Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 16, 2014, Wildcat, Eagle's Cliff, Lover

They opened some trails this morning after being closed since June 30th. There was a storm with severe winds that came though and did quite a bit of damage.  I haven't been hiking in awhile so I thought I would get out early and check it out.  I saw one other person on the trail, and lots of animal activity.  This first photo was amazing.  All 4 deer were welcoming me to the trail head.

 I chose to leave from the Lodge and head out to Wildcat Canyon on the Campanula trail.  I then went down into Wildcat Canyon.  Coming out of Wildcat, I walked along the River trail up into Beehive Overlook.  I took my favorite stairway up to Eagle's Cliff and the boardwalk to Lover's Leap.  Finished up the walk on the Bluff Trail.  Enjoy the photos!

It's finally time to take a walk in the park!
Bridge to Wildcat Canyon (notice all the new wood)
First stairway- going up
Common occurrence on the trail today
On the way to Wildcat Canyon
With all the downed trees, we now have places to rest.

A tree hanging well off the trail near Wildcat Canyon
The trail is still closed past Wildcat Canyon
Wildcat Canyon from the top
Going down the steps by Wildcat there is a big root ball and a stairway repair
Common site on the trails today
Wildcat Canyon from inside (love the vines)
Some parts of the park are still Restricted!  PLEASE STAY ON THE TRAILS!!

Trail is still closed East of Wildcat Canyon
Looking East on the River Trail.  What a lovely morning to be out hiking!
Beehive Overlook still has an obstructed view- No tree loss here
On the river trail looking to the West (Eagles Cliff)
Deer near Eagles Cliff (There was also 2 fawns nearby that didn't make it into the photo)
This is MY best viewing spot in the park - Eagle's Clif
View from Eagle's Cliff looking to the West - Lock and Dam - Leipold Island
As you can see the Illinois River is VERY low.  We still have White Pelicans
View from Lover's Leap - Leipold and Plum Island
Starved Rock from Lover's Leap
Coming back on the Bluff Trail.  If you see this type of debris- it is NOT a trail.  Leave it there.
Many or even most of the trees I seen that had fallen were Oaks or Maples. Very few pine trees.
Top of French
There are still many wildflowers out on the trail and here are a few photos.  Not sure of their names.  There is still much Poison Ivy out there as well!  Another good reason to stay on the trails.  Although there are many trees down in the park, the park still looks awesome.  I see something new and exciting everytime I go hiking.  With the new fallen trees the canopy is wide open in places, giving new growth.  It will be interesting to see what fills in the spaces.  Patience.
Poison Ivy- Leaves of 3 leave them be!
What a great day to be a bee!
Not sure on the name (I need a book)
My favorite time to hike is in the morning!  What a treat I had this morning!  
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.

Friday, August 1, 2014

07-31-2014 Matthiessen State Park, Starved Rock, French Canyon

Many of Starved Rock State Park's trails are still closed due to the major storm we had on June 30th.  The Walker's Club went to Matthiessen State Park and hiked the Upper and Lower Dells.  Some walked around Lake Matthiessen.  After the Walker's Hike I also hiked with a group that was staying at the Lodge for a meeting.  We went to the top of Starved Rock and French Canyon.  Enjoy!

We started our hike at Matthiessen Park and noticed that 3 of us were wearing the same shirts. Thought it would make a great photo.  This shirt was the Mega Hike shirt last fall.
Me, Arnie, Cocoa and Gary

I did a drawing this week for reusable water bottles.  Pictured below are the lucky winners.  We just see so many empty water bottles on the trails.  I always suggest to take along a reusable bottle on the trails.  This one is great for a small hike.  When you get done drinking it, you can roll it up and put it in your pocket.
Lucky water bottle winners
First thing you see at this park is the large picnic shelter and the replica fort.
Lots of hikers today.. 35 hikers and 2 dogs
Going down 146 steps to get to the trail
There is a variety of things to do all year long at Matthiessen park. Here we see a sign for Cross Country Skiing and Hiking.

It wasn't too long before we came to Strawberry Rock

Some of us went into Devil's Paint Box.

Great Colors in the Devil's Paintbox today.
We also saw a variety of summer wildflowers.  Here are a few.  I try my best to look up the names, but I have been falling short.  I really need to get a book on wildflowers of Illinois.
These are on their way out - American Bellflower??

Woodland Sunflower?

There were many of these in the lower, lower dells.  I have never seen the flower, but love the look of the heart shaped leaves.

