Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Starved Rock, Lover's Leap, Eagles Cliff, Wildcat and French Canyon

Hiking days are fun days!

It was a little drizzly today, bringing the number of hikers to 26 people. We left the Lodge and headed to Starved Rock, into French Canyon, up Jacob's Ladder and onto Lover' s Leap and then Eagle's Cliff.  To finish off the hike we went into Wildcat Canyon and then back to the Lodge via the Pontiac Canyon trail. Excellent.
26 hikers set out on this drizzly day.

22 steps, an incline and then 66 stairs to the top of Starved Rock.

Joe is telling the group about when the steps were put in.  His mother was here when the CCC workers were putting in the steps. 

View of Lover's Leap from the Top of Starved Rock

View of the Locks from the top of Starved Rock

No eagles today.  Leopold Island

Close up of Leopold Island

Flags at Half Staff through Wednesday, November 23rd to Honor Private First Class Tyler R. Iubelt

View of the Lodge from Starved Rock

View of the Lower Park picnic area from the top of Starved Rock

French Canyon

Most of the Walkers Club today (some didn't come in the canyon)

Regina and her grandkids coming out of French Canyon

A bridge across the stream from French Canyon.  Jacob's Ladder is coming up.

View of Devil's Nose in the distance

Barge going through the locks

View of a barge from Lovers Leap

View looking East from Eagles Cliff. "Best View in the Park"

Foggy view of the Illinois River from Eagles Cliff
We generally don't go to the top of Beehive Overlook.  Today we had some extra time.  Not much of a view with all the Pine trees.

Wildcat Canyon Waterfall from the floor of the canyon

Wildcat Canyon from the East Overlook, looking down into the Canyon

Small waterfall on top of Wildcat Canyon

Coming back via the Pontiac Canyon trail

New directional signs, that hopefully won't get overgrown

Only deer we saw today.  They were scarce today, especially with the hunting last week.

Snow will be here soon to keep this snowman healthy.

Some of the hikers enjoying a cool drink or a hot cup of coffee/hot chocolate in the Cafe after the hike.

Inspirational sign in the Cafe. They change the sign about once a week.
I will leave you with this: Be thankful for your entire family. Be thankful for what you will have.  Be grateful for those difficult times that made you who you are.  Be thankful for your friends that hike with you in the rain.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

11-17-2016 Buffalo Rock State Park

 We always start our hikes in the lobby of the Lodge.  Today's hike was scheduled at Buffalo Rock State Park.  We all carpooled to the park and walked from there.  This is the smallest of the 3 state parks in our area at 298 acres.  There were 56 walkers and 3 dogs.  What a record.  Not sure if the weather had anything to do with it or people just wanted to get in shape for the upcoming holidays.   Pretty sure it was the projected high of 73 degrees.

Buffalo Rock, true to it's name there are 2 buffalo (bison) that call the park home.
The park does feed them well and they also have a large grazing area.

Sign by the bison's hut area

36 hikers and 3 dogs take off from the parking lot at Buffalo Rock state park
Nice sturdy trail signs in this park

Some sort of Pampas grass grows everywhere here

All of us were listening to Joe tell us the story of how this park was formed.

Buffalo Rock is said to have served the French as an early military, trading and missionary post. LaSalle and Tonty, after building Fort St. Louis on Starved Rock during the winter of 1882-1883, gathered almost 4,000 Indian warriors at the front of Buffalo Rock and formed a confederation against the Iroquois. Among the tribes in the confederation were the Miami, who built their own fort on Buffalo Rock.
In more recent history, Buffalo Rock was used by a religious sect for camp meetings, and later as a site for a tuberculosis sanatorium. The Crane Company of Chicago purchased Buffalo Rock in 1912, and for a period of about 16 years maintained a sanatorium for sick employees and a summer vacation ground for thousands of employees and their families. In 1927, the Crane Company moved their recreation park to a larger area, donating the original site to the state to become a park. The deed to the property was turned over to the State of Illinois on November 15, 1928, with the provision that it would become a permanent state park and that the caretaker Robert Barnett, who was then 72 years of age, be retained in that capacity for the remainder of his lifetime as a reward for his loyal services.

