Thursday, February 25, 2016

Buffalo Rock State Park 02-25-2016

Today's walker's club had 29 walkers and 5 well behaved dogs.  We met in the Lobby by the front desk and carpooled to Buffalo Rock State Park.  It is the smallest of the 3 nearby state parks at 298 acres. 

There are 2 buffalo at this park.  Both looked real good today.  Sometime we come here and we can't even see them. Today they were very close. 

Buffalo 2 stayed a bit back.

It got a little interesting when the dogs when by the fence.  Bark, charge, bark, charge

After our short visit with the buffalo, it is time to walk

And we were off
I noticed a sign that said, stay on the trail.  I had not seen that sign before at that location.  So we followed it.  We came to a platform, that had a sign on the metal plate.  I have no idea what it said.  We could see the old tailing piles that was left over from the mining there from the Ottawa Silica Company.
They had really cleared out the brush since we were last here.  You can now see the Effigy Tumuli from the viewing deck.

  The Chicago based Crane Company purchased Buffalo Rock in 1912, where a sanatorium was built for employees.  On Nov. 15, 1928, the company deeded the property to the state.

The Effigy Tumuli, one of the more unique attractions in Illinois, can be found here.  This earthen art exhibit recreates sculptured earthen effigies dating back more than 3000 years.  Effigies were created by native peoples as temple platforms or burial mounds.  A result of a creative coal mining reclamation project on land donated by Ottawa Silica Company, the site contains a 2,070 - foot long snake, a 140- foot long frog and a 770 foot long catfish.  Also located along the mile and a half long bluff are a water strider and turtle.

View seen looking West on top of the snake formation

Group on top of the snake.  Wishing they could go down and explore.

On one of the overlooks on the wooded trail, overlooking the Illinois River, we saw this eagle's nest.  Yes there is an eagle in it. 

Where is the group geologists when you need him?  What's going on with the holes?  They were everywhere.

Beautiful colors on the rocks.  These are a sight to see especially if you are in a kayak (I know this from experience)

Steps leading back to the main trail from the overlook

One of the relatively new trail signs at Buffalo Rock
I will leave you with this: Take a hike or walk, because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office, mowing the grass or shoveling the snow.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Matthiessen State Park 02-19-2016

I had some friends come up from the St. Louis area for the Mega Hike on Saturday 02-20-2016.  They came up a day early so they would be ready to hike at 8:30a.m.  My friend Ron and his wife Carol and I took them hiking at Matthiessen State Park.  This is Starved Rock's sister park about 1 1/2 miles south on RT 178.  Very enjoyable day.  A little muddy, a little icy but 60 degrees.  No complaints here.

Bits of ice are still left.  Ice should be gone in a few days.

First ice fall of the day

Cement sidewalk leading to Matthiessen Lake

My friend Cathy, she walked with me through the Smokey Mountains, when I did a month on the Appalachian Trai.
On the foot bridge overlooking Matthiessen Lake and Lake Falls

Matthiessen Lake Falls, almost gone.

From Lake Falls we walked the lower trail to Cascade Falls

I love this part of the trail

They looked so colorful!  I just had to make them stop for the photo.

Stream crossings weren't so bad today.

They were probably tired of me taking photos.  Going up near Cascade Falls

Devil's Paint Box

This frozen fall was a surprise.  Once you go down the concrete steps this was on the right

Cascade Falls are almost gone

Cascade Falls

Cathy and Nancy having a heart to heart

This bonus ice fall was also melting quite rapidly

Stone steps near the bridge on the south end of the dells area
I will leave you with this: As I grow up, I realize it is less important to have lots of friends, and more important to have real ones.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

St. Louis, Aurora, Sac and Kickapoo Canyons 02-18-2016

Very comfortable hiking today.  No mittens needed.  Just above freezing.  When we were walking through the picnic area the wind pick up and it was a bit chilly.  The waterfalls were all frozen and so was the trail.  Yak trax came in handy on most places on the trail.  31 hikers in total today.  We left the Lodge on the West Bluff trail out to St. Louis Canyon.  On the way back we came through the picnic area and going into Aurora Canyon. 

I saw this owl on my way to work yesterday.  Lucky to get a photo.  Thought I would share it.

Top of Aurora Canyon

Top of Sac Canyon

Side view of Kickapoo Canyon

West Bluff Boardwalk trail.  Snow covered with a bit of ice

Iron in the sandstone (that is Gary's walking stick in the photo)

Bonus waterfall in St. Louis Canyon

Still frozen.  A bit hollow and not the purest of white anymore. 

I thought it looked like a melting ice cream cone.  Some said that it looked like a morel mushroom.

A couple of girls from Galena and their mom joined us on the hike today.  It was easy to find them with all their pink.

Ice formation on the canyon wall in St. Louis Canyon

We decided to go back to the Lodge through the picnic area. Up and over the road.  Going up....

Coming down.

This trail is the old road that was replaced when the current Rt. 178 bridge and road was put in.  In a few years the current road and bridge will be replaced.  And guess where it will be?  That's right!  Right on the old original road, so much for the hiking trail.  We'll see what happens.  Looked up a few things.  The current bridge was built in 1962, and the old Utica Swing bridge was built in 1906 (guessing it was torn down after the new bridge was operational.  You can still see minor traces of the bridge and road. 

Love these old trees.  Hate to see them fallen. 

We walked through the picnic area in hopes of seeing a few eagles.  We saw about 4. 

Crossing back over the road and into Aurora Canyon.  The best part of the day!

This was a little sketchy.  It was just snow, no ice.

Icicles inside of Aurora Canyon

I was at the end of the group, so by the time I got here, I was just about the only one in here.  Only about 10-12 people can fit into this canyon.

Aurora Canyon

Lichen along the Sandstone in Aurora Canyon. This was pretty neat.  Never really noticed it before.

Stairway leading back to the Lodge.  The hike was 2 hours and only about 1 1/2 miles.  With this stairway at the end, it seems like at least a 1/2 mile longer.

Joe, Terry and I decided to check out Illinois Canyon.  We will be having a Mega Hike this weekend and I am concerned about trail conditions in this canyon as the trail crosses a stream 3 times.  This canyon is also noted for its mud in the early spring.  Our checking did nothing for our weekend prediction.  Trail looks good and frozen with frozen crossings.  Will it still be like that on the weekend..... MAYBE????  We could only hope.

All along the 1/2 mile canyon are these incredible ice falls

Found this guy on the trail.  I had to replace his eyes and nose.  Well then his head fell off.  But I was determined to get a whole body shot. Really not sure if he will make it to the weekend's mega hike.
Bonus ice fall near the end of Illinois Canyon
Bonus ice fall, near "THE photo tree" in Illinois Canyon

Ice sheet about 6inches thick at the head of Illinois Canyon
Nice water flowing from Illinois Canyon

Going back crossing #1
Going back - crossing #2

Crossing #3

Parts of the trail was a bit muddy, but not to bad
I will leave you with this: You have to do what is right for you, No one walks in your shoes or hiking boots.