Thursday, May 15, 2014

The prairie's Lost Lake

The volcanic walls above Lost Lake near Shonkin.
I'm ashamed that for as long as I've lived here (and it's been a long time), I hadn't been to Lost Lake near Shonkin until last weekend.
Maybe it is because it is so hard to find.  Maybe because I hadn't looked hard enough.
Mark Hertenstein, who hadn't been there in more than 15 years guided me from his (faulty) memory and I filled in with help from a GPS I had handy.
This is a spectacular volcanic spot, a remnant of what appears to be a waterfall where the Missouri River had once flowed before its channel was moved by glacial and geologic forces.
Volcanic walls rise several hundred feet above the former floor of the river where there's now a good sized lake.
On the prairie leading to these walls are lava formations that reminded me of the Craters of the Moon in Idaho, but more twisted.
Thankfully, the private landowner graciously grants access to this beautiful prairie spot, reminding hikers that they enter at their own risk.  Aside from the steep walls, the most present risk would probably be rattlers in warmer weather.
The best way to get to this spot is to drive to the town of Highwood, continue on the good gravel road and start searching for the small community of Shonkin.  Beyond Shonkin, look for a "Lost Lake," small, white sign post.  You'll know you're there when you see the rock outcrops.
I could have spent a day prowling these rock formations.
The best time is to go now before the snakes emerge.

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