"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19

"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19
"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Chert Glades, Part 2 of the Start of Our Trip - Tues., July 11, 2018

(Continued from Part 1...)
Susan and I had already signed in for our walk in Joplin, Missouri. As we drove from the check-in point to our hotel, we discussed whether it would be better to walk in the evening or the next morning. If we walked in the evening, we could head north earlier in the morning. And that's what we did. However, we did miss out on the Visitor Center.

Our walk started at the Wildcat Glades Conservation Park just down the freeway from our motel. Because my knee is still healing, we did a 6k walk (3.7 miles) instead of our usual 10k. That's good because we got a late start and we'd lose daylight by the end of the walk.

Wildcat Glades is a very unique natural area. It protects some of the only remaining chert beds in the world. Our walk information did not include any information on the chert beds, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. My, oh, my, what a special spot! Here's what Wikipedia taught me:
"Chert glades are a habitat which only exists in [the] southern Missouri area. They are described as a near desert-like environment. This is due to the hard chert bedrock underneath the soil, which has eroded and been exposed to the surface. Plants characteristic of arid areas, including cacti, grow here. Other plants had to adapt to the environment, resulting in some species having stunted growth."
The geologic area is called the Grand Falls Formation. The chert beds are over six feet thick here. Chert glades are only found along Shoal Creek and its tributaries in Joplin, Missouri (a two-square-mile area).

Picnic area in a chert glade
Our Volksmarch followed a short portion of the trails in the park. It did not go up on the ridge or through Mother Nature's Gap. We started at a parking lot and walked a short distance on the trail before crossing a single-lane bridge over Shoal Creek and then walking along a road to Grand Falls, Missouri's largest continuously running waterfall at 12' tall and 163' wide.

Shoal Creek
Susan enjoying the view at Shoal Creek
The I-35 bridge

Shoal Creek as seen from the low-water bridge

We felt like we were way out in the country, even though Grand Falls was only about 1-1/2 miles from I-35. Susan and I thought it would have been a nicer walk if we didn't have to walk on the narrow road most of the way. 

Gorgeous daylilies in a yard
It was quite humid and I kept trying to keep sweat, laced with mosquito repellent, from running in my eyes. The sleeve of my T-shirt had to do because I forgot to bring a towel. 

Even though the road followed Shoal Creek, we rarely saw it, so when we came to the parking area for Grand Falls, it was a pleasant surprise. The chert beds are quite obvious here. 

If you look closely at the top center of the photo below, you will see two people sitting in lawn chairs. You can see what erosion has done over the years.

Grand Falls is quite the local cooling off spot. People were hanging out in the water and others were in the water fishing.

Grand Falls
There is a small dam on top of and to
the side of the falls.
Grand Falls
Grand Falls is one of the largest falls in Missouri
A nice swimming hole below the falls

Fishing at the falls
Proof I made it
It was getting late so we had to high-tail it back to the car. The road we were walking on did not have streetlights and it was dusk. Cars drove pretty cautiously, for the most part.

We are definitely out in the country here!
This is a horse farm.
I was able to capture one last shot of Shoal Creek from the low-water crossing bridge. A car was waiting for me to get across so I had to hurry and take the photo.

The very last portion of the trail back through the chert glades was pretty dark when we returned. But we were able to see enough and the path was paved, so no rocks or roots under our feet. 

It was a pleasant walk and I'd like to come back sometime and do the 10k walk. I wonder if it goes on more of the trails in the park. Thank you to the Dogwood Trailblazers Club for hosting this walk! We appreciate your hard work.

We were tired and made a beeline back to our motel. We had left San Antonio at 6:10 a.m. and got back to our rooms about 9:30 p.m. Time to get some rest!

Tomorrow is a driving day to Eagan, Minnesota. Dinner tomorrow will be with my friends, Dave and Jyl Navarro. They live in Mankato Lake and plan to drive 45 minutes to meet us. That will be a nice visit.

It's hard to believe how far we've traveled in today. Over and out. 

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