Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dec. 21, 2017 St. Louis Canyon, Sac, Kickapoo and Aurora Canyons

Today the sun stayed hidden while we took a walk to St. Louis Canyon.  We left the Lodge's Lobby and headed out on the West Bluff trail.  We had great top views of Aurora, Sac and Kickapoo Canyons.  St. Louis Canyon had a little bit of ice.  We are waiting patiently for more ice to form.  On the way back to the Lodge, some walkers went into Aurora Canyon.  Today we had 45 hikers in attendance.

Top of Sac Canyon

Halfway down the stairs near St. Louis Canyon

Someone at the front of the group thought someone would need some directions.

Everyone taking a break and enjoying the canyon

Not as much ice as I had anticipated.

Logs and debris at the base of the plunge pool

Looking out from St. Louis Canyon

Another view of the waterfall.  "Riggs" is in training, and by the looks of it, he is doing great!

When getting in and out of St. Louis Canyon, this is the "bridge".  Everyone stayed dry.

We are coming out of the canyon.  I looked back and we had quite the line.  No short cuts for this group.  I make them walk on the trail!

This trail has many sandstone formations. 

The West Bluff trail has a long boardwalk.  These can be very slippery when wet.

Top of Aurora

Steps going into Aurora

Joe, Don and Jack decided not to hike into Aurora Canyon

Inside of Aurora Canyon.  Always worth the trip for me.

Almost back to the Lodge
I will leave you with this: Everyday is precious! We are not guaranteed tomorrow.  Use today wisely! We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Dec. 14, 2017 Wildcat Canyon, Eagles Cliff and the Christmas Party Lunch.

Today was the best attended hike ever for the Walker's Club.  Could it have been all the talk about the frozen waterfalls building???? Could it have been the lure of a Christmas Lunch with friends????? Could it have been the delicious cookies that were brought in for the cookie exchange?????  Or the great weather we've been having?????   Anyway 63 hikers came for the walk today!!!!

Wildcat Canyon

63 hikers ready to go.  I counted them twice, yes there was 63

I am on the other side of French Canyon taking this photo. The line of hikers was very long today.

Pontiac Canyon

New signs are up.  This one is on the West overlook of Wildcat Canyon

Upper Wildcat Canyon.  I knew by looking at this section that the main part of the waterfall was going to be great.

Wildcat Canyon from the East Overlook

We went down the stairs into Wildcat Canyon.  From the top it appeared that the waterfall was connected all the way.  But when we got into the canyon we could see that it wasn't complete yet.  SOON!

Everyone was loving the ice falls

On our way up to Eagle's Cliff

Another new sign.  This sign was atop of Eagle's Cliff

Ken, one of our hikers was enjoying the view.  We did see a few flying today.

Starved Rock Lock and Dam.  This is the best place to see the bald eagles

View of Starved Rock from Lover's Leap

Leopold Island

One of the overlooks on our way back to the Lodge

Today was our Christmas Lunch.  I ordered the special, and yes it was delicious.

Cookies for dessert.  Every that wanted to participate brought in 2 doz cookies.  Once we left for the hike, my office mixed them up, and everyone left with 2 doz mixed cookies.

Walker's Club enjoying each other's company and lunch.  How blessed I am to be able to spend a few hours every Thursday with this group.

I will leave you with this: Sprinkle a little love into someone's heart today! Be a freind, be a blessing, spread joy everywhere you go.  The world would be a much better place if we all focused a little more on kindness.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Margery Carlson Nature Preserve 12-07-2017

About twice a year the Starved Rock Walker's Club goes to a Nature Preserve. Today we decided to go south of Rt. 178 to the 234 acre Margery Carson Nature Preserve.

This nature preserve contains young forest, bluffs and streams typical of sites near the Vermilion River in the Grand Prairie Section. Some excellent examples of eroding bluff plant communities may be seen here. Over seventy-five species of flowering herbaceous plants have been identified in the preserve including forked aster and bottle gentian. Deer, beaver and red fox are also known to inhabit the area.

This preserve is named in memory of Margery Carlson, who was instrumental in protecting the area, formerly known as Big Bend Nature Preserve. Carlson was a founder of the Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy, serving the chapter as its first secretary and later as trustee.

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Today there were 46 walkers.  We car pooled and still didn't all fit in the small parking lot.

Smile!  Especially if your a dear!

There is sort of like a trail once you leave the parking lot.  We went down a slope for quite a while, maybe 3/4 mile.  Once we got to the bottom I told everyone to stay together and make sure you could see the person in front.

We arrived at the Vermillion River and had to go down a small slope.

The View at the Vermillion River was spectacular. At least I thought it was.

I wish I knew what I was looking for.  I should have taken photos of the trees around me at this point.  I believe these to be "Cypress knees or knuckles"

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the bald cypress is the presence of knees. Cypress knees are cone-shaped structures that grow vertically from the roots of the tree where the roots are at the soil/sediment surface.  The most likely function of the knees is to provide stability in the swamp substrate. 
Knees were once thought to provide the roots with oxygen an adaptive strategy under flooded circumstances. Later, experiments showed that there was little exchange of oxygen between roots and knees. Trees that had knees removed continued to thrive.

Horse tails also grow here.  The other place that I know they grow are at the intersection of Ottawa and Kaskaskia Canyons in Starved Rock State Park.

I will leave you with this: Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” “The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps.