Important Note: According to a sign posted near the trailhead this area will this area has been selected for prescribed burning between the months of October 2010 and May 2011 . Before exploring this area please contact the Hidden Springs Ranger District at (618) 658-2111 for the latest details.
This series, Notes from the Trail, focuses on thoughts and events that happen with the interactions in nature.
This is the second of a two part series on One Horse Gap. If you missed the first one check it out by clicking the following: Notes from the Trail: One Horse Gap – Part I
This road is not always reliable so please note one may need a high-clearance vehicle to get to this trailhead.
Monday August 30, 2010
My mind is in a state of alertness as I continue exploring. Soon afterward I hear the sound of children on the top of another outcrop. The sounds of laughter and yelling mingle with the barking of dogs. I lower my alert level and catch only flashing glimpses of them.
The sun finally makes an appearance as I look for photo opportunities. Parts of the rock are fully exposed and sweat begins to build. I find some shade and quench my thirst and sit down and take a quick lunch break. If it had decided to rain these rocks would not be the place to be. The surface would become slick and dangerous, but at this moment they are bone-dry and navigable.
As I sit I look over towards were the “Gap” should be. I calculate in my mind the most photogenic way to get there. A slight breeze blows across my warm forehead and for a short time I stop thinking and live in the moment.
After lunch, I wind my way back down the lumps and hike around the base of the sandstone. I find a couple of interesting places where one can walk between slabs of rock. One creates a doorway that greets you into the the land of boulders. Another takes you deep between a split in the bluff where you can have to bend down and crawl. I decide not to film this area for its lack of light.
I meet up with the lower gap trail and descend towards a small empty creek. On the other side the bluff protrudes from the hillside giving shelter to former campers. I know this creek from previous hikes and head north amongst the thick trees and plant life. Thoughts of copperheads and rattlesnakes fill my head and I cautiously inch my way towards my destination.
I locate a small ledge and grasp onto the bluff and pull myself up. The ledge runs a short distance towards a small pool that is near the bottom of a narrow chute. I have previously been here when water funnels down and fills the valley with the sound of rushing water, but today the valley is silent and the cascade is dry.
I start ascending the chute. The bluff to my left is deeply scarred with the effects of the erosive power of water. The sandstone is wrinkled and folded and provides a great backdrop for filming. I remind myself to come back to this place after a nice rain. This fall would be a productive time here but a sign when I first came in said they may be doing prescribed burns in the between October 2010 and May 2011.
I take a right and head up a side channel. The sandstone opens up and lets the sun beat down. Dark water stains mark the location of where the water descends after a drenching rain. On top the bulging sandstone turns back to upland forest. A trail leads of to the left and skirts the outer edge of the sandstone desert.
The forest soon gives way to a large area that looks to have been occupied for some time. Horse tie-down rails give away the destination I am at, One Horse Gap. I start my descent between two separate folds of rock. This section lives up to its name and could easily be called One Hiker Gap, also. As I descend I imagine horses single file navigating this gap. It would seem not the place for a nervous horse. This gap is one of the few places to ascend from the bottom to the top of the bluff. It provides a natural entrance way for both the horse rider and explorer.
The gap soon makes it way out onto flatter land where jumble of rocks makes one question, which way to go. I follow the most well-worn path and see a sign at an intersection. I have come once again upon the River to River trail and take a right. I follow the rounded mounds and see where I first spotted the children and dogs and soon am back to where I explored the top of the mounds and ate lunch.
As I head towards my vehicle the sound of large metal equipment dumping gravel can be heard. I hear it a couple of times more as I wind my way down and soon come to the conclusion that it is not the sound of man, but the sound thunder in the distance. I look up and see the clouds gently grasping the sun. The southern sky fills with signs of an approaching thunderstorm.
I am thankful that the storms held off while I spent over three hours exploring one of the hidden wonders of the Shawnee National Forest at One Horse Gap.
Note: The cascade photo was taken in late fall of 2007. The other two photo were taken during August 2010
According to a sign posted near the trailhead this area will this area has been selected for prescribed burning between the months of October 2010 and May 2011 . Before using this area please contact the Hidden Springs Ranger District at (618) 658-2111.
Disclaimer: 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. Although this post talks and shows video of a person hiking alone, it is the best policy to always have a hiking partner. 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.
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In Part One of this special series we show the approximate location for the trail head. Please note that you may need a high-clearance vehicle to navigate this road. Click here to see Part One.