Archive for the ‘Hike’ Category

Buffy

 This is definitely a disjointed blog, and

a sad day.

Buffy, our 12-year-old chocolate lab, passed away over the weekend from complications of old age. She was a big girl, weighing almost 100 pounds.

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Actually, she was our son’s duck and goose hunting buddy when she was younger. When she got older, she became my hiking partner.

  We hiked a LOT! … and camped occasionally too.

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   Southern Illinois has a wide variety of places to hike, and we visited and revisited several of them over the years.

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Lately Buffy was sick enough that we only went out when she wanted to take a short walk in the backyard.

This picture was taken when we were both much younger.

My days now are ……

Therese, This One’s for You

Buffy and Therese sat on top of the bluff, surrounded on three sides by a horseshoe-shaped lake.

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 The “road” in is an old railroad bed, with a steep hill on the north and a wetland with a creek running through it on the south.

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This was the first view when we reached the pond.

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A redbud tree bloomed at the base of the bluff, and the water lilies were starting to fill in areas of the lake.

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This shows where we started the climb up to the top. The slope seemed steeper than it looks when we climbed it.

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We often saw a pair of turkey vultures perched on the rocks to the right of the redbud tree.

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Obviously, we didn’t get near the edge of the bluff.

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A horseshoe-shaped outcropping paralleled the bluff.

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The whole area was beautiful during every season, especially in the spring when the wildflowers bloomed.

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It wasn’t a place to take young kids.

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Therese, I hope you enjoyed your hike.

Kathy

A Short Morning Hike

So many of the blogs I follow have posted ones showing beautiful fall colors. I greatly enjoyed each one and was quite envious.

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I was on the road that led to Eagle Mountain, where Buffy and I hiked a lot. The road is treacherous now with washed-out places that could flip a vehicle. Needless to say, we haven’t gone up there in over a year.

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Buffy has a hurt hind leg. My husband watched her while I drove a loop over to Stone Face. The turkey vultures were apparently gathering and heading southeast.

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Obviously, they didn’t take time to pose for pictures. A wider angle picture would’ve shown nearly 40 of them.

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If these aren’t called pixie cups, they should be.

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A fresh buckeye butterfly landed on the edge of the dry creek. It will soon migrate south, because they don’t overwinter as far north as southern Illinois.

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Here’s another picture to show off the fading fall colors.

Hopefully, they will be brilliant next fall.

A Cypress Swamp

These are pictures from September, 2008 when I took a friend of mine to Heron Pond, a cypress swamp. I live on the east side of southern Illinois. Heron Pond is about 45  miles southwest from my house.

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The Cache River (obviously not a river) meanders through the wetland area of the Cache River State Natural Area. The trail leads to a floating boardwalk that zigzags out into the swamp.

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Duckweed covers the surface of the water. The curvy trail shows where a snake swam through.

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This is one duckweed plant. Duckweed has the smallest flower known — 0.3 mm.

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Frogs call in swamps. An occasional duck might call as it flies in or out of the swamp.

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Frogs jump with a splash. Turtles occasionally a turtle slides off a log into the water.

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These pictures were all taken on the same trip. The swamp differs with every season and type of weather.

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The sunlight came and went.

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The swamp has a silence all its own.

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It’s a place where I would just sit on the boardwalk and become totally immersed in the experience.

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On one visit my best friend and I followed the trail to an Illinois state champion cherrybark oak.

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This sign gives all the information on the tree — 22 feet 6.5 feet circumference, 100 feet tall and the crown spread of 113 feet!

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I’m on the right and by best friend on the left. It was hard for us head for home. It was a special day. Any day in the swamp can be special.

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My husband took me and the boys to Heron Pond one cold winter day. We sat on the boardwalk, eating lunch. The water had been much higher, and a strong winter front froze the water four to five inches thick. The weather then moderated somewhat. The water level dropped, leaving ice tables clinging to the trees. The four of us sat on the boardwalk, eating our lunch. Occasionally an ice table fell off a tree, the crash echoing through the swamp.

Later we drove to another part of the swamp and walked down to it. We walked around, staying where we could see the bluff. Keith, my oldest son, was always investigating. Ron saw him just in time to holler at him … he was a step away from a cotton mouth … mouth open, showing the “cotton.” Davis rode on my husband’s back the rest of the way back to the vehicle.

