On Sunday, April 14, we had our first Photo Hike on the LOVIt trail in an effort to develop a bank of trail pictures for the Master Gardener 2013 Calendar.
We rallied at the parking lot of the Joplin Methodist Church at 1:30 pm. We had an even dozen hardy hikers join us for the 2.8 mile, 2 1/2 hour hike through the hollows and hills of the trail that stretches from Mountain Harbor Road to Shangri-La Road. The spring bloom is reaching its peak with the smiling faces of the Dogwoods greeting us at every turn. The wildflowers were blooming where they receive more sunlight, but in the hollows, they were just before bloom. This portion of the LOViT Trail has many interesting features which we took time investigate and photograph.
We broke into two groups – the “Hares” and the “Tortoises” – to accommodate all skill levels of hiking. We immediately hiked into the area known as “Tom’s Twist,” a winding, switchbacking trail that drops into a cool tree shaded ravine lined with hundreds of Fiddlehead Ferns who were showing off their new heads and leafy stalks. We stopped a few minutes to explore the old homestead site that now only consists of a moss covered pile of chimney stones, the remains of a root cellar, and the old pipe well..
We then followed the trail along Spring Creek as it winds its way to empty into Lake Ouachita. As we hiked out of this deep hollow we came upon the “Twin Towers,” two towering 400 year old Short Leaf Pines perched on the uphill side of the hollow. Placing your camera on the three foot thick trunk and pointing up into its crown over 100 feet above provides a great photo of a tree that sprouted when Jamestown was being established. How did the early loggers miss these two giants?
Further on, we crossed Spring Creek Bridge where there are three springs providing water all year long, even in the driest of times. We spotted a small king snake easing along the edge of the spring pool.
We took a break at the “Cattle Dip” Bridge. This unique rock formation on Spring Sreek is one of three such structures found around Lake Ouachita. History says theses narrow rock crevasses where used to run livestock through while homesteaders swabbed them to eliminate the stunting effect of tick infestations. Finally we hiked through an area dubbed the “Rock Garden,” where the trail is lined with large white quartz boulders.
It was perfect weather for a spring hike, and many early spring photos were taken by everyone attending. We will be offering additional hikes as the season develops.