Thursday, August 8, 2019

Forty-odd 😉 Starved Rock Walkers drove to the River Area of Matthiessen State Park for a humid, bug spray scented, walk in the Park. The bug spray was not needed but the water bottles were much appreciated.

 Gearing up in the parking lot. 
 There is a short walk across the prairie...
 … before the trail narrows and dives into the "green tunnel" woods.
 Most trails in this Park are multiple use; hikers, mountain bikers, and horses. We didn't see any of the other users today.
 With the trail mud all dried we didn't expect to see any waterfalls but we found one on this 1-foot tall step down!
 We didn't expect any fish either, but that bottom shadow in the center is not under a tadpole!
 We kept walking on an off an old mine tailing. Walk around the block if you want level trails.
 Limestone was quarried here over 100-years ago.
 Few walkers under age 40 need a walking stick. Many hikers over age 50 appreciate the stability of becoming a tripod. 
 This UFO suspended in the understory is the work of a busy orb weaver.
 The bottom of the Vermilion River Valley marked the halfway point. That means it is all uphill from here!
 The LaSalle Limestone bedrock sensed a sudden overshadowing!
 Like everyone else, even the photographer survived the climb out of the river valley.
It is always a relief to break out of the woods close to the same place we started!

Here is a good quote from Paul Scott Mowrer concerning "Multiple use" trails:

"There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast."

Thursday, August 1, 2019

45 SR Walkers enjoyed the first day of the last full month of summer by walking the East Bluff Trail from the Hennepin parking lot out to Owl Canyon and back. A perfect August morning for a walk in the Park!

Here is a close look at Chicory, all those blue roadside weed dots you are currently speeding past.  Stop, look, and enjoy their celebration of summer!

SR Walkers gathering at the Hennepin parking lot.

Crossing Rt. 71 and plunging into the green tunnel.

 True Queen Anne's Lace always has that one centered purple blossom.

 When seed production is complete the Lace begins to close...

...into a nice basket!

 Purple Sweet Clover is just beginning to celebrate August.

 It is nice when the trail reminds you it is indeed a glorious morning!

 This is exactly what you want to see on a Milkweed!

 Since all Park trails are now under the green tunnel no sunscreen is needed. Oddly enough, no insect repellent was needed either!

 These Walkers pause on the south rim...

 … to look for the headwall down there in Hidden Canyon.
This is why we say the East Bluff Trail is only MOSTLY level!

 Walkers on a mud-free trail descent across a dry Owl Creek.

 It is the pileated woodpecker that leaves these oval shaped tree borings.
 A trail view of the Rt. 71 bridge across upper Hennepin Canyon.

 A trail section along the east rim of Hennepin Canyon.

 A trail bridge view up a rapidly drying Hennepin Creek.

A perfect day for this quote from Jamie Luner,

"Hiking is the best workout!...You can hike for two hours and not even realize you are working out."

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It might be that only twenty-five SR Walkers remembered that Thursday's walk was happening on Wednesday this week. It was a humid pre-holiday walk out to Eagle Cliff and back.
 Most walkers took on an extra drink of water as we left the Lodge.
 Everyone enjoys the gravity assist that comes with going down the 150 metal stairs that separate the Lodge from the Visitors Center.
 All Park trails will be under the "green tunnel" until October.
 The narrow waterfilled opening into French Canyon forces all groups into a single file.
 Leaving the canyon is always trickier than climbing into it. Last night's inch+ rainfall made it even more interesting! 
A pause in the shaded parts of Lovers Leap is always refreshing...
...and this overlook always gives the best view of the Hungry Butte, now covered in Summer green.  
 An Eagle Cliff view of the SR dam shows that only tainter gate #3 is in "none shall pass" mode. The nine other gates are raised at least six feet to allow the latest large rainfall to move downstream.
 When the Bluff Trail bends around the rim of French Canyon the Lodge is very near. 
French Creek is also in a hurry to get out into the river.
A view of French Creek disappearing down the fall into lower French Canyon.

Yes, the SR Walkers always end up right where they started.

As Robert Louis Stevenson said,

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go."

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Forty-seven SR Walkers Club members did the best hike in the Park today by trekking out to LaSalle Canyon and back. June finally turned the rain off for a while, but a huge bucket of humidity was dumped on the Walkers today.
 The first climb out of French Canyon onto the Campanula boardwalk.
 The group arrived at the boardwalk around the rim of Wildcat Canyon looking very unwilted.
 No worries, the East Rim Overlook has a capacity of 20 hikers. A number I just made up.
 The overlook view down the canyon's headwall waterfall.
 At 9:20AM there were no "ants" to be seen 95-feet down on the floor of Wildcat Canyon.
 The Walkers used the well-packed edges of the muddy East Bluff Trail all the way out to Sandstone Point.
 The East Bluff Trail on the headwall of Basswood Canyon is one of the muddiest sections. Bypass trails that formed increasing higher on the headwall are abandoned as the mud dries.  
 The group occupies the shade at the back of Sandstone Point to listen to some guy expound on the characteristics of the unusually round St. Peter sand grains.
 Now that the rainwater has mostly run off, the iron-stained groundwater is all that is meandering down "no name" creek.
 The LaSalle Canyon waterfall is the turnaround point for the now quite wilted group.

 This long log has been snagged near the south shore of the river for years,....

...but only had one sunbather on it this morning.
 On the return trip we met this fresh group of walkers enjoying the East Rim Overlook.
 By 11:15AM, a lot more "ants" had found the floor of Wildcat Canyon.
 An East Rim view of the West Rim Overlook at Wildcat Canyon.
It has finally dried up enough so that the expansion of the LaSalle Canyon parking lot on Parkman's Plain north of  Rt. 71 has begun in earnest.

It's SUMMERTIME and the living is easy. 

Follow Lou Reed's advice and

"Take a walk on the wild side!"