True friends are very hard to come by; sometimes, we can go years or forever without a true friend. So what is a true friend? In a nutshell, they are the people who stand by your side through thick and thin. They are the people you go to when you are in need, and they are the people who come to you when they are in need. They tolerate your opinions, they find the good in your faults, and they offer you words of encouragement to keep you positive no matter what life throws your way. Yup, that's a friend.
Recently we met up with two-lifetime friends and took them on a hike to Ball Mill Resurgence Conservation area near Perryville. I know what you're thinking; what the heck is Ball Mill Resurgence? Exactly. Meet Jessica Behrle and Alaina Feldmeier and Ball Mill Resurgence.
...a karst formation (a landscape where the dissolving of the bedrock has created a sinkhole, a sinking stream, a cave, or springs)...
Ball Mill Resurgence, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, is a karst formation (a landscape where the dissolving of the bedrock has created a sinkhole, a sinking stream, a cave, or springs) wherein a sinkhole that ordinarily drains water into an underground stream system will back up after heavy rain – as a storm sewer will.
Inside the sinkhole, when the water is roiling, rocks are tumbled around and somewhat polished. Hence the name "ball mill"
In the case of Ball Mill Resurgence, it is a basin 20 feet in diameter, which is five feet deep on the downstream end but has a 50-foot wall of limestone rock on the other side. During heavy rains, water backs up in this sinkhole and will even overflow into the nearby Blue Spring Branch.
This 573 Magazine story is brought to you by The City of Perryville, Missouri!
Inside the sinkhole, when the water is roiling, rocks are tumbled around and somewhat polished. Hence the name "ball mill" for this resurgence. This natural area is part of the larger cave network found in Perry County – the county in Missouri with the highest density of caves. The underground drainage system and calcareous bedrock of Perry County are akin to a block of Swiss cheese with water moving in very complex drainage patterns.
Ball Mill is located on the northern edge of the Missouri ecoregion known as Perry County Karst.
Ball Mill is located on the northern edge of the Missouri ecoregion known as Perry County Karst. This unusual landscape extends for at least 25 miles through Perry County, from the southern edge of Ste. Genevieve County south into Cape Girardeau County and includes thousands of sinkholes, sinkhole ponds, losing streams, springs, caves, and resurgences.
This natural area is owned by the L-A-D Foundation, which is dedicated to sustainable forest management and protection of exemplary natural and cultural areas in Missouri. The L-A-D Foundation's 19.7-acre Ball Mill Resurgence was acquired from two adjacent landowners by Leo Drey and donated to the foundation in 1978. It was designated as a Missouri Natural Area in 1979. To date, the L-A-D Foundation has acquired 368 acres in two separate units and donated its lease of these lands to the Missouri Department of Conservation for management as Blue Spring Branch Conservation Area.
My name is Jessica Behrle, and I am one of four children. My three brothers and I grew up playing and fishing in the creeks near our house. Some of our adventures included creating race tracks for our toy cars in the garden and pretending to be "ninjas" with amazing martial art abilities; while building our own imaginary world and "slaying monsters" in the woods. Catching "fireflies" and sitting out on the front porch with mom during the summer nights. Pointing out the various constellations was an all-time favorite pass-times.
My family's main focus is working hard and providing for their families. I have been gifted the title of "aunt" to a total of 7 nieces and nephews, with another on the way, all of whom I love spending time with when opportunities are presented. Whether it's playing in imaginary worlds, singing, dancing, hunting, or eating ice cream—I treasure the memories we create together. I love writing and taking photographs, kayaking, fishing, and anything that involves the great outdoors and adventures (except snakes, spiders and wasps; nature can keep those)! My family has helped me become the strong, independent, hardworking, and compassionate woman I feel I am.
I am the Assistant Director with a non-profit organization called the Perry County Community Task Force, which focuses on working with youth and their families to build stronger relationships and works to assist individuals in becoming the best they can be by offering a variety of programs. The programs provide free services aimed at substance abuse prevention, education, and mentoring and also offers free activities for all families and schools in Perry County. I love the work that I do, and it is an extremely rewarding job that I have been dedicated to for the past 13 years.
