A Fall Visit to Mina Sauk Falls


Last Thursday, I decided to take a late-fall trip to Mina Sauk Falls after my friend Brenda spotted some collared lizards sunning on the rocks the previous Sunday. I knew it was a crap shoot because it was rainy and cold leading up to my departure on Thursday, but I figured if the fair-weather lizards didn’t show their faces the falls might still be worth a look.

It was still dark when I began the mile and a half walk, all downhill, to the falls. I always love walking in the morning twilight to photograph a spring or a waterfall because you can really appreciate the sound of the water as you approach your destination. It’s almost scary as the roar becomes louder and louder with no visual cues to ground your nervous system. When I finally arrived, I was pleased to see Mina Sauk Falls cascading briskly down the 132-foot-tall wall of pinkish, lichen-covered rock. As a bonus, the surrounding fall color was just beginning to show itself in the morning light. Nice!

I knew it would be hours before the collared lizards might reveal themselves so I began my usual Billy goat scramble to the bottom of the falls for some photographs. I made my way down the south side to the base of the falls. I’d been down there several times before and I was reminded of how magical it was. I kept watching for Yoda to poke his head up from behind a moss-covered log and wink at me. Eventually, I worked my way back up the north side, stopping for plenty of shots along the way. The opening image of this edition features the main section of the falls, shot from the south side.

I spent the entire morning wandering around the falls, trying to catch the rocks and water in different light conditions as I waited for the afternoon sun to warm the lizard rocks on the glade above the falls. Finally, around noon, the bright sun was feeling mighty nice, at least to me, but an inspection revealed no collared lizards. After another hour, I finally gave up my search for lizards but I did spot some cute little spiders that my friend James Trager later identified as fishing spiders. Their name is appropriate because they seemed as comfortable in water as on dry rock. I bet they were happy to be free of collared lizards for the day, as well.


On the way up the trail, I stopped at what I call the “Upper Falls” which is a smaller waterfall upstream from Mina Sauk Falls. I captured a few images before I managed to drop my camera and watch it clatter across the rock before it finally landed in a pool of water. Later, I was shocked to find it in working order, yet again, after another mishap at the hands of yours truly. As I’ve said before, even though the price of professional cameras is absurd, I have to admit that I’m amazed at the abuse they can withstand.

DJB_MSF_2013_1150Upper Falls at Mina Sauk (Taum Sauk State Park)

I never saw a collared lizard on my trip to Mina Sauk Falls but I’ve decided to share a nice image of one anyway, compliments of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma.

DJB_WMR_2012_0438Collared Lizard from Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma

The Missouri versions better not rest on their lizardian laurels because I’ll be back next spring with my rock-beaten Mark IV in hand.

Thanks for looking,


8 comments on “A Fall Visit to Mina Sauk Falls”

  1. Oh, I thought I was the only Dropper-Of-Cameras around….oh yes, they do stand a lot of bad treatment..and thank you, once again, for some lovely pics 😀 I don’t know when we might meet again (we managed to meet only once in 9 months of my staying in STL!)…but you and Joyce are often in my thoughts!

  2. The falls and beautiful but I see why you wanted to add the lizard to your collection. Next time …

  3. Glad you were able to get to Mina Sauk, Danny. Sorry you didn’t see any of the Eastern Collard Lizards. I guess it was beginner’s luck for Brad and me. Great pics and so glad your camera made it through the “Fall” at Mina Sauk.

  4. I loved your story, and shots of Mina Sauk Falls. You have the best job in world, to be able to get to these magical places. Thanks for always sharing your work. By the way, the Collared Lizard has quite a stellar look about himself. Have a good weekend. Kick off into Deer season tomorrow. I could have bag a 12 pointer in my backyard this morning. I got him with my phone camera instead.


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