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Backpacking with the SaintsWilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice$
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Belden C. Lane

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199927814

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199927814.001.0001

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Discernment: Taum Sauk Mountain and Jelaluddin Rumi

Discernment: Taum Sauk Mountain and Jelaluddin Rumi

12 (p.155) Discernment: Taum Sauk Mountain and Jelaluddin Rumi
Backpacking with the Saints

Belden C. Lane

Oxford University Press

Four hundred million years ago, Taum Sauk Mountain was a high ridge on a solitary island in a vast Paleozoic sea surrounded by coral reefs. Geologists describe it as a landscape of lofty volcanoes. It was one of the few parts of present-day North America that were never submerged under a primordial sea. At 1,772 feet above sea level, Taum Sauk Mountain has been worn down through the ages but is still the highest point in Missouri. It lies on the crest of a mountain chain several times older than the Appalachians. The Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail is one of the most beautiful stretches in the Ozarks. The twelve-and-a-half-mile tract that runs from the blue pools and massive boulders of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park to the top of Taum Sauk Mountain is studded with waterfalls, thick woodlands, rocky glades, and beaver ponds. It is a good place for reflecting on primeval things, gaining a long-range perspective on one’s life, discerning what has gone and what may yet need to come. This is one of the boons of wilderness hiking. Turning onto route CC off Highway 21 in Iron County on a Friday afternoon, I’ve made it to the top of the mountain a few hours before dark. My plan is to hike down the trail below Mina Sauk Falls, spending the night in the woods near Devil’s Tollgate and moving on toward Johnson’s Shut-ins the next day. I’ve come to an intriguing place. In wet weather, the water cascades 132 feet down rock ledges, forming the highest waterfall in the state. Below the falls the trail passes through an eight-foot-wide opening in a thirty-foot-deep section of magma that was part of an ancient volcanic caldera. Hardened now into fine-grained rhyolite, the geological oddity is dubbed the Devil’s Tollgate. A pioneer wagon road once passed between its stone walls, making a convenient site for bandits to hide. The locals claim that Jesse James hid out on the mountain after robbing the Ironton Train in 1874. Until the State Park System built a road to its top in the 1950s, Taum Sauk Mountain was a remote and isolated place.

Keywords:   Buddhism, Jesuits, Love, Mountains, Native Americans, Ozarks, Quakers, Trees, animals

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