Thursday, December 7, 2017

Margery Carlson Nature Preserve 12-07-2017

About twice a year the Starved Rock Walker's Club goes to a Nature Preserve. Today we decided to go south of Rt. 178 to the 234 acre Margery Carson Nature Preserve.



This nature preserve contains young forest, bluffs and streams typical of sites near the Vermilion River in the Grand Prairie Section. Some excellent examples of eroding bluff plant communities may be seen here. Over seventy-five species of flowering herbaceous plants have been identified in the preserve including forked aster and bottle gentian. Deer, beaver and red fox are also known to inhabit the area.

This preserve is named in memory of Margery Carlson, who was instrumental in protecting the area, formerly known as Big Bend Nature Preserve. Carlson was a founder of the Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy, serving the chapter as its first secretary and later as trustee.




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Today there were 46 walkers.  We car pooled and still didn't all fit in the small parking lot.


Smile!  Especially if your a dear!

There is sort of like a trail once you leave the parking lot.  We went down a slope for quite a while, maybe 3/4 mile.  Once we got to the bottom I told everyone to stay together and make sure you could see the person in front.

We arrived at the Vermillion River and had to go down a small slope.

The View at the Vermillion River was spectacular. At least I thought it was.

I wish I knew what I was looking for.  I should have taken photos of the trees around me at this point.  I believe these to be "Cypress knees or knuckles"

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the bald cypress is the presence of knees. Cypress knees are cone-shaped structures that grow vertically from the roots of the tree where the roots are at the soil/sediment surface.  The most likely function of the knees is to provide stability in the swamp substrate. 
Knees were once thought to provide the roots with oxygen an adaptive strategy under flooded circumstances. Later, experiments showed that there was little exchange of oxygen between roots and knees. Trees that had knees removed continued to thrive.

Horse tails also grow here.  The other place that I know they grow are at the intersection of Ottawa and Kaskaskia Canyons in Starved Rock State Park.

I will leave you with this: Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” “The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps.

Friday, November 24, 2017

November 11-22-2017, Starved Rock, French Canyon, Lover's Leap and Eagle's Cliff

Wildcat



Today's walker's club met on Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving.  We stayed near the lodge and hiked to the top of Starved Rock, into French Canyon, Lover's Leap, Eagle's Cliff and Wildcat Canyon.  It was a gorgeous day to be hiking.  We did three major stairways up and down.  One more  than we needed to.


All 36 of us heading down the steps by the Back Door Lounge.  150 steps.
It is really hard to see, even with the zoom.  But there is an eagle in the tree (on Leopold Island)  towards the center of the photo.  Photo taken from the top of Starved Rock
View of Lover's Leap from the top of Starved Rock
View of the Lodge from the top of Starved Rock
Going into French canyon.  These steps will be extremely slippery once the ice starts to form.  Some years I don't get into this canyon at all in the Winter.


Inside of French Canyon


Ice Crystals in the pool of French Canyon

French Canyon

Starved Rock from Lover's Leap

The Locks with a barge and tow from Lover's Leap



View of the Lock and Dam from Eagle's Cliff


Everyone enjoying a sunny day on Eagle's Cliff




We saw a few ducks on the river today.

Wildcat Canyon.  Some ice some water. 



Ice at the base of Wildcat Canyon


Wildcat Canyon

Top of Wildcat Canyon

We have a variety of options to eat at the Lodge.  Main Dining Room, Back Door Lounge, Cafe, and Trailheads at the Visitor Center.

Newest woodcarving at the Lodge.  This is located near Canyonside Cabin (on the East side of the Lodge property)
I will leave you with this: Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. ...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

11-16-2017 Buffalo Rock State ParkThe si

Hiking at Buffalo Rock State Park
We met in the Starved Rock Lodge's Lobby.  After a few announcements we all carpooled to Buffalo Rock State Park.  Today there were 2 dogs, and 36 hikers.  The day was chilly and windy.  Great day for a hike.

