Friday, June 26, 2015

06-25-2015 Wildcat, LaSalle Canyons

Theme photo of the hike

I was a little worried about the trail conditions today.  We have had LOTS of rain!  Some of the trails have been closed from time to time over the past 2 weeks.  Some of the trails have even connected to the Illinois River in a couple of low spots.  The Visitor Center's parking lot has been closed for about 2 weeks now.  It has been raining off and on for days.  The river goes down, and then it comes back up.  I had no idea of the trail conditions until I went on the hike today.  The group of 31 hikers and 2 dogs left the Lodge's lobby at 9:00a.m. and heading out on the Campanula Trail to Wildcat Canyon.  From there we went down the major stairway into Wildcat Canyon (not to bad).  We continues East on the river trail and into LaSalle Canyon.  There was a few muddy spots, but nothing to bad.
All in all it was a great hike.
Heading out on the Campanula Trail

A few "rays"

Upper Wildcat Canyon, (just the teaser)

Wildcat Canyon from the East overlook

Wildcat Canyon
Another angle of Wildcat Canyon
View of the Dam (all gates open) from the River Trail

Blue Cohash, berries in the center will turn a deep blue

Crown Vetch along the river

The couple to the right was staying at the Lodge and joined us for the hike.

Lace capped Hydrangea

Spiderwort is still blooming in the mornings

LaSalle Canyon didn't disappoint today.  I even took a video

lower part of LaSalle Canyon

Coming out of LaSalle Canyon, I couldn't help but notice the crack in this tree.  When will it fall?

There were 4 or 5 snakes here sunning themselves today. Taking advantage of the sun.

There were quite a few snails on the move today.

Brown eyed susans

Wild roses

Kind of a mean looking sky from Eagles Cliff

These ladies were staying at the Lodge and came hiking with us.  They have been friends since they were 4.  What a great trip to the Starved Rock!

View of the pelicans from Eagles Cliff

View of the Dam from Eagles Cliff.  Notice that all the dam's 10 doors are open.  The water level is equal.  There is generally about a 15-17 foot difference.

Found a few Campanula flowers on top of Eagles Cliff

View of Starved Rock from Lover's Leap
Jacob's ladder is closed from the bluff trail.  There is still a small section of the trail at the bottom that is flooded. If you see a closed trail or if the trail is flooded, you need to TURN AROUND for your safety!

Best of all today!!  The black raspberries are ready.  Pick a few and eat em.  Leave some for the next hiker.

Some of the walker's club pick up trash along the way.  Some days we see more trash than others.  Today was a messy day.  We found cans, clothing, plastic water bottles (the worst) and an assortment of wrappers.  My friend and fellow hiker Jack wrote this poem....

Leave No Trace
Parks are gifts to you and me, 
a haven to go with sights to see.

I am glad there is a place,
where I can go and leave no trace.

John Muir said our soul restores
when we share the great outdoors.

Yet there seems to be some space
where green gives way to others trace.

A plastic bottle, a soda can,
a candy wrapper in the sand.

Why would one behold such beauty
and disregard a greater duty,
to stow the trash in its place,
and keep the park without ones' trace?

Perhaps we'll leave this legacy,
for generations yet to see.

I hope my children visit this place,
and say, "Dad came, but left no trace"

"He loved this place, but left no trace."

I will leave you with this: If you haven't seen anything incredible today..... Go Outside!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18, 2015 St. Louis, Aurora, Sac and Kickapoo

Theme photo of the hike (St Louis Canyon Waterfall)

Today's Walker's Club altered their schedule due to the high water and muddy trail conditions.  Some of the trails at Starved Rock are under water and impassable.  Just like on the road...if you come upon a section of trail that has been flooded by the river, turn around.  We opted to stay safe and walk to St. Louis.  We were rewarded with 3 great waterfalls and 1 trickle in Kickapoo Canyon.  We had 32 walkers and 2 dogs.  It had just finished raining and the humidity was very thick. 

Leaving the Lodge area and going over the walk bridge on the way to St. Louis Canyon

Looking back at Aurora Canyon

After the flower disappears on the May Apple, the apple appears.

Sac Canyon
Lace Capped Hydrangea
Wild Ginger, notice the small maroon colored flower at the base?
View of Unimin from the West Bluff trail

Tall Thimbleweed

Red Honeysuckle Vine

Brown eyed Susan

Spider wort was everywhere

Last bridge before St. Louis Canyon Waterfall

Excellent Waterfall in St. Louis Canyon


Purple Campanula Flower growing on a rock on the way back

There are many rock formations on the West trail.  This is a unique rock with a hole all the way through on the bottom.

Walkways are nice, however, when wet they are VERY slippery

Aurora Canyon has one of the smallest interiors.  We had to take turns going into the canyon

Aurora Canyon

Steps coming out of Aurora Canyon

More steps on the way out of Aurora

These tall trees are amazing.  Just imagine the stories they could tell....
I read in the local paper about poison ivy.  What it looks like.  We all have heard the saying: Leaves of three leave them be.  Well once you get out there on the trail, every thing is green and there are lots of leaves.  So I took a few photos of poison ivy looking plants.
Leave of 3 yes, but not poison ivy. This is the leaf stem for Jack in the Pulpit

This is poison ivy.  It also grows as a vine

This grows as a vine, but isn't poison ivy.  It is Virginia Creeper.

More Virginia Creeper

This is Poison Ivy growing as a vine.

Day lilies by the back door of the Lodge

Some walkers relaxing in the Lodge's Cafe with a cold beverage after the hike.
It was a hot humid hike.  We saw some great waterfalls, thanks to the recent rains.

I will leave you with this: Just living is not enough, one must have sunshine, freedom and a few flowers.