The Irish Wilderness in Missouri is one of the larger wilderness area's in the state. The region also has a fascinating history. With the unexplained disappearance of Irish settlers during the Civil War and the deep hollows, it has a mysterious feel even in broad daylight.

But mostly, the Irish is just pretty, especially along the Eleven Point and near two prominent springs. There's something about being lulled to sleep by a babbling brook and whippoorwills that is literally priceless.

The second night wasn't entirely quiet. A massive spring thunderstorm startled me from sleep in the middle of the night. Everything was deathly still except for the rumble of thunder drawing steadily nearer. Lightning flashed almost constantly in the dark.

Finally I heard a roaring, crashing noise coming up the valley. It became so loud I thought of squall lines and tornadoes—and still it became louder.

Then it hit, a torrential downpour striking millions of leaves and rocks, magnified in the perfectly still wilderness. I have to admit, that's something I'd never heard before.

Even in the initial uplands, the Irish Wilderness has things worth seeing. (All images open larger in separate window)

White's Creek Trail (named after the area's primary stream) takes you from the high, rolling plateau down to the Eleven Point. One of the real jewels of route is Bliss Spring, where the cold water forms a year-round habitat for water cress and, down stream, is now the scene of a beaver dam, or two.

Near Bliss Spring, the trail passes near the Eleven Point at several spots. It's definitely worth a detour to see the spring-feed river and the unique area around it.

The trail eventual leaves the Eleven Point and climbs back to the top of a ridge line, passing Whites Creek Cave on the way up. Then the trail descends back down where I found another spring, Fiddler. It's possible this water source was named for someone wasting time, but I prefer to think it was a musician.

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