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Slot Rock
May 4, 2008
By noon on the second day of my Spring vacation I was itching to get out and see some waterfalls. I had been spending too much time that weekend at the computer or reading guidebooks researching possible hiking trips. I knew there hadn't been enough recent rainfall to get most waterfalls going, but perhaps one of the small creeks had a waterfall on it. That train of thought lead me to Slot Rock on the Ozark Highlands Trail.
Cliff was up for joining me on the spontaneous hiking trip. We got quite a late start, not leaving the house until nearly 4 o'clock.The drive was around one hour and forty minutes.
We set out on the trail under a sunny sky and temperatures in the mid 70s. We stopped after a mile-and-a-half at Bear Skull Falls. Only a trickle of water fell off the 22-foot bluff at the falls, but we were still very impressed with the little scenic area. The shale bluff rose beyond the falls to a height I estimate to be 80 feet. A canopy of huge Umbrella  Magnolia leaves imparted a tropical feel. The air was heavy with the sweet perfume of wild azaleas, though we only saw the pink flowers when we reached Slot Rock .7 miles down the trail.
There was water running in the slot, but none over the rest of the rock spanning the creek. It could be pretty cool if the water level was just right, because there are several other channels worn into the rock, which would make for a double or even triple falls. We saw Shooting Stars growing on the bank, and lots of Wood Betony plants - though I think they had already bloomed. Slot Rock is also an obvious swimming hole for the locals. There was a four-wheeler road going right to it, and there was a rope across the rock bank on one side for folks to use in getting out of the pool. But it wasn't trashy at all and I don't think it gets a lot of traffic.
Cliff and I only explored the area about 30 minutes. It was 7:45 before we started the hike back, and darkness overtook us halfway. I had flashlights for both of us, but Cliff was still skittish about being in the dark.
Even though the trail is blazed with reflective markers, we lost it for a few minutes at a spot where it makes a sharp right turn as it crosses a small drainage. We made ever-widening circles until our flashlights hit a marker. Cliff’s version of the story is that “we got lost”, while I told Mom I knew exactly where we were!
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