Once you are on the lower dells side you can walk down toward Cascade Falls.  Today it was dry as a bone.  From looking at the waterfall area, to the left are cave like areas you can walk through.  Kind of like little rooms.  The last room looks out onto the water pool.  Great for photos.
looking out from the last cave like area

This couple joined us.  They were guests at the Lodge.  Great photo (It was dark when I took the photo)  great flash!

Looking up at Cascade Falls (0 water)

Saw little minnows?? in patches of water in the creek bed

And a frog
Coming out of the lower, lower dells on our way to the other side. Lots of stairs to be climbed. (didn't count this time.)
Cement bridge and stairway

Joe wins the climb!!

Going down into the lower section of the upper dells on our way to the Lake

Traversing across some concrete pylons

Arnie and Cocoa

Matthiessen Park also had some downed trees.  Not as bad as Starved Rock
We find a lot of things on the trails.  Today Joe and Jack found a stroller.  It was in pretty good shape.  Generally we find them at the top or bottom of a set of stairs.  They found this one in an alcove of sandstone a little bit before this stairway.  Joe took it to the top of the stairs here and we continued on to the Lake.
contemplating what to do with the stroller
A neat sandstone formation

Look real close its a dragonfly or damselfly.  (I can barely identify flowers, I can't begin to do these.)
We identified this plant as Blue Cohosh in the Spring.  I have been waiting for the blue berries to arrive.  
Blue Cohosh
Giant's Bathtub (today he would have to be a small giant)

Just a trickle going into the Giant's Bathtub
When you get to the Lake end, you are rewarded (most of the time) with a waterfall. Today from the amount of water we have seen I was very surprised that this waterfall was as noticeable as it was. Always a great place for a photo.
Lake Falls
Bridge over Lake Falls (the Lake is to the left)
At this point, some of the Walkers went around the lake and then back.  I had another hike scheduled with a group at the Lodge so I had to get back.

Father and son fishing.  I love this photo!

Fishing on the Lake
Saw a few more flowers on the way back to our starting point.

Doll's Eyes

Once I got back to the starting point (the fort area), I met up with Joe. He didn't go around the lake, but he was the one that took the stroller off the trail.  Him and I took a short ride to the model airplane field at the Vermillion River area at Matthiessen Park.  We heard there was a great show of a field of Sunflowers.  We heard correctly!  What a treat!  Enjoy!

I think every flower had a bee of some sort
I like all these pictures, but I think this is my favorite!
They are facing the sun
Still facing the sun, away from us
Great day to be a bee!
Since we were at the Model Airplane field, I also took a photo of one of the planes that were being flown while we were there.
Ok, enough goofing around, I had to go back to the Lodge for a 1:00p.m. hike.  The group is RAILS. Reaching Across Illinois Library System.  Great group of people.  I was really looking forward to the hike, because I haven't been to the top of Starved Rock in awhile and wanted to see the new solar powered light and panel. 

I always start my Starved Rock hike at the back of the Lodge by the arrow pointing to the top of Starved Rock.  What a great place to tell the Legend of Starved Rock (how Starved Rock received its name)
Arrow at the back of the Lodge pointing to Starved Rock
Great Poison Ivy display - Leaves of 3 leave them be.  Anyone that has been on my hike, knows I have a better saying. "Leaves that are green leave them be.  The trails are plenty wide enough, you do not need to be in the green stuff!"
Flagpole at the top of Starved Rock.  There were 2 lights (that I could see)  one in the front and one in the back.
These lights were at the base of the flagpole. And the solar panel was a little bit further down the boardwalk on the south side (see photos).  Directly across from the solar panel was a metal box (I'm guessing this is where all the solar power is converted so the lights get lit). anyone is welcome to correct me if I am a little off.
Solar panel (just what I thought it was going to look like)
Converter box??
View of the Lodge from the top of the Rock
We came down from the top of Starved Rock and on our way to French Canyon.  We saw many closed trail signs.  We saw many, I have no idea why others didn't see them.  
Closed Sign

Closed Sign

Closed Sign
Not a trail sign

Still with all the trails closed and not a trail, we still saw some amazing things!

French Canyon- Totally dry
Coming out of French
How many frogs do you see?  2.  They were near the water pool in French
Coming out of French
Back up the 150 to the Lodge
What a great day to be a hiking guide at Starved Rock in the Activities Department.  Today I love my job!  

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.