aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

The Mark Twain Trail

Life on the Mississippi

We gathered on Wednesday morning, June 3, to set out for our trip to Hannibal, MO. We had three adults: myself (Chaplain Art), Scoutmaster Dean, and committee member Alane. There were seven Boy Scouts: Senior Patrol Leader David, Chaplain's Aide Jordan, ASPL Mitch, Jeffrey, Seth, Marshall, and T.J. We also had one Cub Scout: Harrison (son of Alane and brother of Mitch). I had hoped to leave by 9:00 a.m., but we dragged our feet and didn't get out on the road till almost 10:30. Sic friatur crustum dulce.

It took a bit longer to reach Hannibal than I had thought. We arrived at 5:00 p.m. Central time. We met a fellow who helps oversee the Mark Twain Trail for the local Boy Scouts, and he gave us the latest poop on trail conditions. The Mark Twain Cave Campground is a lovely spot, and we set up camp and got down to the serious business of eating camp chow.

We had truly wonderful food all weekend, BTW. Several old favorites made their appearance (like Beef Manhattans), while Scouts were encouraged to try one or two things they were unfamiliar with (Gyros -- with tzatziki sauce, of course -- and St. David's Trifecta -- a dish made with bacon, asparagus, and leeks). Jeff, one of our picky eaters, discovered how wonderful deviled eggs are.

Click on any pic to enlarge

Soup's on! Soup's on!
Hikers tie into a mess of chili their first night in Hannibal
Playing with Fire Playing with Fire
It's an old story

On the road again

Thursday, June 4, was a beautiful day for a hike. The sky was blue, the weather was bright, but not too hot. Cool breezes were blowing. T.J. was our Hike Leader; Marshall was the mapigator. T.J. had already completed Hiking Merit Badge, but wanted to go on this trip. He set an awesome pace, and was as strong at the end as at the beginning.

The Mark Twain Trail actually consists of three loops. The first loop is from the Campground to the Tom and Huck Statue down by the Hannibal Riverfront. We did half of that in the beginning and half at the end.

We began with a long descent into town, punctuated by a side trip up to Lovers Leap. From there, the whole valley and the town of Hannibal were spread out below us. The lighthouse on the hill above Hannibal is to guide boats and barges on the river below.

A beautiful day for a hike
Start of the Mark Twain Trail
A beautiful day for a hike
Lovers Leap
Overlooking the Mississippi
Lovers Leap
View from Lovers Leap
Note Lighthouse in the distance
View from Lovers Leap
Catalpa in bloom
Old part of Hannibal
Catalpa in bloom
Tom & Huck
The trail revolves around this monument
Tom & Huck

Keepin' on keepin' on

The second loop begins at the Tom and Huck Statue and goes up a whole mess of steps to the lighthouse at the top of the hill. It then winds around town to an old cemetery, and then back down the hill to the Statue. Everyone agreed that the steps were the toughest part of the whole ten mile hike.

The third loop goes from the Tom and Huck Statue past the site of the Jail where Muff Potter was imprisoned, awaiting trial for murder (in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer). We headed out of town, under the interstate bridge and up the hill to Riverview Park. We ate lunch there.

The trail then wound around the top of the bluffs. There were several places to gaze out over the river. When we were finishing this loop, two police cars drove up and asked us if we had seen a little boy who had been reported missing. We had not. As soon as the policemen left us to continue their search, we all paused to pray for the boy and his family and those who were looking for him.

Once we were back in town, we limped on up the hill out of town and back to our campsite, where we proceeded to eat some more. After resting and letting our supper settle, we got out the cheese and meat and crackers and had a crackerbarrel (snacks) to finish off the evening.

It took us right at eight hours to do the whole ten miles. We all agreed the day had been well spent, despite some sunburn and a few hotspots.

Feel the burn Feel the burn
There are 245 steps from street level to the lighthouse
Rest stop Rest stop
Seth and Harrison in old Baptist Cemetery, Hannibal, MO
World's Shortest Mile World's Shortest Mile
Compare the sign on the right with the sign on the left
Mark Twain Mark Twain
Memorial statue in Riverfront Park
Enjoying the View Enjoying the View
Overlook at Twain statue

In the Deep Places of the Earth

Friday morning, we had a leisurely breakfast, and then rounded up the Scouts and presented ourselves for a tour of the Mark Twain Cave.

The cave was discovered in 1819. It was a place of fascination for the young Sam Clemens in the 1840s. Twain (Clemens) set several adventures of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher in the cave, and the places they explore are all real locations in the cave. We had a great tour of the cave, then headed for the gift shop.

After lunch, we went into Hannibal to tour the Mark Twain Museum and other historic places in town, as well as do a little touring and shopping. It was, overall, a light day we set for ourselves between our hike and our trip to St. Louis.

The Cave
Original "Discovery" Entrance on upper left; 1890 Entrance (where tour starts) on lower right
The Cave
Mark Twain Cave
Mark Twain Cave
Words fail me
Jordan has bats in his belfry
Words fail me
Hil-ho, Thunder!
David's moving fast, but not really getting anywhere
Hil-ho, Thunder!

Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie

We were up early Saturday. The morning air felt fat and damp. We made a quick breakfast, dropped tents, and made our escape before we could get rained on. Mid-morning found us in St. Louis at the Gateway Arch.

We had an hour to tour the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the exhibits and the gift shops. Then we took our tram ride to the top of the Arch, 630' above the river.

We left St. Louis and headed over the river to Illinois, looking for lunch. We found a Steak 'n' Shake, which served nicely. Then, we buckled down and headed for home. We were back at the church by 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.

More steps More steps
Scouts at the Gateway Arch
Don't look behind you! Don't look behind you!
Marshall is surprised in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Ooh, ah, oh Ooh, ah, oh
Jeffrey, Seth, Harrison gazing out a window in the Arch

Thanks for the memories

All in all, it was a great trip. We had fun, we got to do lots of different activities, and we ate amazing food. (We came in under budget, too: I've still got the touch!) We made important literary and historical connections. Several boys tried new things, completed advancement requirements, or had Scoutmaster conferences. There were patches and Stücknageln and other souvenirs. And so, we're done -- until next time.

Gateway Arch souvenir photo


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