Friday, June 27, 2014

June 26, 2014 St. Louis, Aurora, Sac and Kickapoo Canyons

The Walker's Club hike today was suppose to hike from the Lodge to LaSalle Canyon. I haven't been there in awhile and was really looking forward to it.  However, the State of Illinois was going to spray for the invasive Emerald Ash Borer in the morning and closed the East end of the park.  So we changed our hike.  It was a great cool day for a hike.  Enjoy the hike!

25 hikers plus 2 dogs
We first came to the top of Aurora Canyon.  It was dry.  On the way back we will stop in Aurora Canyon (It is my favorite canyon).
Top of Aurora
There is a little water flowing in Sac Canyon.  Not a good place to get a photo.
Top of Sac

Top of Sac Canyon
There are Hydrangea bushes everywhere.  I even took a close up photo.
Hydrangea Bushes

Close up Hydrangea


Mushroom along the way
There are many unique sandstone formations on the way to St.Louis Canyon.  This one is the most colorful with the added iron that is present. 
Jack Gene and Don

Campanula - (Harebell)
I don't know much about this vine, but it makes for a neat photo.  It is on the way to St. Louis Canyon.

Small pink flowers -???
We arrived at St. Louis Canyon to a magnificent waterfall.  Better than I anticipated.  I even took a video.
St. Louis Canyon

All enjoying St. Louis Canyon
St Louis Canyon
We finally had to leave St. Louis canyon and head back.  After the first stairway back, some of us took a little break at the bench. 
Break time
On the way back there is this large rock (taller than me) that has this hole in the bottom that goes all the way through.  I always wanted to take a photo of it.  Enjoy!
Cool formation
A lot of this section of the trail has a boardwalk.  Nice to walk on when its dry.  When it is wet or icy, be careful they can be slick.
Mayapple - The ripened fruit is edible in little amounts, though when consumed in large amounts the fruit is poisonous.  The rhizome, foliage and roots are also poisonous.
Mayapple (not edible)
Jack in the Pulpit fruit - Consumption of the raw plant material results in a powerful burning sensation. It can cause irritation of the mouth and digestive system, and on rare occasions the swelling of the mouth and throat may be severe enough to affect breathing.
Jack in the Pulpit fruit.  Tiny green berries in the center.
 Onto my favorite Canyon..... Aurora.  How can one not love this Canyon..... Just look at the entrance.....Bishop's Cap and Hydrangeas line the picturesque walkway going in.
Going in Aurora

Aurora Canyon
  We barely all fit in the Canyon.  But I think they secretly like this canyon as much as I do, they just don't want to admit it.  It has great character and personality!

 There is plenty of poison ivy everywhere in the park.  Be especially careful when by the stairs.  They creep out.  Leaves of 3 leave them be.
Poison Ivy
 This pelican carving marks the entrance and exit to the trails to the west of the Lodge.  There is a walking tour brochure at the Lodge called Art in the Park.  It contains all of the Woodcarving artwork that we have and also the other art pieces around the Lodge grounds.  If you are not up for a hike this is perfect for you.  We have about 35 pieces from bronze statues to Chainsaw woodart.  Enjoy!
Pelican carving
 Sadly enough, people that come to relax and enjoy the park are the ones that make it a mess.  Most of the time when I go hiking I bring along a plastic grocery sack and pick up trash.  Today there were 3 people with bags picking up trash.  All 3 of us had our bags full.  I picked up water bottles, straws, candy wrapper, a pair of gloves and even a pool towel from the Lodge.  I challenge and urge you all to bring a bag when hiking. 
 Today upon our return to the Lodge, we all enjoy some homemade ice cream in the Cafe.  Today's flavors were: Banana Split, Vanilla, Strawberry, Praline Pecan, Chipolte Chocolate, Mocha Coffee Bean (that was my choice), Smores and Chocolate.
Today's ice cream choices
All enjoying ice cream
What a great way to end a great hike with ice cream.  The Lodge makes the ice cream daily as needed in the kitchen and distributes it to the various locations: The Cafe (by the front desk).  Elements (the main dining room). Trailheads (Visitor Center concessions). Cattails (Gift shop and wine tasting room on Rt. 178 & Rt. 6).  Enjoy!

I will leave you with this:  Wherever you may hike or walk, just put one foot in front of the other.  It's all about the experience not the destination.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

June 5, 2014 Illinois & Michigan Canal

June 5, 2014 Walker's Club hike was on the Illinois Michigan Canal.  I put the trolley in Utica early in the morning.  The Walker's Club all drove to the starting point in LaSalle and walked to Utica.  When we got there we all got in the trolley and I drove them in the trolley back to their cars in LaSalle.  

Canal Boat in LaSalle

And we all begin, about 24 of us
 All along the canal there are these signs.  They have mileage and facts about the canal.  Very interesting.
Trail marker

Yellow Flag Irises along the canal

An Aqueduct

A turtle getting some sun

Plaque on the Rt. 39 bridge

View from under the Rt. 39 bridge

Real Solomon's Seal

Split Rock, About 1/2 way

We saw many flowers on the trail.  Many flowers were great to look at, but I didn't have a clue as to their names.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Hatched turtle eggs (I think)
1 Little Shasta Daisy, with Clover
Not sure of the name of this flower.  But it was taller than me.

1.4 miles to go

Great Blue Heron

Final Bridge in Utica
Sign in Utica

Everyone going back to the Lodge

 We always have a great time on the Thursday morning hikes.  Any one that would like to join are welcome.  We meet in the Lobby of the Lodge every Thursday morning at 9:00a.m.  We have a 3 month schedule that we follow. This is available at the front desk.

I will leave you with this: Wherever you may hike or walk, just put one foot in front of the other.  It's all about the experience not the destination.