Thursday, February 23, 2017

Feb. 23, 2017 Starved Rock, Wildcat, Pontiac and French Canyon

Today there was 50 hikers out to enjoy this beautiful day!  We left the lobby at 9:00a.m and headed to the top of Starved Rock.  On to French Canyon, Pontiac Canyon, Wildcat Canyon, Eagles Cliff and Lover's Leap. 

Enjoying Wildcat Canyon with friends

Going down the back steps of the Lodge

Everyone heading up to the top of Starved Rock

Almost there folks, just a few more steps.

Beautiful view looking to the East from the top of Starved Rock

Ron giving his rendition of the Legend of Starved Rock

View of the Lodge from the Starved Rock

Solar panel at the top of Starved Rock

We saw this juvenile bald eagle when we were leaving the top of Starved Rock.  It was in the "Cove area" between Starved Rock and Lover's Leap

On to French Canyon,

French Canyon!  Looking Good!

Coming out of French Canyon

Some trash is just too far off the trail to retrieve safely

So many trails and directions.  Let's go to Pontiac Canyon next.

Pontiac Canyon from the Bluff trail

Top of Wildcat Canyon, from the bluff trail

Whats left of the ice.  Not much!  Probably will be gone by the end of the day.

Wildcat Canyon Waterfall.  Nice to come here without people climbing all over the place.

We always like Wildcat Canyon in the early Spring

Some places we just don't go, and neither should anyone else.

View of Eagles Cliff from the River Trail

Moss and Ferns along the river trail.  Getting Green!!

Eagles Cliff Overlook

Best View in the park.  Looking East at the top of Eagles Cliff

Its been so warm this past week that some of the shrubs and trees have buds.

Really getting green

Fisherman at the base of Starved Rock.  Getting ready for the upcoming tournaments.  Lot of boats out today.

Top of Starved Rock from Lover's Leap. Note the boat in the lower right corner.

This pink jacket has been working its way down the cliff.  It has been littered here now for about 3 years.

Thought for the day in the Cafe
I will leave you with this: The eye never forgets what the heart has seen.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 16, 2017, St. Louis, Aurora, Sac and Kickapoo Canyons

What a great weather day.  There were about 38 hikers today that started out in the Lodge's Lobby.  We first went to Aurora Canyon, then through the picnic area.  We scared up a mature bald eagle here. Went on the old road trail over the entrance road and into St. Louis Canyon.  When we got back to the Lodge about 16 of us when to the main dining room for lunch, coffee, hot chocolate or tea.

Ice is almost gone- Aurora Canyon

Couldn't help but post this photo today.  Stopped on the side of the rode on my way into work this morning.  Eagles eat more than fish.  This deer has been feeding the eagles all week. A few daring crows wait their turn.

Hikers waiting at the trailhead for the end of the group to catch up. 38 hikers in all. At least I think there was 38 or so....

Today we went into Aurora Canyon first.  We usually save it until the end and then people opt out.  What a great Canyon, shouldn't be missed!!!

Ice in Aurora Canyon.  Later in the hike we will be walking on the upper trail, looking down into the canyon.

Aurora Canyon

As far as people space in the canyon, Aurora is the smallest. We had to take turns.

And here's the rest.

The parade is in town!!!

When we went across the bridge to the old road (trail) this sign alerts us that weapons, vehicles, pets, horses and camping are prohibited.

There was some beaver activity east, right off the old road (trail).

The hill stairs climbing up and over the entrance road is usually sketchy.  No mud here today.  It was still frozen.

Coming over the entrance road and into St. Louis Canyon

We eventually went down these steps, but first.....

A lady from North Chicago was telling us that in this pod is about 200-400 praying mantis eggs.  They will hatch out in the Spring.


This stage occurs just before winter. The adult female praying mantis lays 100 to 400 eggs after fertilization. The eggs are laid safely on a firm leaf or stem with a liquid that hardens to be a protective sac structure known as ootheca. The ootheca is a protective casing (very hard and able to survive extreme weather changes) in which the eggs will stay throughout the winter. In mid-spring when the temperatures are warm, the nymphs will hatch when the egg cases crack.

Entering into St. Louis Canyon

We typically had to cross the creek when going in.  No big deal.  Everything was still frozen, or had a boards.

St Louis Canyon icefall / waterfall from the sand pile.

I have no idea how this ice is still up there.  Video to follow of canyon.

Last years leaves for the Hepatic wildflower.  The little white/lavender flower will be one of the first wildflowers in the spring.  After the flowers die out, the new green leaves will follow.  We will see green leaves all summer. 

Taking a break on the West Bluff natural seats.

Peggy and Jack are getting carried away with Peggy's new garbage picker upperer.

How many feet is this boardwalk?

Kickapoo Canyon.  Kind of a blink and you miss it kind of a canyon

Top of Sac Canyon

Top of Aurora Canyon

Can you name all 8 of the Illinois Official symbols?, bird, tree, reptile, flower, insect, prairie grass,  animal and fish. If not the photo below has the answers.

This carving is at the West end of the Lodge property.
I will leave you with this: The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.