by Dr. Patrick Vaughn, Acting President, STLCC-Wildwood
In the past I have shared photos on Facebook and by email of some rarely visited parts of our 132 acre campus. This week I thought I would share some images of what lies beyond campus. It was a cool weekend day in November when I decided to see if, in fact, I could hike from the St. Louis Community College – Wildwood Campus Trail to the Lime Kiln Trail on Rockwoods Reservation. My fifteen year old retriever, Gracie, expects a hike every weekend, and I am eager to increase my weekly steps for “Team X” of the Wildwood Walking Challenge, and of course, for my own health.
My exploration of the trails created by the Missouri Department of Conservation, St. Charles County Parks Department and St. Louis County Parks Department are well documented on my Facebook page, but this hike holds more promise than the rest. I developed a proposal this summer with Ranger Gus Raeker, the District Forester of the St. Louis Region, to connect the trails between Rockwoods Reservation and our campus. Gracie and I followed the path of the proposed trail, and the changing leaves and crisp fall air added an ambiance to the trail that I had not yet experienced. The proposal is now in the hands of the state’s central office of the Missouri Department of Conservation for consideration.
Besides proving that the hike is possible, Gracie and I discovered many unique things on the way. Deer are plentiful in the uninhabited parts of the campus and in Rockwoods Reservation. An eight (or more) point buck raced passed us as we entered the forest. The descent into a huge ravine that, to the south, becomes the base for Christy Avenue, is lined with giant stone formations; one that I nicknamed “twin rocks” looks like book-ends that in this case are holding a single tree in place. Along the way a turtle peeked out of its shell at the clumsy passers-by, and a knob on a tree looked surprisingly like a Moose.
Returning to campus the beautiful glow of fall colors lit up yet another valley full of cross-timbers, golden leaves, and sky-blue reflected off the bark of trees.
There are two local outdoor treasures located next to each other in this part of “West County:” Rockwoods Reservation and the St. Louis Community College – Wildwood campus. Here’s hoping we all have an opportunity to enjoy them fully.