Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wildcat, Eagle's Cliff, Lover's Leap 12-30-2015

Early this morning it snowed maybe an inch, leaving the roads very slippery.  23 walkers today.  Great day for a hike.  We started our walk on the Campanula trail on the way to Wildcat Canyon.  We stayed on the bluff trail and went down the stairs by Lonetree canyon headed to LaSalle Canyon.  The trail was flooded by the LaSalle Canyon bridge so we turned around and went to Eagle's Cliff and Lover's Leap. 
Theme photo of the hike

23 hikers today and 2 dogs

Good thing we don't need the map

 Upper French Canyon

When we started out there had been only one person on the trail before us.
Upper Wildcat Canyon

Wildcat Canyon Waterfall

And how do we get into the Canyon?  Not today.

From Wildcat Canyon on.  We were the first ones on the trail.

I made the mistake of saying, that I should make a snow angel.....So here she is.  I will call her Susan.

Where did it go?  Sandstone Point
Oh here it is.  What happened?

Going down 155, on our way to the River trail

The river is getting real close to the trail

Almost to the LaSalle Canyon Bridge.  Now the Illinois River is on the trail.  LaSalle Canyon will have to wait until another day.

Little waterfall under Sandstone Point

I thought this was a real duck, until I didn't see it moving.  This was a close as we would come today to seeing wildlife.

View of the Dam from Eagles Cliff.  All dam gates are open

View from Eagles Clif

View to the East from Eagles Clif

View of Starved Rock from Lover's Leap

French Canyon from the bluff trail

Upper French Canyon, almost back to the Lodge

Finally saw some eagles today.

Reid and Kevin, part of the Walker's Club and brothers, built these snowballs while hiking today.  They tossed them around when they returned and the one who dropped the ball first was the loser.  The same brother dropped the ball twice.  Who was it???  I'm not telling.
I will leave you with this: You can only do something first once, no matter how much you wish you knew then what you know now.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dec. 18, 2015, St.Louis Canyon, I & M Canal

photo of the day

For today's blog, I am combining 2 hikes that I have done this past week.  Hike #1, is a hike that I did with some friends to St. Louis Canyon.  And, hike #2 is with the Walker's Club on Thursday, whereas we went to the Illinois Michigan Canal.  Enjoy!

 Hike #1
We left the Lodge and went down into Aurora Canyon, then proceeded through the picnic area.  We then took the old road, up and over the entrance road to the park and into St. Louis Canyon.  We returned on the West Bluff trail.

Sheryl checking out Aurora Canyon

Looking up from Aurora Canyon. Another reason to LOVE Aurora Canyon

We saw this pair of eagles down in the picnic area on the way to St. Louis Canyon

Flat Stanley joined us today.  He had a great time and was surprised by the pair of eagles!

Little bit of creek walking and balancing.  No wet feet today.
We were rewarded with a great waterfall in St. Louis Canyon.

Look closely....  I found this little sapling and my friend Jennifer added the penguin ornament.  Merry Christmas! (we took the ornament with us after the photo.)

Headed back to the Lodge, but first we have to go up some steps.

Little bit of creek water near Sac canyon

Sheryl, Jennifer and Carol on the Sac Canyon bridge

Hike #2
Today the hike was windy and about 31 degrees.  We had the wind in our face going out, but it was at our backs on the return trip.  When we walk the canal, it is really a matter of what direction we want to go.  Either walk 1/2 way to LaSalle (split rock) or start walking toward Ottawa from Utica.  Today's walk we went to split rock.

Just about to split rock.  You don't complete the walk today unless you touch the rock.  So they say.

On our way back, well at least some of us.  Today's walk, we were spread out quite a bit.

Sideways rock at Split Rock

Pecumsaugan Creek, looking south from the trail

.4 miles to go.  These markings are on the trail with historical information on them.

Arriving back in Utica

Start and end of our walk today.

Have you ever heard of the Elf on the Shelf?  Well this is Elf on a Rock.  He is waiting for his slower walking friends for a ride.
I will leave you with this: Eventually all the pieces fall into place.  Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dec. 10, 2015 Starved Rock, French, Wildcat and Pontiac Canyons

photo of the day

Today's walkers went to the top of Starved Rock, French, Pontiac and Wildcat Canyons.  Today was also our Christmas Party.  After the hike, we went to the Main Dining Room of the Lodge for Lunch. We also hosted a cookie exchange, where if you brought dozen cookies, we would mix them up and you would go home with a mixture of 2 doz cookies. 

43 walkers today.  The weather was about 52 and windy.  

View of Lover's Leap from Starved Rock

We were lucky enough to see 2 eagles flying while we were at the top of Starved Rock

Lock and Dam

Windy flags at the top of Starved Rock

View of the Lodge from the West side of Starved Rock

Take out what you bring in.  This is the last can, just like the sign says.

Going into French

Almost there

Joe is telling the story of how French Canyon got its name.

My friend Jennifer on the left with her friend Sheryl (now my friend also), celebrating Jennifer's birthday with us today.  Happy Birthday !!!

Coming out of French, be careful of these steps in the winter when the ice forms. Last year it was a very slippery ice slide.  If you slid in, you had a very tough time getting out. 

We couldn't decide if something had a fight here, a dog was brushed here or Santa trimmed his beard.

52 degrees was pretty toasty for Gary

Pontiac Canyon

I'm on the East overlook, taking a photo of the West overlook

Wildcat Canyon, looking good!!!!

Move em out!!! It's time for lunch!!!  How many people does this platform hold????

We took an additional walk on the flat trail coming from the overflow parking area.  The biggest burl in the park is located here.

They brought their cookies in the morning.  While we were all hiking, my office mixed them up and repackaged them.  We even had a few that didn't make it in the packages, those were great for dessert.

Some walkers had their spouses meet them for lunch.  48 enjoyed lunch.  We also took up a collection for the local homeless shelter (IV PADS) $330.00.  This was a great day.  How many times does one person get to be in a room filled with their friends?  I am totally blessed and grateful to be able spend my Thursdays with this group of people. 
I will leave you with this: For one minute, walk outside, stand there, in silence, look up at the sky, and contemplate, how amazing life is!