This sign is on the shelter where the "Buffalo" are in the park.

The park staff does feed them.  The walker's club has been here on occasion to see this happen.

This viewing platform has signs that tell about the park and how it was formed. Artist Michael Heizer created the Effigy Tumuli, commissioned for the task in 1983 by the Ottawa Silica Company Foundation. The art project, coupled with efforts to plant grasses on the barren terrain, was meant to reclaim the land left behind after the Buffalo Rock Coal Company and Osage Coal Company strip-mined the area. The foundation paid the artist's fees.

One of 2 "Buffalo"

View from the trail.

Phragmites is an invasive reed plant that grows in wet grounds. 

 View of the Illinois River.    The land was mined between the 1930s and 1950s, then abandoned, left empty of vegetation or wildlife due to highly acidic soil conditions. The $1 million reclamation project was expected to help curtail erosion of the unfavorable soil into nearby waters. The construction cost of the project was paid by the Illinois Abandoned Mined Lands Reclamation Council. The property, donated by Ottawa Silica Company, eventually became part of Buffalo Rock.

Buffalo Rock trails have very LITTLE protected areas.  On windy cold days you really feel the wind chill.  Jan is upgrading from a plain pair of gloves to a pair of Wool Mittens.  Good Choice today!

Heizer designed the sculptures as a tribute to the American Indian burial grounds, hence the word "tumuli" in the name, referring to man-made mounds usually erected over grave sites. He chose five animals indigenous to the region -- a snake, catfish, turtle, frog and water strider -- and replicated their forms to mimic the earthen mounds used in Native American burial grounds in the Midwest.

Ottawan Edmund Thornton, chairman of Ottawa Silica and president of its foundation at the time the sculptures were commissioned, initially saw the possibility of placing something artistic on the barren land after showing it to his friend Eva J. Pope, a New York art consultant, who suggested a sculpture park.  The best way to see the sculptures is from the air, but since this method is not readily available to visitors to the park, the next best thing is to view them from a distance to gain some perspective, and then walk on top of the mounds, using a healthy dose of imagination.

Of the 5 sculptures this is the only one that is left whole.  The other 4 have not held up as well.  Some were damaged by the environment and some had some help by vandals.

We took the trail to the top of the Catfish.   The trail is about 1.5 miles long, meandering among the five sculptures on 200 acres. It includes interpretive signs to help visitors understand what they are seeing. Often the sculptures blend into the surroundings so convincingly that visitors would see only hills rather than the representations. The height of the sculptures range from seven to 18 feet and extend anywhere from several hundred feet in length to several thousand feet.


Some of the trails are closed in this park due to a tornado that did some destruction in Feb. 2017.  They have been clearing some of the large tree falls, but some of the trails are still closed.

"Riggs" waiting for his treat, for being so well behaved on the hike......
I will leave you with this: Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

11-9-2017 Hennepin, Hidden, Owl Canyons

Best view today


I am going to start by saying what a beautiful day it was today.  Fall Colors are at their peak.  I know it is more than a little late.  I hiked yesterday to Lover's Leap, Eagle's Cliff and the top of Starved Rock.  I will also include those photos here.

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Walking down to the main trail from Hennepin Parking lot

What a nice group of hikers out today. They are as colorful as the leaves were today.

View looking West from Hennepin Canyon Overlook

On our way to the top of Owl Canyon

Upper Hennepin Canyon.  Bridge is Rt. 71

Many on the Hennepin Canyon footbridge

Hoping to find some antlers here with all the deer rub.

Hidden Canyon

A few bent trees


Going back up this path to the parking lot.

This inspirational sign is in the Cafe.  Most times many of the walkers congregate here after the hike to visit a while over a cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate.


View looking East from Eagle's Cliff




View looking East toward Lover's Leap from the top of Starved Rock
I will leave you with this: The tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal, the tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.