Missed our last post on Bell Smith Springs? Click here to read.
– by Gary Marks
According to Dictionary.com a landmark is the following:
A prominent or conspicuous object on land that serves as a guide, esp. to ships at sea or to travelers on a road; a distinguishing landscape feature marking a site or location.
In my opinion there are very few natural landmarks in Southern Illinois. There are several that come easily to mind. If you ask many Southern Illinoisans to name a natural landmark they would probably say Camel Rock at the Garden of the Gods or the Pomona Natural Bridge and I would agree with both of them.
To me though Devil’s Backbone would rate high amongst them. I had previously written about “the backbone” last summer and summarized my thoughts on how I believed it came into being:
I take a moment to really observe the geography of the area. The backbone seems to have been created from the undercutting of the creek. The stream would have eroded a shelter-type area leaving an overhang above. Over time, with the freezing and thawing seasonal cycle, the sheer weight of the overhanging rock would have given way, creating the backbone we enjoy today.
To the Backbone
Bell Smith Springs is truly an amazing place and I am back, but this time the area is blanketed with a layer of fresh snow. My footprints are the only ones that exist, all others had been wiped clean. Nothing in front, always in back.
I have just visited the Grand Staircase and this is my second stop on the tour of “The Bell”. Ice has frozen the pool of water that surrounds the backbone. The reddish-stained sandstone in the background provides a colorful backdrop, that appears to have been painted by a ingenious abstract artist.
I take my time, setting up the tripod and trying to figure out the best angle to photograph the jagged rocks that are highlighted with a cap of snow. I really do not feel I am finding a unique perspective, so after filming the area I head to another location where I could hopefully photograph a different angle.
To the Top
I zig-zag my way up to the top of the the opposite canyon bluff. I found this area only a couple of years ago after hiking a part of the white trail. At one point on the trail it has an excellent vantage point of the landmark.
I make my way to the overlook and set-up once again. Unlike the bottom, I feel like I am producing a more engaging photo. The size perspective is much smaller and gives me a view not regularly seen if one is not taking time to explore their surroundings.
It was here that the sun started poking through the deep wintry sky, making the rocks glow we a light I have not seen in a couple of days. I sit in the snow taking the whole show in. I feel privileged to have seen the backbone in a way that few ever do. I stand up and wipe the white flakes off my clothes, but what I fail to wipe off is the look of gratitude for being able to enjoy a wintry day in the Shawnee Hills.
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The author and Shawnee Hills Outdoors disclaim any liability or loss incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application on any information contained in this blog. If you do attempt to explore any of these areas make sure you are have the proper knowledge to survive in the woods, do not rely on a cellphone for help. Please check ranger stations and park superintendents for latest information regarding these areas. This website is for entertainment only.