Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Starved Rock Walkers Club (+1 dog) drove to the east end of the Park to see Council Overhang, Ottawa and Kaskaskia Canyons. Then they hiked the trail connecting two parking lots (the Swamp Trail) to go in and out of Illinois canyon. A nice late summer sojourn!

Walkers on the hardly muddy trail to Council Overhang.
 Forty-some walkers had plenty of room in the native American "man cave" named Council Overhang.
 Leaving the Overhang and entering Ottawa Canyon.
This is Jeremiah. He's a good friend of mine!
 Lobelia loves the damp parts of the Park like here along Kaskaskia Creek.
 A brief pause here at the headwall of Kaskaskia Canyon.
Exiting the mouth of Kaskaskia Canyon headed 
for Illinois Canyon.
 No, we are not reporting the broken "blarney stone" in the canyon! ;)
 A September view up Illinois Creek.
 "Touch-me-not" pods in front of a jewel weed blossom. Both parts of the same plant.
 A line of "fun guys" on a trail step-over.
 Yes, the trails are gathering a leaf carpet.
 We thought we were crossing a creek, but it might well be a summer/fall boundary.
 A forest growing on a canyon floor has to get its branches straight up into the sunlight as quickly as possible.
 A quiet pool along Illinois Creek.
 Just finished the last of six stream crossings on the canyon floor. Always best to walk this at dry times.
 In September many Park trails are bordered by yellow blossomed jewel weed hedges.
Some September vegetation reminds us who was
 on the trail first!
We found a trail-side group of "fun guys" having
 a real high time!

"Now shall I walk or shall I ride?"

"Ride," Pleasure said:

"Walk," Joy replied.


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Thirty many Starved Rock Walkers and three dogs drove into Utica and walked the tow path west to Split Rock and back again.
A great day to be Outside!
Walkers gather at the trailhead near the Utica sky scrapers.
Yes, the I & M Canal State Trail is the official name
for the tow path.
 From the start it was obvious that this would be a 
fifty shades of green hike!
The railroad bridge over Peccumsagen Creek beyond which is located the Blackball Mines Nature Preserve, a bat sanctuary.
 The mouth of the old train tunnel that still goes through
 north Split Rock.
 North Split Rock is one of the best exposures of the west-dipping sandstone strata of the LaSalle Anticline. Yes, geology students statewide come to see this outcrop!
Time to play "Spot the Turtles". Here are four of them.
One Splash later and only two are left. The empty spaces are to the right of those two.
 Some walkers were already prepped for tonight's Bears/Packers game. There were no Green Bay jerseys present on this hike!
 The new rental bikes between Utica & LaSalle have brought white pea gravel fill into the more jarring tow path potholes.
 Who knew teenage boys could swear, fight, & gamble! Mule driver was one of Wild Bill's many short-term employments.
Three turtles - Four - no - Five! Thank you for playing!Always a bonus when a geologist spots some coral fossils in a kiosk paver.

This walk was all of 5 miles. 
To quote Ellen Degeneres,

"You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was sixty.
She's ninety-seven today and we don't know where 
the heck she is!"

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Forty Starved Rock Walkers eased into this beautiful August day by hiking the East Bluff Trail out to the Sandstone Point staircase and back along the River Trail. A pleasant ~4 miles!
 SR Walkers leaving the Lodge headed for the trailhead.
 The club's self appointed "tail" never leaves anyone behind.
 The East Bluff Trail has been shaded by the "green tunnel" since June.
 Yellow false foxgloves on Sandstone Point.
 It is not difficult to get a good river pic from atop Sandstone Point.
 The trail is curving around the headwall of Lone Tree Canyon.
 It is somehow fitting that this is the lone remaining canyon sign on the East Bluff Trail.
 The trail mud is long gone!
 Down is the preferred direction on the Sandstone Point staircase!
 The Eagle 1 tour boat has been walking the dinner cruise passengers into Lone Tree Canyon for a brief visit.
 Unfortunately, the "ice box" in witch's kitchen is starting to collect artwork. :(
Jewel weed blossoms along the River Trail. 
 Break time on the floor of Wildcat Canyon.
 The Wildcat Canyon waterfall has achieved complete invisibility.
 A line of cormorant "fenceposts" on a log snag below the SR dam.
The calm before the Labor Day weekend on the Eagle Cliff boardwalk.

Today we learned what Henry David Thoreau once said,

"A morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."

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."