I've been researching new places to explore on the webernet lately in search of some cool glades or somewhere to see some unique wildlife in Missouri. Yeah, geeking out about catching lizards, snakes, frogs, and everything in between. "Herpin," as they call it.
I read some things old blog posts about this place called Cathedral Canyon. Everything I read was really cool, but I really could't seem to find anything stating where the hell this place was. I did find this Message Board that made me pretty excited to go there. After digging around for a while, I discovered this rarely traveled trail called "Lower Rock Creek" that opens up to Cathedral Canyon. Once I finally put this together I was able to locate somewhat sketchy directions on two message boards. Enough to google street view and see what I was getting in to. Found this video and read this info that stated the area had "collared lizards, cotton mouths, black bears," and etc, so lets go!
The directions I had weren't too bad ( minus the detour), until we got to the second "concrete bridge" and was supposed to turn onto the "rough road'" if you can really call it a road. Monica: "That's the road right there." Me: "That is a trail not a road" Monica: "It says it is a road" Me: "No way in hell is this a road
I swear this was literally tighter than some of the trails I used to ride motocross on. That and the giant boulders weren't too easy on my truck. I now have permanent scratches on both sides from front to back as if my truck had been keyed. NOTE: if you ever go here and have a vehicle you care about, park outside of the "rough road." I finally decided not to drive any further when my truck couldn't make it under this downed tree.
When we got out, Monica found all these guys which we are pretty sure were used to murder a human before someone out this way ate them. She is now turning them into a necklace.
From here we took off, hoping we knew where the hell we were going. We knew we were supposed to land at a pipe gate and the first trail would be located behind it.
When we got to it, we managed to take a path that actually was not a path, but rather a dried up creek bed. After about 20 minutes of hiking this thing, I realized this did not seem right. When we got back, we saw a lightly traveled dirt path going South West that looked a little more promising. Considering I was armed with only a compass and no maps or trail blazer, I was a little nervous. Two hours from home out in the middle of nowhere I don't know where the hell I am going and wasn't exactly sure I was in the right place. I love hiking, but I am by no means a boy scout. we are the king and queen of almost prepared.
So after we made it to the dirt path, we hiked a good 45 minutes or longer, through lots of areas that didn't look like they get a ton of foot traffic and covered with downed trees. This leaves us scratching our heads as to if we are going the right way or not. Really sketchy, but I had programmed the GPS coordinates of my truck into my magellan, so if all else fails, follow the arrow.
Stoked that we found it. I was expecting to hear rushing water as all the photos I have found showed clear blue rushing water much like the shut ins. Not here! Nothing. An absolute erie silence. Just us and nature... and the wind picking up once and a while.
I marked our path entrance ads not to get lost, but we were eager to dig around in this place. As soon as we hit the canyon, there are 5 lined skinks, fence lizards, and multiple other skinks running all over the place. The rock walls were so rad and the rocks were covered in all sorts of random... stuff.
When we got down to the bottom of the canyon and started hiking around, Monica almost steps directly on what I had overlooked as being a HUGE, fat coiled up cotton mouth. This is the first time in my 31 years that I had seen one in person. Sadly I couldn't get my camera out in time to snap it before he slithered under a rock.
We did see plenty more, but none of them in quite the photogenic setting. This guy was so robust, he was about the size of Monica's forearm. They are probably in heaven when this canyon is dry like this. Tiny pools of water that are filled with fish that have no where to hide.
Stoked to see these guys, but very paranoid after seeing them and almost stepping on them. From then on we were a little overly cautious. Monica wins the prize for spotting these. I read that they sometimes have enough venom to kill a man 5 times over. Not good when you are miles away from your truck and don't really know exactly where you are.
I did however meet some nice folks like this guy. Midland Water snake. I like them though they are pretty common and I was really hoping that this trip would introduce me to some HOGNOSE SNAKE'S, ROUGH GREEN SNAKES, and believe it or not I wanted to see a wild Timber Rattle Snake as i have yet to spot one in the wild.
I suppose in the spring, when this canyon is full there is no option but to walk or swim in the water. We had to take a lot of detours through tall weeds and thorns presumably full of snakes.
We found a lot of friends on the way back. One got away without a tale.
Pretty good use of our time on a holiday. My goal is to come back and do the entire 7 miles, but it will probably be a while what with the move and the trip to Austin. Oh... and work.