Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hennepin, Hidden and Owl Canyons 05-19-2016

The Illusive Green Dragon

The day was beautiful!  High 60's and sunny.  The trail was a bit muddy, but the waterfalls were fantastic.  The Spring Wildflowers were hanging on.  We drove to Hennepin Canyon parking lot off of Rt. 71.  There was 34 hikers and 2 dogs. Not much trash on the trails today.  Of course there shouldn't be any.
Map at the trailhead

Multi flora rose near the parking lot.

Prairie Trillium

Not much of a view from Hennepin Canyon Overlook

Coming off of Hennepin Canyon we saw these fisherman on the river

Wild Geranium

Hennepin Canyon looking south from the walkway bridge

Hennepin Canyon Waterfall ( I zoomed the camera)

Looking down into Hennepin Canyon (notice the bird's nest)
Zoomed in photo of the bird's nest

Doll's eye plant

A young Paw Paw tree

Everyone waiting at the top of the stairs of Owl Canyon

View of Owl Overlook (now closed) from the Illinois river

good showing of Mouse Eared Chickweed

The underside of Solomon's Seal

It's hard to see, but there is some Yarrow here.  It is the plant with feathery like leaves.

There are  still quite a few Jack in the Pulpits out there
Ferns are everywhere and every shape

Little bit of mud on the trail

Invasive Honeysuckle

After the hike, many of the hikers stop in our Cafe for a cup of coffee, soda or have lunch.  The Cafe staff changes this inspirational saying at least once a week.

After the break, Jack, Joe and I went in search  of the Illusive Green Dragon.  Yes that is the real name.  When on the search, we were approached by quite a few hikers on the trail wondering what we were looking for.  When we told them the Green Dragon, they thought we were kidding them.  After a lengthy search, Jack had the eye for it.  It wasn't the one we had seen in the past, and it wasn't perfect.  But it was a Green Dragon.

The Illusive Green Dragon.  Notice the whorled leaves with the flower (green dragon) underneath the leaves.  It is a cousin to the Jack in the Pulpit.  Best of all, check out the yellow center of the flower shooting out.

I will leave you with this:  Take time today to appreciate someone who does something you take for granted.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 16, 2016 St. Louis Canyon, Aurora and French Canyons.

Today's hike was the Waterfall and Canyon tour.  We offer this tour every Monday and Saturday during April and May.  I was scheduled to be the hiking guide while Kevin was the Trolley driver.  The tour began at the Lodge at 11:00a.m. with Lunch in the Main Dining Room.  We all boarded the trolley at noon and headed for St. Louis, Aurora and French Canyons.  Enjoy the journey!!

My first Spiderwort flower of the season.

Was really surprised to still this Nodding White Trillium.  Located in St. Louis Canyon

St. Louis Canyon

Everyone loves St. Louis Canyon for photos

Couple from Colorado came to see the Waterfalls here.  I don't think they were disappointed this time around.

This water snake (non poisonous) was sunning himself on a log close to the waterfall in St. Louis Canyon.
This May Apple is hanging on.  There aren't many white blooms to be found.

This patch of Virginia Waterleaf is on the way into St. Louis Canyon.  However, it can be found throughout the park.

Columbine (red-salmon colored) with Mouse Eared Chickweed in the back (white)

Found this RARE Coral Root flower on the way into St. Louis Canyon.
Steps going into to Aurora Canyon

Aurora Canyon
Going into Aurora Canyon Miterwort / Bishop's Cap has the best showing of anywhere in the park.

Maiden hair fern isn't everywhere in the park, but can still be found in Aurora Canyon

Everyone made it into French Canyon, and didn't disappoint.

French Canyon

Of all the canyons visited today, French was the overall favorite.

We then walked to the top of Starved Rock.  There was a group of hikers on Lover's Leap finishing up their hike.

This was a black cat behind the flagpole at the top of Starved Rock

Flagpole at the top of Starved Rock.

View looking West from the top of Starved Rock
View of the Lodge from the top of Starved Rock

You would think I would be used to the raccoons by now.  Generally in the early evening, raccoons wake up and go from can to can.  Please do not feed the animals here. They do fine on their own.
I will leave you with this: Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle.  The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf.  To be grateful is to find blessings in everything.  This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kaskaskia, Ottawa, Illinois Canyons and Council Overhang May 5, 2016

Today's hike began in the Lobby of the Lodge.  We had 47 walkers and 3 dogs.  Today we drove out to Council Overhang parking lot and walked into Kaskakia and Ottawa Canyons and into Council Overhang.  Some then walked the "Swamp trail" to Illinois Canyon parking area and then walked into the canyon from there.  Some did move their cars so they didn't have to battle the boot sucking mud on the "Swamp trail"   When I came in to work this morning I couldn't help but stop and take a couple of photos representing the coming of the leaves and the beauty of the morning.
Best photo of the hike today.
Edna's Tree (back entrance to the park)
Entering the Lodge

Poison Ivy is out and doing well. "Leaves of three, leave them be", better yet - "If its green leave it be"  (You don't need to be in the green stuff to enjoy the park)  Stay on the trails!

Wild Geranium is at its peak.  This patch is immediately to the left when starting on the trail to Ottawa/Kaskaskia trail

Jack in the Pulpits are also everywhere.
Nodding Trillium

"The Boot"

We are almost all in Council Overhang.  There was 47 of us, and there was plenty of room for more.

View of Council Overhang looking out.

Virginia Bluebells are on their way out, they will peak again next year.  So sorry if you missed it.

Today we went into Kaskaskia first then Ottawa Canyon
Kaskaskia always is good for a photo.

The "Mystery Plant" from last week now has a name "Swamp Saxifraga"  It grows on the canyon walls.  I have noticed it in Kaskaskia and French Canyon. 

Here is a string of the "Swamp Saxifraga"  Thanks Jared, for helping with the name!

Virginia Waterleaf is just starting to flower

There are a few Squirrel Corn plants still hanging on

Ottawa canyon is always mesmerizing. 

My friend Carey came for a visit from Kansa and joined us today for the hike.

West wall of Ottawa Canyon
These are the best boots for this trail, today.

Only when we wear our boots are we called the "Starved Rock Rocketts"

There was a part of a tree down on the walk bridge going into the canyons. By the time you read this it will be all cleaned up.

Doll's Eyes / White Baneberry - In the summer, the white fuzzy stuff will turn into white berries.  They will look like a doll's eyes, hence the name.

Iris, may even be called a Swamp Iris.   I believe these will be yellow. Will have to keep an eye out.
Little bit of Wild garlic on the "Swamp Trail"  (I think)

Found this skull on the parking lot when coming out of the Swamp Trail in Illinois Canyon

A patch of Prairie Trillium in Illinois Canyon.  This was just a sampling of what is growing here.  Just amazing!

Blue Phlox is holding on for a few more days.

With 47 people, this hiker found a quiet, reflective spot in Illinois Canyon.

Our state flower " Violet"

False Solomon's Seal.  There is a flower coming out of the end, in the summer it will be a white fuzzy thing.  If there was no flower on the end but a series of flowers down the underside of the leaves it would be real Solomon's Seal.
I will leave you with this: Happy are those who take life day by day, complain very little, and are thankful for the little things in life.