From the vibrant fall colors to the sound of the leaves crunching beneath our feet, it was breathtaking to see the way the light came through the trees and touched the earth
My friendship with Alaina began over 20 years ago. We were two years apart in school and became friends through color guard in marching band and teammates playing high school soccer. From practices, competitions, and bus rides to the games, our friendship grew, and we found ourselves hanging out in the evenings and at night by taking long bike rides, or country road drives down to the river where we would laugh about life, cry and talk about boys, share our fears, hopes and dreams. We loved junk food, music, and a sense of freedom.
...we have always been able to catch right back up where we left off without missing a beat.
Although there were times that we went years without seeing one another due to shifts and changes in our lives and families, we have always been able to catch right back up where we left off without missing a beat. Whether it is hikes, bike rides, car rides, washer and badminton tournaments, or just sitting by the lake talking for hours, we always enjoy the time that we have together to listen to and support one another with all that life throws our way.
Trails are natural playgrounds. It brings out your inner child...
There is nothing I love more than being in the great outdoors! Being able to hike the trail at Ball Mill on a beautiful fall day brought so much joy to my soul. From the vibrant fall colors to the sound of the leaves crunching beneath our feet, it was breathtaking to see the way the light came through the trees and touched the earth and the way the colors of the trees reflected a painted canvas upon the water. I watched in awe as the leaves gently fell like feathers to the ground, and I allowed my lungs a deep breath of the fresh, crisp air that brings change and new beginnings. Trails are natural playgrounds. It brings out your inner child, allowing you to play in the leaves once again while being able to run across and do balancing acts on fallen trees, or it allows you to create masterpieces and artwork with your imagination.
My heart and soul truly needed it that day.
My name is Alaina (Ernst) Feldmeier. I was born and raised here in Perryville. I am a pediatric occupational therapist and work with children with a variety of unique needs. I have been married to my best friend and husband for 11 years. We have two very active boys, ages eight and six, who love all things sports related. When I'm not running my boys around to their sporting activities, I enjoy going for a run, working out, reading, playing with our puppy Phoebe, and baking.
She has such a kind and caring heart. My boys always smile when I mention "Ms. Jessica," and I know they love her, too. :)
Jessica and I have been friends for a long time since high school, or maybe even earlier than that. I remember connecting a lot with her during band class, where we were both on the color guard team, as well as during our time together on our school soccer team. We both share a love for soccer, bike riding, and being outdoors in nature. Jessica is the friend I can have deep conversations with without judgment. She has such a kind and caring heart. My boys always smile when I mention "Ms. Jessica," and I know they love her, too. :) In high school, Jess and I would bike ride or drive around town for hours and just talk. Some of the best times were at night when the town was quiet, and we rode under the moonlight and stars. Now, as adults, we still enjoy being outdoors in nature together and having good conversations.
The leaves were all shades of gorgeous fall colors, and the temperature outside was perfect.
Jessica and I love to hike, go for walks or boat rides, and do really anything outdoors. We had such a beautiful fall evening for our hike around Ball Mill. The leaves were all shades of gorgeous fall colors, and the temperature outside was perfect. With how dry the weather has been, we were able to see into the sinkhole and really picture what happens during the resurgence. My favorite part about our hike was stacking the rocks and decorating them with leaves. I felt like a kid again!
Directions: From Interstate 55 south to Highway 51, turn east into Perryville to Highway 61, turn north on Highway 61 and go about one-half mile to Route V and turn east, go 2.8 miles to a fork in the road. Take the east fork onto Perry County Route 916. It is about a mile to the Ball Mill Resurgence parking area and the Shafer Tract on the side of the road. Blue Spring Branch Conservation Area lies between Perry County Route 914 on the west and Perry County Route 916 on the east.
For more information about Ball Mill Resurgence Natural Area, see https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/natural-areas/ball-mill-resurgence, and for more information about Blue Spring Branch Conservation Area, click https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/blue-spring-branch-ca.
Alright, you know what to do.
GET OUT THERE!
pics and words t. smugala
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