Highpointing: Taum Sauk Mountain, Missouri

Taum Sauk Mountain’s summit is one of the easy highpoints to attain. A short stroll through the woods on a blacktop trail and you are there. It is not much of a challenge, and there is no scenic vista to be had when you reach it. (There is an observation platform not too distant from the parking lot.) The weather did do it’s best to make it interesting. The morning when we arrived there was a layer of fog that gave the summit a more ethereal, otherworldly effect.

The challenge with summits that don’t necessarily have any physical difficulty or decent view is to find something else compelling about them. For Taum Sauk Mountain that something is Mina Sauk Falls, the highest waterfall in the state of Missouri. It lies a mile and half down the side of the mountain. Even better it has a cool legend behind it. My plan was to showcase the falls and its legend along with the highpoint.

There would be several hiccups to this plan. The first is Mina Sauk Falls is wet weather dependent. Having visited the falls two years prior, I knew going into this shoot that success depended on ample rainfall. The problem was this area of Missouri was having a dry summer. Fortunately, the area had received a bit of rain a few days before the shoot; unfortunately it wasn’t as much as I hoped. Brian, whom I had recruited to help shoot this episode, was more dismayed than I at the trickle of water. I was grateful there was any water at all.

The other hiccup was I was never able to find any imagery of the legend of Mina Sauk. What you see in the episode is me talking a lot when in my mind half of that would have been a cut to voice over and cool image of the legend.

The falls wasn’t the easiest place to shoot. There were more people than we expected, close to fifteen already when we arrived. Brian and I had to get creative in cutting them out of frame. The other part is you don’t really get any perspective of the size of the falls. Where I am standing is only a third of the way down. It deserved more time than we were able to give it. It is a beautiful falls but make sure to go after several raining days.

Rain was a minor challenge during the shoot. It sprinkled throughout the morning but wasn’t too problematic until the final shot when it decided to pick up. (After this shoot I would order a rainsleeve for the Nikon that proved its worth a few months later.)

The hike back up Taum Sauk Mountain to the parking area winded me more than it had any right to. It made me realize my Arizona trip scheduled for the following next month was going to require some solid training to get prepared for it.

The music for this episode is entitled, “For Originz” by Kevin MacLeod, incompetech.com. It was originally going to be a different piece, but the mist and the feel of the mountain that day made me change it. I used the music a bit more sparsely in this episode than others.

I’ve included photos in the gallery from a previous visit to show what Mina Sauk Falls looks like with water.


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