Thursday, December 6, 2018

12-6-2018 Margery Carlson Nature Preserve

A couple of times a year the Walker's Club walks into an area Nature Preserve.  Today we chose to go to the Margery Carlson Nature Preserve.  This area is south on Rt. 178 about 6 miles.  Some people stayed in the park today and hiked with Joe Jakupcak to Wildcat, Lover's Leap and Eagles Cliff. We had 38 walkers go to the Nature Preserve.

About the Margery Carlson Nature Preserve
234.34 Acres, purchased in June 1976 with an addition in June 1978.
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.
Minimal parking at the Nature Preserve.  Only has room for about 8 cars.  Some had to park on the side of the rode.

Leaving the parking lot you follow a "trail" down a ravine.  There are no trails in the Nature Preserve, you are just picking your way through.  Once getting to the bottom we worked our way
Westward.  Should have gone a bit further, but it worked out ok.

Cool looking shelf fungi

The Nature Preserve is also used for hunting.  We were scheduled to come here last week but hunting was scheduled.  We swapped the hike for last week.  
Found a kind of fresh skull bone.  Think it was a deer. 

This was a metal walk way to an island in the middle of a lake.  I have never seen this before in all the times I have been here.

We all made it to the Vermillion River

This looked man made to me.

Walked a bit East and came upon this open to the Vermillion River again.

I'm glad today is Dec. 6th.
I will leave you with this: A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

November 29, 2018 LaSalle and Wildcat Canyons

It's Yak-trax time!

What a great day to hike!  We were scheduled for the Nature Preserve, but with hunting in the park we had to adjust our hike.  We left the lobby of the Lodge at 9:00a.m. and headed out on the Campanula trail to Wildcat Canyon and then further East on the bluff trail to the Lonetree canyon staircase down to the River trail to LaSalle Canyon.  There was a tree down at the entrance to Lasalle Canyon.  Some of the walkers went through the fallen tree.  I took my photos and turned around.  The weather was fabulous!  More on wearing foot attire later....

48 people came on the hike today

Top of Wildcat Canyon

The group coming to Wildcat Canyon. The trails and stairs are extremely icy. Yak trax and something similar should be worn when coming hiking in the Winter.  I gave everyone a brief talk on the available traction devices to attach to their footwear.  Pictures to follow:

This option is the cheapest.  About $5-$10.  These can be found online or in a local shoe store.  Not my first choice or recommendation, however this style is better than nothing at all and would be ok with very little ice and snow.

This option is ok for most hiking here. These sell for about $25 in the Starved Rock Lodge Gift Shop.  If you buy the regular ones without the strap, you will need to use something to tie them on so they don't fall off.  This is a MUST!  I have seen many people walk right out of their yak- trax and not even know it.  They do have a type called Yak-trax pros.  The Pros are about $5 more but come with a velcro strap. 

These are my recommendation. Kahtoohla MICRO spikes. They are about $60.  Well worth the money. These will be good in deep snow and icy stairs and conditions. You can purchase these at some of the outdoor sports shops and online.

Wildcat Canyon from the upper East Overlook

Snowy and icy trail

View from Sandstone Overlook

Everyone caught up to me for a mini break and view.

Look through the trees, you can see the bluff stairs

Joe is pointing out the Burl and talking about how and why it is there.

Going down the Lone Point stairs and Surprise, no snow.

All 48 people coming down the bluff stairs

View of the LaSalle Canyon stream flowing into the Illinois River

Looking toward the Tonti Canyon bridge on our way to LaSalle Canyon

LaSalle Canyon from a distance.  There is a tree blocking the trail.  Some people went around and some went on through.

Close up of the tree across the trail. We reported it when we returned. It should be cleaned up in the next few days.

A close up zoomed view of LaSalle Canyon ice fall

A mushroom log coming out of LaSalle Canyon

A view into no name canyon

This little area is always a little sketchy coming down the sandstone steps.  One of our members (Jack) lent a hand to everyone coming down.  Thanks Jack!

