Posts Tagged ‘ravine’

Oh, What a Night!


I own 33 acres in the hills and have camped and hiked there a LOT over the years.


Buffy became my hiking partner when she was 2 or 3 years old. I took this picture in 2007.


The Old One, my favorite tree friend, wasn’t in as good shape as she looked here.


A wet-weather creek runs through the ravine.


Are you curious about my title “Oh, what a night!”

This is where it happened.


I spent an evening recently, looking through picture folders in my computer. I came to one of a spring camping trip to my property. The landscape was all so fresh and green. Buffy and I went to sleep that night, listening to the whip-poor-wills and chuck-will-widows.

 I left the rain flap off that night and opened the windows all the way. I woke in the night. The moonlight was bright enough to easily see our surroundings. Buffy was sitting up, very still, looking out the door. I eased up on one elbow.

The barred owl family — both parents and four owlets– were scattered about in the trees just south of camp. The adults called back and forth. The young joined in, lacking volume and the correct rhythm. Buffy and I just sat, side by side, looking out and listening. I didn’t see any of the owls before they eventually moved on to the south.

Buffy was as mesmerized as I was. Somehow she knew it was a special time.

Barred owls have been one of my absolute favorites for years and years.

I still have vivid mental images of that night: one of her profile as she looked out the door, the lit areas and nighttime shadows the moonlight created in our surroundings.

 I can still see it all as plainly as if I were looking at pictures.

A Cloudy Day Short Hike

It may not have been a bright sunny day (early in February). At least it was near freezing, and a light snow began falling. Buffy and I just had to get out before the next weather possibility.

A pretty day doesn’t have to be bright and sunny.

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This grassy expanse, on my rural property, is a sandstone barrens. There’s another barrens on the other side of the ravine. Little bluestem grass is the dominate plant.

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Last night’s heavy rain increased

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the flow in the creek.

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It didn’t look like anybody was at home.

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Sandstone outcroppings occur commonly along the ravine.

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I call this outcrop “my rock.” It has a natural seat (top left) where I sit and enjoy the view.

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View to the left (north).

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View in the front (east) and

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 view to the right (south).

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The little bluestem grew taller last summer than I’ve ever seen it before. The stalks grew to my height and even more. I’ve seen it less than 3 feet during severe drought years.

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Mini snow cones for sale?

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We passed five deer feeding near the road on our way home.

Eagle Mountain

Our afternoon temperature reached 16 degrees. Buffy and I just had to get out of the house.

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Naturally, for a short outing, we went to Ingram Hill for a loop walk and for the long view. The distant line of hills is what I call Eagle Mountain.  Of course, one hill is called Cave Hill (the one on the left). One is William’s Hill Tower, and another Womble Mountain. The road is named Eagle Mountain road.

There is a cave at Cave Hill on Shawnee National Forest land. I’ve never seen or been in it — I don’t do caves. It’s been closed to the public for several years now.

The hill line continues to the south (right) and a little more to the northeast. There are hills on this and the other side of the ridge line too, which makes for scenic views. The view to the west stretches over flat land that was glaciated. The glacier made it to the middle of our county. South of here and across southern Illinois is hilly, with a many state and federal recreational sites.

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It’s five miles from Ingram Hill, as the crow flies, to where the road starts up the mountain. The almost three-mile road twice goes to lower elevation. It crosses a narrow water course the first time. The second time it goes down, it crosses the creek where Buffy and I hike. The road starts below the left side of the bluff line in the picture. There is a deep ravine between the road and the bluff.

Oh, what a view …  and what memories to walk back through during the extremes of this winter.

Along the Creek Bank

The sun divided its time between shining and hiding behind clouds, as the pictures show.

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I wish I knew what the trees thought about living on the edge of the creek. This is a wet-weather creek, which means it has more of a decline through the hills, and only has water during the wet times.

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Moss wouldn’t have a chance to grow on these low roots.

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like it does on this tree and the one in the next picture.

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This shows how rocky the ground is from ravine’s eroding over the eons.

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Future heavy rains and flash flooding might occasionally move a rock.

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I wondered what caused all the holes. The center looks like a face with a big forehead and a pointed chin.

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Buffy and I turned around here and headed back to the truck.

A Mysterious Rock Wall

Last fall Buffy and I hiked south in the ravine up to the Shawnee National Forest land that borders mine. There’s a rock wall that I’ve visited so many times over the years and wondered why it’s there everytime.

With the angle of the sun, I went on to the south end and started back from there. Back in the 60’s a man built a small cabin at this end — which was illegal because this is National Forest land. He took part of the rocks at the upper end of the wall and made a tall elaborate fire place. I refuse to put it in the pictures. The cabin was gone before I started hiking here.

The wall was constructed with large sandstone rocks. It measures roughly 200 feet long.

A few rocks fell over in this section.

Here the creek altered its course over time and part of the wall collapsed into it.

What was it’s purpose? When was it built?

  The hills slope dramatically down to form a narrow ravine. The steep hills slope to both of the creek’s sides just up from here.

 Obviously, the wall wouldn’t have been used to corral animals. I’ve never been able to think of a single use for it.

 We started walking back north.

One thing I know for certain —

the wall didn’t build itself.

Trees Filled With Stars

Years and years ago I read  writing by either Edwin Way Teale or Hal Borland (think Teale). He and his wife went for a winter night hike to see the trees filled with stars. Naturally, I had to check the woods in the ravine at my rural property. Davis (my youngest son) and I dressed warmly, got our flashlights and headed down.

It has to be a moonless sky and no clouds.

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We first entered the woods and sat on “my rock” at the top of a small bluff. Stars FILLED the trees. We sat there. Geese flew over, honking. Our next stop was a downed tree near the dry creek. Davis had a small flashlight and sat investigating the bark on a small tree. He found a tiny hole with lichens around it and a teeny mushroom in it.

After going back across the creek, we laid under a tree I called the Grandmother Tree with our heads near the trunk. The limbs made it look like a giant spider standing over us.

We walked out of the woods. I wondered if stars filled the little bluestem grass too. The tall grass stalks made the barrens look like a prairie. We laid in the grass, his head on my shoulder and mine on his. Stars filled the grass too. An owl hooted. Another answered.

That was 23 years ago when Davis was 9. The hike is still a vivid memory for both of us.


I took this picture on a cloudy day and then darkened it considerably in Photoshop and added the stars.

Trail Cairns

I own 33 acres 7 miles southeast of the house. Shawnee National Forest land borders it on the south and private property on the other 3 sides. I have permission to hike on both neighbors.

I’d never heard the word cairn until I found one between two Native American graves with stones piled on them. They were on private land.

Besides marking graves, cairns were also used my Native Americans to mark trails. The one above is on Forest Service land. I just happened to walk up to it one day. It and the one with the graves have a pointed stone standing upright. The one standing in this one is at the upper edge. The cairn was roughly 6×7 feet.

This cairn is on my property where the ravine starts sloping upward. I’ve hiked here for over 25 years. I walked by it who knows how many times. I never saw it as anything other than a pile of rocks.

Then one day, when hiking by, I had a “lightbulb” moment, “That’s a cairn!” The 2 larger rocks on the left are much larger and are sticking out of the ground. The cairn measures 10 feet wide and 6-7  feet from top to bottom.  I have wondered how many years the pointed stone has remained upright … I now wonder when each cairn was made … they could be really old … like 100’s of years! If only the stones could talk.

It wasn’t too long after finding that one that I found another cairn in the same ravine on my neighbor’s to the north. The 3 cairns are roughly in a line. The one south on Forest Service is at a much higher elevation, but in the same line.