little unsure of). I'm really excited because it has new hikes in it that aren't in the 60 Hikes in 60 Miles book. I am also excited because my sister and I haven't had a chance to hike together yet, so I'm looking forward to that.

A relative of mine lent me these really fantastically awesome hiking poles to try out next time I go hiking. While over at the house for Christmas Eve dinner, I got into a conversation with him about hiking, finding that he shares my interest, and I was really excited when he told me I should give these a try. They even adjust to fit my height! I remember seeing people in Austria use these while hiking, but have never tried them myself. It's also exciting to find someone new to discuss hiking with, and he gave me some neat ideas of trails to try in the area.

My relative also lent me this book, Everyday Wisdom: 1001 Expert Tips for Hikers by Karen Berger, during the same visit. I haven't had a chance to explore it much yet, but it seems to have everything from basic survival tips to more expert backpacking tips-- one day I would really love to be able to be experienced enough to go on a backpacking trip (though not alone, since my directional and map-reading skills are severely lacking).