Ron took a group up the back of the catfish

There are 5 sculptures of water creatures in the park.  Turtle, snake, water strider, catfish and frog.  This is one of the two signs still standing.  One is pictured below and the other 3 have a stand, but no photo or information.

Who does this????  The missing pieces were all over the ground, we picked them up and put them in our trash for the day.

View of the park, looking West
One of the signs marking the overlooks

View of the sandstone cliff and the Illinois River from one of the 2 overlooks in the park.

I wonder what the people capacity is on the overlook ? 

Stone steps coming off of the overlook

It was such a nice day today 73, I was hoping nobody was going to break out the water balloons or water guns.

Map of Buffalo Rock State Park.
I will leave you with this: Life is too short to argue and fight. Count your blessings, value your friends and move on with your head held high and a smile for everyone.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Employee Mega Hike 11-11-2016

Periodically we do a Mega Hike for our employees.  This is really good for our employees, as it gets them acquainted with the canyons and trails.  We had to omit the trails East of Hennepin Canyon, Rt. 71 was closed East of Hennepin Canyon.  They are working on Dimmick Hill (near Council Overhang).  Had great weather and even some colors. 

Still some yellow colors

Coming down the hill from the parking area.  We had 9 hikers and 2 dogs

Hidden Canyon.  Hidden Canyon is hidden, so we think we found it.

All taking a short break near Owl Canyon

Bridge along the River Trail

This baby Oak tree has some great Fall colors. 

I see so many leaves on the trail.  I know that this is an Oak leaf, but what kind?  My guess some type of a white oak.

Going into LaSalle Canyon.  This canyon is so massive, it is hard to encompass the beauty in a photo.

LaSalle Canyon waterfall.  It was great showing this canyon to Teresa, who is one of the operators at the Front Desk.  She finally got to see one of the canyons that everyone talks about.  Thrilling!

Hidden steps in LaSalle Canyon

LaSalle Canyon waterfall

(top row) Teresa, Ashley, John, Kevin, Joe, John, Amy, (bottom row) Rosie, Amy and Cash

What a great group of employees

Sandstone formation coming out of LaSalle and going into Tonti

Tonti waterfall on the West wall

Bridge going over the creek from LaSalle and Tonti Canyons

Little Garter snake watching the trail near the bridge by LaSalle / Tonti Canyons

No Name canyon on the river trail

I call this the Paw Paw Forest (on the river trail)

Not going up

View of Eagles Cliff and the Lock and Dam from the river trail

Wildcat Canyon's looking good

Wildcat Waterfall

Some lichen on the lower walls near the waterfall in Wildcat Canyon

Paw Paw leaves are huge

View of the Dam and Eagles Cliff from the River Trail

Red Oak leaves on the trail. Red Oak have pointed ends and White Oak have rounded lobes.

Still a great colorful view from Eagles Cliff.  "Best view in the park"

Illinois River traffic going West (this barge is waiting to lock through)

Lock and Dam from Eagles Cliff

View of Starved Rock from Lover's Leap

Closer view of Starved Rock from Lover's Leap

A few Pelicans still lingering behind.

Take with you what you bring in.
Now it is time for lunch. We enjoyed a Chicken Caesar wrap, bag of chips, apple, homemade granola bar and a bottle of water.  Once lunch was over (30minutes) we headed out again for the 2nd half.

1st stop after lunch is French Canyon

Another view of French Canyon.  Most people don't realize that this canyon has a sloping or cascading waterfall.

Walking out of French Canyon

View of Lover's Leap from the East side of Starved Rock

The park is replacing the informational boards around the park. 

Plaque and bench at the base of Starved Rock

Plaque near the bench

It wouldn't be a complete Mega - Hike without a visit to Aurora Canyon

Looking down into Aurora Canyon from the West Bluff trail

There is hardly a trickle in St. Louis Canyon

Joe shared his story of the Starved Rock Murders that took place on March 14, 1960.  Yes, he is still in jail for the crime.

Coming back on the West Bluff trail.  Sac Canyon

Last set of steps before the finish.  Total ascension for the hike 1442 feet

Finally finished.  This Gingko tree rewarded me with some wonderful color.
I will leave you with this: In life you will meet two types of people.  The ones who build you up and the ones who tear you down.  But in the end, you'll thank them both.