 

 

Relive a Memory

The words, “Relive a memory” came to mind. How odd?

My mind started wondering and ended up with when I wrote nature articles for the Saturday edition of several local newspapers. This was in the 90’s. I illustrated every article with an ink drawing.

It didn’t take long to pick out the memory I wanted to relive.

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Bell Pond, a remote cypress swamp.

My son, Keith, went with me. He was 15 years old.

Intermittent rain fell. There were no trails as we followed the water’s edge. Every step was a slurp. One of the first things I saw was a water moccasin. My little red umbrella almost kept my sketchbook and field notebook dry. A bullfrog called. A long dark snake swam effortlessly along the water’s surface. Another snake rolled off a log into the water.

The sky darkened again. This time dark-dark. Thunder was nearing. We picked up our pace as we followed an animal trail, the only trail through here. Suddenly we were in a heavy downpour. I hurried to the water’s edge, not wanting to miss a thing. The area was open with dead trees scattered about and a thick undergrowth of buttonbush. All was grayed by the angled sheeting rain. Occasional lightning  and rolling thunder added to the experience.

We heard bullfrogs. Deer flies found us. Fallen sticks, logs and patches of dense vegetation made walking difficult. Some areas smelled fishy from all the crawdads. The rain finally stopped. I was soaked!

The word dismal must have originated with someone trying to describe a swamp on a rainy day. After 3 1/2 hours of hiking, we were tired and very exhilarated. We couldn’t have had more fun if we had tried.

The swamp was an amazing, intriguing, eerie place for a visit. The weather added even more drama to the wildlife packed wetland community.

I was just glad I didn’t call it home!

Gloomy Day Mystery

Sunday ended up being another cloud-covered day, with intermittent drizzle. I decided to go for a hike and ended up being the only one at Jones Lake.

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I followed the lake trail. Rose hips on the swamp roses added a little color to the gloomy day.

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 The clouds continued to increase during my hike, which changed the appearance of the rose hips on my way back to the truck.

It always amazes me how drops of water invert the view.

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 Here is my real mystery. I can’t explain why the light bands are reflected vertically on the water. Where did they come from?  The tree-covered hill would have a more solid appearance. The clouds wouldn’t be in bands either. I don’t see how my height compared to the water level would make a difference. Maybe there’s a scientific reason that would be way over my head.

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On darn, (being facetious) guess I’ll just have to come back to see if these reflections are still here.

Bang, She Was Special

Everyone called her “Bang.” Apparently she broke several bats, playing baseball when she was young. She was my Girl Scout leader through high school.

Spring wildflower hikes were one of her favorite activities. She knew exactly where certain flowers grew and when to visit them.

I got married, moved away for six years and then returned to Harrisburg. Her husband passed away during that time. They had no children.

I was a Girl Scout leader for eight years until both my girls graduated high school. By then Bang was housebound with emphysema. Friends brought her food and ran errands for her. She wouldn’t let me. I was her entertainment — I’d hike alone or with my kids, and then fill her in on all the details. She relived her experiences through mine. Many of the places were ones she’d told me about.

Her health continued to deteriorate. She wanted one more outing. It had been years since she’d hiked. My husband drove us. (I definitely wanted a man along on that trip.) We topped the hill where the road deteriorated and became an adventure. Ron stopped at the top so Bang could take in the view of the wooded hills, down across the low part, over a small bridge and start up a rugged hill.

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Bang sat on the edge of her seat. Ron drove slow so she could see everything. The woods were all leafed out. He pulled up into camp and parked the blazer facing south. Her eyes were so big. She was transported to a place of her own.

I walked off. Ron did too. I returned two or three times with a flower to show her up close. So, virtually, she was alone in nature with her thoughts. We were probably only there fifteen minutes until we had to get her home. We were seven miles from her house.

I can still see the sheer joy on her face. Those few minutes transported her into nature, and her nature “friends” came to see her.

She passed away about a month after our outing.

These were a few of her favorite wildflowers.

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 Jack-in-the-pulpit

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Celandine poppy

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Virginia bluebells

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Twayblade orchid

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Shooting stars

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Purple trilliums