Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Old Trip

Some years ago Carole and I decided that we wanted to explore some other freshwater springs in North America separate from the ones in Florida. We had read a lot about the springs mainly in Missouri, which included what is considered the highest volume freshwater spring in North America (Big Springs). So, we did our research and reserved our campsites and headed Midwest to visit them.

One huge misconception we had going in was that these would be similar to Florida springs as far as access is concerned. We figured we'd be able to swim in the springs and paddle around in them in our canoe and generally get as up-close with them as we had with the springs in Florida.


Mainly, no one is allowed to swim in these huge springs. You are allowed to use kayaks and canoes, but not in the main head springs. Only in spots downstream from the main body of the springs.

This proved to be a huge bummer.

Also, we knew the weather would be hot (it was August), but we'd never really considered how hellishly hot it gets in Missouri. I must have forgotten my Mark Twain stories! We hit a really bad spot of particularly nasty weather with temperatures in the high 90s and humidity levels in similar numbers. There were days that were pretty freaking miserable.

We had chosen to use one National Park campground and to do all of our exploring by road in our truck. This meant a fair amount of driving to hit all of the springs we had on our list. We managed to see them all, which was a plus, but the access to them was nothing like we were accustomed to getting at the springs in Florida.

Another big disappointment was the lack of wildlife. We didn't see anything at all out of the ordinary. Groundhogs. White-tailed deer. Mallard ducks. That sort of thing.

The one critter who did stand out was a baby muskrat we saw at Mammoth Springs. That spring is aptly named and once was used to generate a fair amount of electricity via a turbine that the volume of water ran until relatively recently. That little ball of fluff paid us almost no mind at all and just sat there in the spring eating greens and swimming about in little circles.

So, here's to one baby animal who made the trip a little more memorable.

A cute ball of waterproofed fluff.

He just sat and ate and ignored us.

Mammoth Springs is indeed enormous. In Arkansas, this was the only spring we explored outside of Missouri.

A dam which made the pool which allowed power to be produced.
Carole examines one of the now decommissioned turbines.

Greer Spring. By far the most beautiful of the big springs we visited on that trip.

The run below the spring head. The water was crystal pure. This spot reminded me a lot of the mountain streams here in North Carolina. Down here in this little limestone gorge the temperature was extremely cool and comfortable.

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