This box is the first of a series combining some of my favorite poets with some wild and beautiful natural spots. You don’t have to solve any riddles, just bring your five senses wide open to enjoy the charms of nature and a few lines of poetry. The poems of Mary Oliver are often inspired by nature, so I thought that Three Creeks, an area rich in nature’s bounty, would be a fitting spot for this box. I love to hike here. On the day I hid this box, Goldenrod, Partridge Pea, Blue Lobelia, Mountain Mint, Spanish Needles, False Foxglove, and Cardinal Flower were all in bloom. Bring your children or a friend and share these jewels of nature with them.
DIRECTIONS: From Kansas City or St. Louis, take I-70 to Columbia. Go south on Hwy. 63 for 7.5 miles. Turn right (west) onto Deer Park Road. Drive 2.5 miles on Deer Park Rd. to the Three Creeks C.A. parking lot. Maps are usually available at the trail head.
TRAIL NOTES: You will need to be moderately adventurous to enjoy this hunt. Three Creek Conservation Area is state-owned, not very developed - no water, no latrines. As in all wild areas, poison ivy, stinging nettle, ticks, etc. abound. Wear sensible clothing and bring insect repellent in season. The creeks are frequently bone-dry or shallow, but after rains, they may be ankle-deep or more. Best not to hike the area in periods of heavy rains.
PLEASE be aware before you set out, that this CA is CLOSED to all but hunters several weekends in the fall. In 2006, the hunting dates are Oct. 6 - 9, Oct.28 -29, Nov.11 - 21, Dec. 9 - 17.
BEFORE YOU HUNT FOR THIS BOX: For a little bonus clue, email me with the name of the poet whose lines are quoted in the Heart Of Memories letterbox. Haven’t found that box yet? Heard that it once resided in Cole County and then went missing? It’s alive and well, but its present whereabouts are a bit of a mystery... Also, do a little homework. There may be other treasures hidden at Three Creeks. This is a B.Y.O.I. box. Good ink choices would be yellow, orange and green. A pace equals two steps (right/left). Now for the nitty-gritty.
Enter the trail at the iron gate next to the Cedar Creek Club sign. Hike along the grassy path, first tree-lined,then opening into a meadow for approx. 1/4 mile. There is a fork in the path with a yellow sign prohibiting horseback riding. Take the left fork, a grassy path, heading south. Soon, if you look carefully you will see the remains of an old fence line. Ahead lies the forest. Hike to another fork in a small clearing. Choose the left fork and soon you will pass a spreading oak tree on your left. Hike a bit more and greet another large oak tree on your left. You will shortly begin your descent to the creekbed. The path will become a bit rocky and you’ll see Turkey Creek below to your left. After a longer hike, there will be a clearing with a rocky campfire site on your right. Hike further till you come to another fork in the trail. Go left. Pass another fire ring in the midst of several downed trees on your right. Your descent continues and the path begins to wind north. The creek is at your right. As you walk, you may notice a very old wooden trail marker that once said 8 on the ground. Hike further until you reach the edge of the woods with the creek on your right. Follow the path along the edge of the creek. Pass trail marker “L”. Quite soon you will see a large rocky outcropping on your left and a huge, fallen-away boulder. Pass between the outcropping and the boulder. Stand with the boulder at your right shoulder and face the creek. Look towards “10 o’clock” across the creek, to where the trail resumes, at the bend in the creek. After crossing the creek, continue hiking. You’ll pass marker A at your right. Cross the creek again and continue on the trail, with the creek on your right, sometimes quite nearby. Hike a bit more, watching for a large double-trunked tree off on your left. One of its trunks arches toward and touches the ground just off the edge of the trail. Near the base of this impressive tree, under the arching branch, about 10 paces off the trail, lies a mossy boulder amid a stand of hickory saplings. Look at the base of the boulder on the side nearest the 2-trunk tree for something guarded by stones. (If you come to yet another creek crossing, you have hiked a bit too far.) Enjoy the hike and the hunt. Please replace everything carefully, as you found it. You may return the way you came, or finish the trail loop for about a 2.5 mile hike. Let me know of your adventures by using the Contact Placer link.