Discover Missouri's outdoor wonders - and share a few with us Make Columbia one of your stops this summer By John J. Winkelman, Correspondent
Summer is here, and everyone should do themselves a favor: promise yourself your will discover some place new.Missouri is filled with outstanding natural and historic sites that are that are worth both the time and the effort. And, absolutely, the price is right. You can easily come up with a long list of sites that are free, or at least a lot cheaper than the gas it will cost to get you there.
Rock Bridge isn't a cave; it's a natural tunnel. Since they closed the trail from the other side (rocks fell off the wall, and lawyers discovered that gravity happens) and like many caves, the bridge is formed along a rock joint, people decided not to fight city hall, especially since some engineer of their choice said that the rock strata (limestone with chert nodules) was naturally unsafe and spalled off under weathering conditions. They've got enough problems keeping the Icebox open to cave trips, since the entire reason for the park was to protect the cave after a couple of drownings there (and to memorialize a dead child, which had nothing to do with the cave. ) No clue why lawyers for a department of natural resources don't understand the legal liability exclusion phrases " natural features", or "Acts of God" but they don't seem to.
Basically the cool thing about the boardwalk which John sort of told you is that you start at the wide side valley entrance, and go uphill, starting where the Icebox cave stream enters the local creek, go to the Rock Bridge tunnel, then up past the Connors' Cave entrance, the incipient sinks, and to the Icebox sink near the head of the valley, which sort of saddles out above the Cave.
The Icebox is closed in the summer for gray bats, in the winter as a hibernaculum, (it is a cold trap) and open to trips only on the shoulders of those seasons. "Conner's Spring" is actually Conner's Cave-- a relatively nasty chert-crawl laden cavity. There are also a couple of breathing sinks along the boardwalk-- the kind cavers with no sense like to crawl into and jump up and down upon.
What he didn't tell you (John is a hunting/fishing sort of guy) is that one of my mentors, Dr. Tom Freeman (emeritus) from MU did a karst geology field guide to the Rock Bridge/Icebox terrane, and that for many many years, every person so fortunate to take Geo 101 at Mizzou has been there as their local geo field trip....and every geo 101 TA practically can still give the spiel from the handout. When you take 4 classes over the same route in the same day....it's like being a show cave guide!
Another neat thing for the bio people out there: The Icebox, and the cave stream are home to troglobitic pink planarians, a flatworm species endemic to the park. They are only vaguely pink-- look like little bits of white mucus on the undersides of rocks, actually, but I know they get some invert people really excited.
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is fast becoming a green island as Columbia encroaches for all sides. This causes urban environmental headaches...the city of Columbia is relatively enlightened for the Midwest, but they want their sinkholes and to build on them too...eeech.
Last Edit: May 28, 2008 20:31:37 GMT -5 by Azurerana