Quote of the day, “This is stupid. Holy SHIT!” Overhead from across the pool, as a young man leapt from a cliff wall and cleared the rocks below by mere inches. He was right, the way that he was doing it was stupid. It would have been much safer, if he had climbed up the last ten feet to the top of the cliff, where the extra height gives you more time to launch yourself away from the rock wall, plus there are fewer rocks at the bottom there, or so I’ve been told.
We spent today at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. The Shut-In’s hard rhyolite rock refuses to relinquish its hold on the East Fork of the Black River. Unable to wander, the river is shut-in to a narrow channel. At 1.5 billion years of age, Johnson’s Shut-Ins are one of the oldest of US geological features. These are no candy-ass rocks and that stream is not going anywhere anytime soon. The rocks are hard and they come in two varieties, wet and slippery or dry and sharp. Enjoying the Shut-Ins is a learning experience and is not for the faint of heart. I am pleased to say that we both enjoyed our day at the Shut-Ins and returned home, injury free. Pictured is the maze of potholes, plunge pools and chutes that make up the main section of the Shut-Ins. Climbing, swimming and slithering through this labyrinth is so much fun. Off camera to the right are the two large swimming pools, where cliff diving is still prohibited, but is also still practiced. Off camera to the left are the baby Shut-Ins, for people who are faint of heart or parents with small children.
On December 12, 2005 disaster struck the Shut-Ins. A nearby earthen dam burst on Union Electric’s hilltop pump-station reservoir. Millions of gallons of water scoured the park’s landscape. It took four years for the park to fully reopen. Hundreds of car sized boulders were washed miles downstream and now litter the park’s landscape. The park’s natural habitat will take many years more to fully recover. File the above orange signage under closing the barn door after all the animals have escaped.