Thursday, December 26, 2019

Forty-eight Starved Rock Walkers (+2 dogs) used this sunny day after Christmas to climb the Rock, enter French Canyon, and see Eagle Cliff.

 There weren't a lot of winter coats and gloves seen today.
 To go from the Lodge to the Rock you have to descend the 150 metal tread staircase down the South Bluff.
 Two-thirds of the climb up the Rock is an asphalt ramp.
 Sixty-six more stairs and you reach the boardwalk that circles the top of Starved Rock.
In this view from the Rock to Leopold Island you can see the beach and rip-rap around the island that has been under water about 180 days this year. 
 This second flag pole, 100-feet of stainless steel, was gifted to the Park by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1988. They also supplied the first pole in 1913. 
 A view of Starved Rock Lodge from the west side of 
Starved Rock.
 Back down the 66 steps and headed for French Canyon. Cocoa the dog has been a SR Walker as long as I have.
 Now down the ten carved sandstone steps into French Canyon.
 The waterfall on the headwall of French Canyon, seen today in mostly trickle mode, is probably the most photographed waterfall in Illinois.
 Today's youngest hiker escorted by far from the oldest of today's hikers.
 About forty walkers comes close to filling the floor of French Canyon.
 Once you have walked up the waterfall to enter the canyon, walking down it to exit is not a problem.
 All who entered the canyon also got out without getting wet.
 Hikers like muddy trails that are mostly leaf covered.
 A turkey-tail "fun guy" party on a trailside dead tree in French Canyon.
 The last three flights of the 144 step main staircase to the top of the South Bluff.
 A "Boxing Day" view of the hungry butte from Lovers Leap.
 I asked her if I could have an Oreo. 
This is not her "yes" face!
 There is always something to see from the Eagle Cliff platform. We did see one bald eagle on today's walk.
It looks like some of the new lock chamber gates, to be installed next summer, have arrived at their destination.

To quote most of this week's 
social media users,


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Forty-seven Starved Rock Walkers (1 dog) met at the Lodge today for our annual Christmas lunch. Whodda thought we would have to take a ninety minute walk before the dining room opened! Fortunately most of us were prepared for that!

 Leaving the Lodge to build some appetite

French Creek did not look this cold last week!
I wore my ice microspike traction. Didn't need them. All we encountered was an inch of loose snow. 
Down the stairs to the Wildcat Canyon rim boardwalk.
 Ice climbers have to wait until the hanging icicles meet the growing ice mound to form a complete column.
That will not happen for a while yet. 
 An east rim view down to Wildcat Creek shows how the October deluge dammed the left side of the creek and pushed the flow to the right underneath the canyon floor access stairs. 
 Former Park naturalist Tobias Miller would tell young hikers a story about how huge mericats would break the trees during thunderstorms. Maybe!
 Browsing deer love young white pines so not many can be found in the Park. This nice collection of saplings is on a steep slope behind Sandstone Point where even deer can't get good footing.
 Some helpful Walkers explained that this could be the Park's attempt to attract picnicking kayakers!
 By the time we descend the bluff onto the River Trail the freezing temp is not that noticeable.
 I always ask "Is the sandstone block holding up the tree or is the tree holding up the sandstone?" Geologists know!
 Busy beavers left these morning branch drag marks next to the River Trail leading to the water. We still haven't found where this wood is ending up.
 Less than a dozen Walkers braved the thin ice on Wildcat Creek to get closer to the headwall.

 We surprised this "snow eagle" that was perched on
a bench atop Eagle Cliff!
 Might that be a "shelf elf" texting Santa about the
behavior of some Walkers?
 The cookie exchange! Bring two dozen cookies, take home two dozen assorted cookies!
 Most of us exchange that green 12-punched club card sitting on the table for a free lunch! The SR Walkers also passed a basket and donated $324.00 to IV PADS. Happy Holidays!

This shopping season recalls a quote
from Anatole France,

"It is good to collect things; it is better to take walks."

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Forty-three Starved Rock Walkers (+2 dogs) Took the East Bluff trail out to LaSalle Canyon and came back along the River Trail. A great December day for a walk in the Park!

 Fifteen minutes from the Lodge we enter upper
Wildcat Canyon.
 Here the group is leaving the Wildcat rim boardwalk headed for Sandstone Point.
 Trying to avoid the mud on the rim of Basswood Canyon is always tricky.
 The walkers arriving onto the exposed bedrock at 
Sandstone Point.
 Leaving Sandstone Point.
 A view down the headwall notch to the west wall of Lone Tree Canyon.
 The tree that was part of that stump on the left was cut off the staircase this week. The trunk is on the right and the broken handrails have been replaced with new wood.
 The bottom step of the Sandstone Point staircase is a challenge no matter what direction you encounter it.
 I always use this 2014 derecho gust victim as an example of how deeply rooted the Park's trees are NOT.
 That's a carp boat in the Starved Rock Pool gunning its engine to drive Asian carp into the nets they just put out.
 The confluence of LaSalle Creek and the Illinois River is a good pic in any season.
 None of the newly cut wood from the beaver sign we are now seeing along the River Trail is ending up here on the abandoned lodge in LaSalle Creek.

Yes! We walkers use binder clips for lots of things that 
do not involve paper!

Walking the east wall trail into LaSalle Canyon.
The LaSalle Canyon headwall falls are my favorite!

The lower LaSalle Canyon falls and plunge pool.

This walker claims to have been in this canyon some 500 times since April, 2012. Maybe!
Walkers rounding the base of Sandstone Point
on the River Trail.
Climbing the stairs at Eagle Cliff back towards the Lodge.
Even before we finished the heavy morning frost was turning the trail back into mud.

 I have to agree with Paul Dudley White who said,
"A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world."