Thursday, January 16, 2020

About thirty Starved Rock Walkers (no dogs because, too cold for them) drove to the Hennepin Canyon parking lot and hiked the East Bluff Trail out to Owl Canyon and back. A sunny, windy, feels like -5F walk in the Park.

A deep water-filled bootprint in the mud, now all frozen solid, sums up today's trail conditions.
Gathering in the puddled and rutted Hennepin lot, except the puddles and mud are concrete hard!
This inch+ deep puddle was solid ice with a frost speckled surface.
The bright sun and blue sky really hides the below zero windchill!
When walking with a geologist he will point out where the trail crosses an old coal strip mine. The white arrow on the right side of the pic is pointing to the coal seam. This was probably mined for personal use before the Park's 1911 founding.
A trail bridge view up Hennepin Creek under the Rt. 71 bridge. 
A winter trail glimpse of the waterfall on the headwall of Hennepin Canyon. This cannot be seen through the summer vegetation.
The turnaround point where the Bluff trail crosses Owl Creek and meets the trail climbing to the Parkmans Plain parking lot.
 This is bent "Indian" tree #3 along a fifty-foot section of the Owl Canyon rim. I suspect that all three trees were woven through a long-gone fence that kept hikers safely above the rim.

Today's walk caused a modification in a quote from Ruth Westheimer;
"Our way is not soft grass, it's a bluff trail with lots of frozen mud. But it goes forward, toward the sun."

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Near forty Starved Rock Walkers hiked out to LaSalle Canyon and back today. Near five miles of the best walking in the Park in a persistent drizzle that occasionally became just plain rain.
 I parked in the newly expanded Parkmans Plain lot and walked downstream to the Canyon.
 Even though the number of parking spaces has doubled, this notice on the map stand reminds us that the number of canyons to visit on this walk has been cut in half.
 The East Bluff Trail around the headwall of Owl Canyon.
 The top of the Owl Canyon staircase.
 The 141 steps descend the bluff to the River Trail.
 The bottom of the Owl Canyon Staircase.
 A River Trail view of the South Bluff. This view is hidden behind a green leaf wall all summer.
 Walking downstream towards one of the River Trail bridges.
 A channel marker buoy that 180 days of fast moving 2019 flood waters ripped off its anchor cable. Red buoys mark the midriver side of the channel. The ropes seen here do not belong to the buoy.
 Green buoys mark the near shore side of the commercial channel.
 The River Trail bridge over LaSalle Creek should be part of the "Art in the Park " collection.
 Yes, art in the Park!
 The structurally unsound bridge over Tonti Creek has been closed to hikers since April, 2013. Just a part of what has closed Tonti Canyon to all visitors.

 LaSalle Canyon east wall trail without walkers.
 Same trail with SR Walkers!
 An east wall trail bridge and trail retaining wall.
 Yes! The trail is still retained!
The LaSalle Canyon headwall.
SR Walkers at the headwall!
Far from the tallest but easily my favorite Park waterfall!
 The lower canyon falls and plunge pool aren't bad either!

 Leaving the canyon during a break in the drizzle.
 On the River Trail back towards the Lodge.
 No, the camera can't see the rain, but it didn't last much longer.
Back to the parking lot and headed for a libation.


The rainy walk recalled a quote from 
Leonard L. Levinson,

"A pessimist only sees the dark side of the clouds and mopes;
a philosopher sees both sides and shrugs;
an optimist doesn't see the clouds at all - 
he's walking on them."

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Forty-eight Starved Rock Walkers (+2 dogs) used this sunny day after Christmas to climb the Rock, enter French Canyon, and see Eagle Cliff.

 There weren't a lot of winter coats and gloves seen today.
 To go from the Lodge to the Rock you have to descend the 150 metal tread staircase down the South Bluff.
 Two-thirds of the climb up the Rock is an asphalt ramp.
 Sixty-six more stairs and you reach the boardwalk that circles the top of Starved Rock.
In this view from the Rock to Leopold Island you can see the beach and rip-rap around the island that has been under water about 180 days this year. 
 This second flag pole, 100-feet of stainless steel, was gifted to the Park by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1988. They also supplied the first pole in 1913. 
 A view of Starved Rock Lodge from the west side of 
Starved Rock.
 Back down the 66 steps and headed for French Canyon. Cocoa the dog has been a SR Walker as long as I have.
 Now down the ten carved sandstone steps into French Canyon.
 The waterfall on the headwall of French Canyon, seen today in mostly trickle mode, is probably the most photographed waterfall in Illinois.
 Today's youngest hiker escorted by far from the oldest of today's hikers.
 About forty walkers comes close to filling the floor of French Canyon.
 Once you have walked up the waterfall to enter the canyon, walking down it to exit is not a problem.
 All who entered the canyon also got out without getting wet.
 Hikers like muddy trails that are mostly leaf covered.
 A turkey-tail "fun guy" party on a trailside dead tree in French Canyon.
 The last three flights of the 144 step main staircase to the top of the South Bluff.
 A "Boxing Day" view of the hungry butte from Lovers Leap.
 I asked her if I could have an Oreo. 
This is not her "yes" face!
 There is always something to see from the Eagle Cliff platform. We did see one bald eagle on today's walk.
It looks like some of the new lock chamber gates, to be installed next summer, have arrived at their destination.


To quote most of this week's 
social media users,

"MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!"