Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hiking Knob Noster State Park's Opossum Hollow Trail

Trail Sign, Your mileage may vary.
It was a late winter day, mid-February, with unseasonably warm temperatures with highs in the 60's when I hiked the Opossum Hollow Trail at Knob Noster State Park.  This is a 5.5 mile trail with several connector trails to shorten or lengthen a hike.  The connectors allow you to break up the trail into three separate loops each a few miles long. I had hiked portions of this trail over past months in training to complete the entire trail. 

Knob Noster SP was originally the Montserrat Recreational Demonstration Area from the 1930's. A part of the Work's Progress Administration (WPA) Program.  The idea behind the project was to create outdoor recreational areas near major metropolitan areas to give people an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. 

The area where the trail is located is old farmland but is now mostly woodland in which you'll find remnants from previous landowners farms and some old road beds. Older maps indicate the presence of several old roads throughout the area.  Occasionally you can find an old road bed along the way.

Sullivan Lake
There are five lakes in the state park all built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930's. They are Buteo Lake, Clearfork Lake, Morel Lake, Sullivan Lake and Redbud Lake (now drained).  The trail passes by Sullivan Lake, a heavily trafficked area as evidenced by the well trodden path around the lower half of the lake.

I struggled with the later third of the hike by simply running out of energy.  I had a light breakfast, as I normally do which was a mistake.  According to my FitBit I had burned almost 3000 calories during my hike.  In the future I will need to eat a more substantial breakfast.  

I also ended up with a fairly painful blister on the ball of my left foot as well as calluses on both feet. Wearing my shoes tighter and duct taping portions of my feet should help address that problem in the future.

After the hike I grabbed a quick lunch and returned to hang my hammock in the old pine grove picnic area that had been planted by the CCC boys.  It was relaxing and beautiful. My hammock is an ENO DoubleNest with Atlas Straps.  Its affordable, lightweight and comfortable.

A map showing my route. The total distance was 6.4 miles with 630 feet of elevation change and completed in 4:35 including rest breaks.

Map image courtesy of CalTopo.com

Round Rocks of Missouri

This adventure started more than 300 million years ago. I wasn't around then which is a good thing. Because something pretty drastic happened. It was in 1948 that a geologist first noticed that the area around Weaubleau Creek was different. That something pretty unusual had happened there many, many years ago. It wasn't until 2003 or so that a geologist began digging a little further and has put together evidence that a large meteorite, 1200 feet long impacted in the area just south of what is now Osceola, MO around 310 to 340 million years ago.

Back then Missouri was covered in a shallow sea. When the meteorite struck it created a crater that was 12 miles wide and jettisoned rocks and debris over a much larger area. Geologist combing the area have found evidence of this impact and are continuing to put together the pieces to make their case. The impact site is located north of Coon Creek and just south of the Village of Vista, Missouri to the west of Highway 13.

Close up of Missouri rock ball from roadside park.
But if you go there you won't see anything you'd recognize as a crater. What you can find in the area, particularly to the north and east of the site are what have been called by locals for years "round rocks" or "Missouri rock balls." These round rocks range from golfball size to grapefruit size with some reports of rocks as large as basketballs. Resident of the area find this rocks laying on the surface of the ground or washed out of river banks or road cuts. I found several round rocks in a road cut along Highway 13 and one along a low water bridge in the impact area.

At a roadside park on Highway 8 south of Osceola, MO.
Residents of the area have know for years about the round rocks. They have used them in building projects for many years.

It seems that when the meteorite struck it broke up gravel sized bits of shale that in the soup of silt and minerals that remained after the impact eventually conglomerated to make these round rocks.

There are many geologic wonders of Missouri left to be rediscovered by you. Get out and see what you can see of this wild Missouri.