Today was the pick day of the week. With sunny skies and a high in the sixties, even though this day was the shortest one of the year, it was nice while it lasted. We still have lots of Christmas stuff to get done this week, but today was a play day. We had been looking at visiting one of the many conservation areas in the area, but Anne was leery of going into woods frequented by hunters. We hit upon Hawn, a new to me state park. Although, Anne once had a geology class field trip there. Like many of Missouri’s state parks, Hawn inherits its name from the landowner who bequeathed their land to the state. Helen Hawn, a rural public school teacher donated the original 1,500 acres of what is now almost a 5,000 acre state park. It must be one heck of an inspirational story of how this school teacher was able to swing her land acquisition program.
Much of Hawn State Park had been recently burnt, but it wasn’t by some wild forest fire. Instead a controlled burn had been held earlier this year. I don’t know if this explains the lack of fauna that was around, but we saw few birds while in the park. We did see the pictured armadillo, a novel discovery. It was rooting around in the fallen leaves and at first I thought that it was just a squirrel. Today, was a very windy day, but we spent much of the day sheltered in the valley made by Pickle Creek. Our hike began by crossing this creek on a bridge near the parking lot. Outbound, we skirted the canyon clifftops that loom above and surround Pickle Creek. At the turnaround point, we realized that there was not another bridge there. The designated fording point look too tough for us, but other hikers counseled another nearby place to ford. We both made it across, feet-dry. Both legs of this hike were rated tough and they certainly lived up to their reputation. Much of the trail was very rocky, requiring frequent scrambles. After returning to the car, we felt pretty good about ourselves for negotiating these trails and completing the hike unscathed.