View of Eagle's Cliff from the river trail

We went into Wildcat Canyon to see the Ice fall and found some cool ice formations in the creek.

Wildcat Canyon has icicles.  Soon to be a full ice fall

Close up view of the Wildcat canyon icicles

We met Luna and his walker on the trail earlier.  Couldn't resist the photo.

Luna's owner told him it was time to go and he sat down. He then came up to him and said lets go its time and he actually laid down.  Too cute.  He probably had to carry him out.  Not sure. 
I will leave you with this: Every job is a self portrait of the person who did it.  Autograph your work with excellence.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Mid Week Mega Hike November 7, 2018

Mid-Week Mega hike Nov. 7, 2018
 8:30a.m. departure group

I love leading the Mega Hike especially the mid week mega hike in November.  This year my guide that went with me was Peggy. We boarded the trolley at the Lodge and the trolley took us to the East end of the park to Illinois Canyon parking lot and we walked back from there going into every accessible canyon and overlook.  Once we got back to the Lodge, there was lunch waiting for us.   Yumm!  We had a 1/2 hour lunch and then departed for Starved Rock and the West end of the park.  Great weather and none of the crowds that are here for the weekend Mega Hikes.

The trolley dropping us at Illinois Canyon parking lot.  We were the first group to arrive.  There will be another Mega Hike group arriving in a half hour.
Tree down in Illinois Canyon

Over or under.  Most of us chose under.

When looking for a waterfall, Illinois Canyon is a sure bet lately

We have been taking group photos by this tree for years on the mega hike.  When we started taking the photos on the mega hike the leaning tree was over their heads.

The boot area.  This is located on the trail right before Council Overhang

Coming down from Council Overhang

Kaskaskia Canyon.  I was really surprised there was a mini waterfall here.

Ottawa Canyon

We had some great colors on the trail today.  Up out of the Council Overhang area and over route 71.  First incline of the day!  That warmed many of us up.  Gloves and scarves were coming off.

Great view of the LaSalle Canyon Creek Bridge.

Entering LaSalle Canyon

LaSalle Canyon

On the river trail with a great view of Eagle's Cliff in the distance

This is the BEST view in the park.  Especially today.  Love the fall colors.  It could only be made better with a little bit of sun.

Lover's Leap looking at Starved Rock.  20 minutes we will be having lunch at the Lodge

The Legend of Starved Rock Plaque at the top of Lover's Leap.  Starved Rock is in the background

Miranda was checking everyone in at lunch.  Turkey BLT wrap, chips, apple, granola bar and a bottle of water

After lunch we went to the top of Starved Rock.  This is the view looking East.  Lover's Leap

While at the top of Starved Rock walking around on the boardwalk, I tell the hikers about the Illinois River, Eagles, Locks and the photo here of the Starved Rock Lodge.  There is so much history in the Starved Rock Area. 

First Canyon after lunch is Aurora Canyon.  We could of just walked up on the upper trail and not gone in, but why? This is such a great canyon, my favorite!

Aurora Canyon

Everyone seemed to like this canyon also.  Maybe they just said that for my benefit.

top of Sac Canyon

Last canyon is St. Louis.  Not much water falling today.

Coming back on the West Bluff trail. There are a few of these sandstone sitting areas. Nobody wanted to stop and rest.  It was getting chillier the longer we hiked.

Everyone seems to call this the "Orange Rock" 

Nice long stretch of the last boardwalk of the day.

Last stairway!  I promise this is the last one!

Final walk or run across the bridge.  I like to high five everyone coming across after the mega hike. The hike is 13.4 miles visiting all 18 canyons and 5 overlooks

My group of 21 all finished!  This doesn't happen very often. Way to go you were the best!

 I will leave you with this: Never get tired of doing little things for others, sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.