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Cassidy Shearrer

Tips and tricks to making the most of
a Saturday afternoon hike in Columbia

photos by Angelique Hunter

“For me, life wouldn’t be complete without the rich experiences I have had with nature.” – Joanne Fulton

Adam and Janna Gates, with Amelie (daughter) and Lawton (son)
“We love spending time outside as a family.
  Everyone is happy. It provides us with great exercise and relieves stress.  We can never have too much outside time!” – Janna Gates

Smell the Wildflowers: My Favorite Trail in Columbia

by Cassidy Shearrer

As a kid, I occupied myself in the forest playing “Little House on the Prairie” or whatever narrative I was obsessed with at that moment. There was never an urgency or a destination in mind. This is the attitude I try to keep with me on a hike. It’s a mission of discovery.

My favorite local exploration spot is Shooting Star Trail, in the Gans Creek area of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. This trail isn’t as popular as some other Rock Bridge trails, so it’s easy to get lost in that meditative pioneering mood.

The wildlife diversity at Shooting Star brings out my childlike curiosity: I went hiking with a group of friends once and found five different kinds of mushrooms! And at least that many kinds of wildflowers! Here’s a tip: Bring a plant identification guide and learn as you go. It’s surprisingly gratifying to walk the path and say, “Look at that sassafras tree!”

The topography changes pretty quickly on Shooting Star, from overhanging trees on a muddy trail to stunning overlooks to ravines leading down to the creek. It also changes with the seasons. This summer, I sat on a sandbar at the bottom of the hill and threw rocks in the shallow creek with my friend and her son. This fall, the creek had changed borders and was a bit deeper. I love that every season offers a new version of the forest to discover, even winter. Go on one of those unseasonably warm days to admire the frozen creek and hear everything melting.

It can be a bit muddy and doesn’t have the wooden pathways like the Devil’s Icebox trail, so make sure to bring your hiking boots or some old tennis shoes.

Joanne Fulton and Sue Hamilton with dog, Malka
App-venture
Outdoors

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Janna Gates with son Lawton

 

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