Friday, July 25, 2014

July 24, 2014 Buffalo Rock State Park

When the severe storm came through on June 30th, it really did some damage.  About 90% of the trails at Starved Rock State Park are closed.  Fortunately we have 2 other state parks.  We haven't been to Buffalo Rock State Park in awhile so off we went.  29 hikers and 2 dogs. Enjoy!

Entry sign to the park

Titled "Effigy Tumuli" in tribute to the Native American burial grounds that inspired it, this unique "earth art" depicts five sculptures native to the Illinois River. The Effigy Tumuli was the vision of artist Michael Heizer who created the sculptures of a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and a water strider. To better appreciate and understand the sculptures, it is best to look first from a distance and then walk around on top of them.

Just as with Starved Rock, Stay on the Trail
We still saw some Wildflowers.  Some I know, some I don't.  I looked up a few, and hope I got them right.
Pretty, but don't know the name
I really wish I knew the summer wildflowers better.  I think I need to buy a book
Crown Vetch
Joe was telling us how the Effigy was formed.  Buffalo Rock was once the site of a mine, and as part of its conversion into a state park, the Ottawa Silica Company Foundation comissioned Heizer in 1983 to complete the large-scale tumuli at Buffalo Rock. The work was completed in 1985. The tumuli, like most of Heizer's earthworks, are massive in scale. Water strider is 685 feet long, frog is 340 feet long, turtle is 650 feet long, catfish is 770 feet long, and snake is 2,070 feet long from head to tail (though it curves). Whereas frog, turtle, and catfish are essentially mounds built upon the flat bluff of Buffalo Rock, turtle and snake utilize the natural geography to their advantage, with the turtle's shell being formed by a mound as the rock dips to the river level, and the snake curving around and also dipping down 90 feet to the river level.

The other 2 signs are missing.  They need to be updated.

View of Island from the viewing platform.  I think the purple flower is Purple Loosestrife.  It is an invasive swamp plant.
We were having a great hike and we looked up and there was a flock of Pelicans.

West end of Buffalo Rock

Cool corridor like formation
Queen Anne's Lace
Partridge Pea (check out the delicate leaves)
We arrived at the only open overlook in the Park
Both of these couples were staying at the Lodge.  One was from Oklahoma and the other was from Aurora
??? thoughts ???
In the Campanula family
True it it's name, The park has 2 resident buffalo
No feeding of the Bison!!!
Sign by the Bison cage
We saw many caterpillars, maybe soon we will see some butterflies!
Getting back to the Starved Rock State Park we are reminded of the trail closures.  Don't cross the signs, $120.00 fine.
The Starved Rock Gift Shop picks a different T-shirt every week and puts it on sale for $10.00.  This week they chose the Hike-a-palooza shirt.  Stop by in the next week for this special buy.

Another great day for a hike.  We are not sure where we are going next week.  Hopefully some of the trails at Starved Rock will finally be open.  

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, July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014 Council Overhang, Ottawa, Kaskaskia and Illinois Canyons

With many of the trails being closed at Starved Rock State Park the Walker's Club schedule has been altered so we can go where the trails are open.  We are taking it one week at a time.  Today was also our annual picnic / potluck. 

We all carpooled to the Ottawa/Kaskaskia/Council Overhang parking lot, right off of route 71, at the east end of the park.  We were patiently waiting for a few more hikers.  We started with 41 hikers and a dog.
41 hikers and a dog

We thought we would go up into Council Overhang 1st and then walk into Ottawa Canyon, and then Kaskaskia.  We first came to the "Boot".  This is a sandstone formation where you need to use your imagination to see the hiking or CCC boot.  There is a lot of greenery in this photo.  It is seen better in the spring or winter. 
The Boot (hiking or CCC style)

Going into Council Overhang
One of our regular walker members (Joe) tells us all about the St. Peter's Sandstone.  I always learn something new.  Sam Sine and his family did programs here years ago.
Council Overhang

Ottawa then Kaskaskia

Our first Canyon today was Ottawa.  I took a photo of the first waterfall of the day.  I was actually surprised that all 3 canyons today had waterfalls.  

I think this is an American Bellflower

This next flower I call a ditch lily.  That is where you see them mostly.  In the ditches along the roadsides.  Also the next photo is of chicory.  You can also see those along the roadsides.
Orange day lily (ditch lily)
On this type of plant in all of the canyons we were in today, these little beads were on some of the leaves.  Someone said they were larvae that was on the leaves and the plant has formed a sealant over the egg which formed a bead.  Not really sure of this.  It sounds good, but I couldn't find anything.

Little beads ???

Kaskaskia Canyon

Coming out of Kaskaskia

Daddy Long Legs Spider

I love this little knotty tree.  We always stop and talk about it when coming out of Ottawa / Kaskaskia Canyons.  Today I decided to take a photo.
Burly/ Knotty Tree
There is a little place right off the parking area at Ottawa /Kaskaskia Canyons.  Call it what you like.... No name Canyon, the Wedding Cove, etc... It is just a neat place.  Easy to get to.  Just a few steps from the parking lot.  Today we had a nice couple from the Lodge join us for our hike.  I took their photo here.

A couple that was staying at the Lodge
Some of us walked directly to Illinois Canyon via the "Swamp Trail" that connects the two parking areas.  And some just moved their cars to the next parking lot.  I took the "Swamp Trail".  It wasn't bad.  A little mud but doable.

Illinois Canyon
Once we actually got on the trail going into Illinois Canyon, we did notice a few trees that fell during the storm on June 30th.  The park staff had come in earlier and cleared the trails here.

Tree down in Illinois Canyon
Part of the group taking a break
I can't say this is my favorite canyon.  But I do like it.  It is a little short when you refer to a waterfall, but it sure is picturesque.  Don't you think?  Today it deserves 2 photos.
Illinois Canyon Waterfall
Illinois Canyon Waterfall

Little Green Frog in Illinois Canyon

Shelf Fungus in Illinois Canyon

Today after our hike we met in Fox Ridge for our Annual picnic/potluck.  Everyone brought something.  I brought the watermelon. I try to be healthy, then I eat the Chocolate Amaretto Pie made my Dawn and the Killer brownies made by Gene.  Good food was had by all.  Thank you to all my Walker Friends for making the picnic great!

Chocolate Amaretto Pie

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.