Thursday, February 18, 2016

St. Louis, Aurora, Sac and Kickapoo Canyons 02-18-2016

Very comfortable hiking today.  No mittens needed.  Just above freezing.  When we were walking through the picnic area the wind pick up and it was a bit chilly.  The waterfalls were all frozen and so was the trail.  Yak trax came in handy on most places on the trail.  31 hikers in total today.  We left the Lodge on the West Bluff trail out to St. Louis Canyon.  On the way back we came through the picnic area and going into Aurora Canyon. 

I saw this owl on my way to work yesterday.  Lucky to get a photo.  Thought I would share it.

Top of Aurora Canyon

Top of Sac Canyon

Side view of Kickapoo Canyon

West Bluff Boardwalk trail.  Snow covered with a bit of ice

Iron in the sandstone (that is Gary's walking stick in the photo)

Bonus waterfall in St. Louis Canyon

Still frozen.  A bit hollow and not the purest of white anymore. 

I thought it looked like a melting ice cream cone.  Some said that it looked like a morel mushroom.

A couple of girls from Galena and their mom joined us on the hike today.  It was easy to find them with all their pink.

Ice formation on the canyon wall in St. Louis Canyon

We decided to go back to the Lodge through the picnic area. Up and over the road.  Going up....

Coming down.

This trail is the old road that was replaced when the current Rt. 178 bridge and road was put in.  In a few years the current road and bridge will be replaced.  And guess where it will be?  That's right!  Right on the old original road, so much for the hiking trail.  We'll see what happens.  Looked up a few things.  The current bridge was built in 1962, and the old Utica Swing bridge was built in 1906 (guessing it was torn down after the new bridge was operational.  You can still see minor traces of the bridge and road. 

Love these old trees.  Hate to see them fallen. 

We walked through the picnic area in hopes of seeing a few eagles.  We saw about 4. 

Crossing back over the road and into Aurora Canyon.  The best part of the day!

This was a little sketchy.  It was just snow, no ice.

Icicles inside of Aurora Canyon

I was at the end of the group, so by the time I got here, I was just about the only one in here.  Only about 10-12 people can fit into this canyon.

Aurora Canyon

Lichen along the Sandstone in Aurora Canyon. This was pretty neat.  Never really noticed it before.

Stairway leading back to the Lodge.  The hike was 2 hours and only about 1 1/2 miles.  With this stairway at the end, it seems like at least a 1/2 mile longer.

Joe, Terry and I decided to check out Illinois Canyon.  We will be having a Mega Hike this weekend and I am concerned about trail conditions in this canyon as the trail crosses a stream 3 times.  This canyon is also noted for its mud in the early spring.  Our checking did nothing for our weekend prediction.  Trail looks good and frozen with frozen crossings.  Will it still be like that on the weekend..... MAYBE????  We could only hope.

All along the 1/2 mile canyon are these incredible ice falls

Found this guy on the trail.  I had to replace his eyes and nose.  Well then his head fell off.  But I was determined to get a whole body shot. Really not sure if he will make it to the weekend's mega hike.
Bonus ice fall near the end of Illinois Canyon
Bonus ice fall, near "THE photo tree" in Illinois Canyon

Ice sheet about 6inches thick at the head of Illinois Canyon
Nice water flowing from Illinois Canyon

Going back crossing #1
Going back - crossing #2

Crossing #3

Parts of the trail was a bit muddy, but not to bad
I will leave you with this: You have to do what is right for you, No one walks in your shoes or hiking boots.

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