Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014 Council Overhang, Ottawa, Kaskaskia and Illinois Canyons

With many of the trails being closed at Starved Rock State Park the Walker's Club schedule has been altered so we can go where the trails are open.  We are taking it one week at a time.  Today was also our annual picnic / potluck. 

We all carpooled to the Ottawa/Kaskaskia/Council Overhang parking lot, right off of route 71, at the east end of the park.  We were patiently waiting for a few more hikers.  We started with 41 hikers and a dog.
41 hikers and a dog

We thought we would go up into Council Overhang 1st and then walk into Ottawa Canyon, and then Kaskaskia.  We first came to the "Boot".  This is a sandstone formation where you need to use your imagination to see the hiking or CCC boot.  There is a lot of greenery in this photo.  It is seen better in the spring or winter. 
The Boot (hiking or CCC style)

Going into Council Overhang
One of our regular walker members (Joe) tells us all about the St. Peter's Sandstone.  I always learn something new.  Sam Sine and his family did programs here years ago.
Council Overhang

Ottawa then Kaskaskia

Our first Canyon today was Ottawa.  I took a photo of the first waterfall of the day.  I was actually surprised that all 3 canyons today had waterfalls.  

I think this is an American Bellflower

This next flower I call a ditch lily.  That is where you see them mostly.  In the ditches along the roadsides.  Also the next photo is of chicory.  You can also see those along the roadsides.
Orange day lily (ditch lily)
On this type of plant in all of the canyons we were in today, these little beads were on some of the leaves.  Someone said they were larvae that was on the leaves and the plant has formed a sealant over the egg which formed a bead.  Not really sure of this.  It sounds good, but I couldn't find anything.

Little beads ???

Kaskaskia Canyon

Coming out of Kaskaskia

Daddy Long Legs Spider

I love this little knotty tree.  We always stop and talk about it when coming out of Ottawa / Kaskaskia Canyons.  Today I decided to take a photo.
Burly/ Knotty Tree
There is a little place right off the parking area at Ottawa /Kaskaskia Canyons.  Call it what you like.... No name Canyon, the Wedding Cove, etc... It is just a neat place.  Easy to get to.  Just a few steps from the parking lot.  Today we had a nice couple from the Lodge join us for our hike.  I took their photo here.

A couple that was staying at the Lodge
Some of us walked directly to Illinois Canyon via the "Swamp Trail" that connects the two parking areas.  And some just moved their cars to the next parking lot.  I took the "Swamp Trail".  It wasn't bad.  A little mud but doable.

Illinois Canyon
Once we actually got on the trail going into Illinois Canyon, we did notice a few trees that fell during the storm on June 30th.  The park staff had come in earlier and cleared the trails here.

Tree down in Illinois Canyon
Part of the group taking a break
I can't say this is my favorite canyon.  But I do like it.  It is a little short when you refer to a waterfall, but it sure is picturesque.  Don't you think?  Today it deserves 2 photos.
Illinois Canyon Waterfall
Illinois Canyon Waterfall

Little Green Frog in Illinois Canyon

Shelf Fungus in Illinois Canyon

Today after our hike we met in Fox Ridge for our Annual picnic/potluck.  Everyone brought something.  I brought the watermelon. I try to be healthy, then I eat the Chocolate Amaretto Pie made my Dawn and the Killer brownies made by Gene.  Good food was had by all.  Thank you to all my Walker Friends for making the picnic great!

Chocolate Amaretto Pie

I will leave you with this: Wherever you may hike or walk, just put one foot in front of the other.  It's all about the experience not the destination.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 10th, Matthiessen State Park

Today's Walker's Club Hike was scheduled to stay here in the park, but unfortunately we had a terrible storm that damaged many of our trails at Starved Rock.  We are hoping to have the trails open soon.  But until then we will work with what we have.  We had 27 hikers and 1 dog.  Saw some great waterfalls and very little mud.  Enjoy the walk!!
Dells Area hike map
Picnic Shelter
 If its your first time to Matthiessen State Park, you have to go walk around in the fort. I did this for the first 10-12 times now I can resist.  Its pretty neat.  Also pictured is the picnic shelter.  The Walker's Club generally has our annual picnic/potluck in July here.  We had to move some hikes around, and now the picnic will be held at Starved Rock in the Fox Ridge area next week after the hike (July 17).  If you plan on coming bring a dish to pass and a table service.

Replica fort
We walked down a major stairway and we were off.  We took a right when we got almost to the bottom.  We are headed to the Lake.
Paths are in good shape

We also saw many summer wildflowers.  I'm not so good at identifying them.  Also saw a ground squirrel that wanted his photo taken.
Ground Squirrel
Small waterfall on the way to the Lake, near Cedar Point area
After we passed the Cedar Point area we came upon a concrete path.  Very pleasant to walk on.
Concrete path

Right when we got to the Lake, I noticed this memory plaque.  I just wonder the story???  I must have walked by this tree many of times and never noticed it.

This following photo is taken from the bridge at the Lake, looking down into the fall.

Falls from the bridge

Taking a break at the Lake
We left the Lake and continued around and went down the stairs to the creek area.  Oh what fun rock hopping can be.
Follow the leader, and watch your step!
Many of the group went into the Lake Falls area, but I stayed back.  I didn't want to risk getting my feet wet. (I still had to work in the office today, and I didn't bring my rubber boots.)
Lake Falls

Giant's Bathtub waterfall
Giant's Bathtub waterfall

Rock Hopping at its best!
Giant's Bathtub
More rock hopping
Raised concrete stepping stones- steady as you go.

Man made waterfall
Almost 1/2 way.  We can see the bridge by Cascade falls.  Next we will go up the stairway and over to the Lower Dells.
Bridge by Cascade Falls
Going up!
Once we arrived at the stairway at the other end going down into the bottom area.  I stood on the bridge and took a photo of what it looks like towards the Vermillion River.  This water comes from Matthiessen Lake and drains into the Vermillion River.  A week ago on July 4th, my family and I went Kayaking and Rafting on the Vermillion River. 

Looking off the bridge towards the Vermillion River
Looking off the bridge toward Cascade Falls
Strawberry Rock, because of its   Shape???  Color??

Wild Hydrangea
Fruit of the Jack in the Pulpit
We hiked back up the main stairway to the Fort area and headed back to the Lodge.  We were back by about 11:00 or so.  Next week is the picnic.  

I like to see nature or park related license plates.  Here is one I saw this week on our parking lot. 

I will leave you with this: Wherever you may hike or walk, just put one foot in front of the other.  It's all about the experience not the destination.