Recognition should be given to all those who have gone before; family members, friends, and others that may have influenced me in their own quiet way.

Special recogition should go to my father Kenneth (Kenny to all who knew him) and my grandfathers Selby and Chester (Jake), both born in the 1890s. All of these gentlemen influenced me in their own way...with time fishing, hunting, trapping, or just time spent togeher.....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Early November Kayak Outing

For my birthday recently; my family gave gave me a nice little kayak. That had been on my wish list, but as with many such things had been put off for more important things. I have used a canoe for about 40 years and am very comfortable with that, but kayaking is a new experience.

I called upon a friend of mine to go along with me on my first outing. Rusty has many years experience kayaking and provided valuable tips.

We headed out to a local river, the Middlefork, to put our kayaks in the water. It was very low, to the point that our kayaks bottomed out in several places; but was a place that I felt comfortable getting the feel of my kayak.

The day started at only about 30 degrees and was about 45 degrees when we got to the river, but warmed up over the next couple of hours.

I found that both getting in and out of the kayak is going to take some practice, especially when it is in water deep enough that it is floating free and not touching the bottom.

We took just a few pictures...........and they are right here...

Our kayaks sitting at the north end of a sandbar. We had carried them over the sandbar, because the water was too shallow and fast moving along it to paddle through heading upstream. On the way back, moving downstream, we were able to paddle through that area, except for a log jam that we had to portage around.

Rusty beside his kayak on a sandbar.

Me and my kayak along the same sandbar. This was the sanbar we carried the canoes the length of; and then relaxed and had a cup of coffee. The day was sunny, a bit cool, but very nice.

Rusty getting his kayak ready to launch from the sandbar. I had already headed off upstream and by this time, was beginning to feel a bit more comfortable in the kayak.

Rusty paddling upstream.

Me as we were starting back downstream. We had wanted to go further, but reached a shallow area where it appeared we had perhaps a hundred yards or so of quite shallow water; and the water was a bit too cold to be comfortable wading through. I did have a pair of boots, but not enough to keep out water for any extended wading.

Me heading downstream toward Rusty.

We were not able to go as far as I had hoped, but it was a great time spent outdoors and on the water. I gained some great advice on kayaking techniques and began to get a feel for my kayak. It is a Coleman Hooligan 85. It is only 8'3" long, which made it very easy to transport. I also found that it is very manueverable, much more so than my 15 foot canoe.

I look forward to the next kayak outing, with perhaps my collapsible spinning rod along to catch a few of the bass we spotted.

Until next time..........

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mid September Early Morning

I was able again to get out for an early morning hike. This time of year, you can expect to get wet, with the heavy dew on the plants. I suppose that could be avoided by staying on the trails, but I find it much more enjoyable to get off the trails and explore.

Dew still hanging heavy on the plants. The sun was just about to come up over the treeline in the background.

Spider's web looking toward the east...also heavy with dew.

At a bend in the river looking downstream. The river makes a sharp turn here and has created a nice deep hole of water. The river is quite low now, but earlier in the year there is a nice fast section of water coming down to the bend that is fun to take a canoe through.

A nice pond tucked away in the woods.

The strip mine lake that I have mentioned in a couple of past posts. I love that early morning haze and wish I was better able to catch it in my pictures.
After hiking a few miles up and down hills and crossing streams......I was tired; so stopped here....had a cup of coffee from a small thermos....put my pack down for a pillow........layed back....closed my eyes and just rested a bit.

Shiloh found this to be very unusual and kept coming back to investigate.

Interesting Hackberry tree that is growing up through a set of old bed springs.

A ripe Paw Paw. I took this home and shared it with one of my grand daughters. She liked it and kept asking for more. It had a nice sweet flavor.

By now the sun was up. Crossing through an open lowland area; the butterflies and bees were busy on the various flowering plants.

At this point, it was about 9:30 A.M. and time to head in from a very tiring but fun hike.

Railroad Walk - Labor Day Weekend 2011

Over the Labor Day weekend, I went out for a walk of probably just over 2 miles along a railroad track. This was just south of Hoopeston, Illinois.

It had been a cloudy, drizzly, overcast day; and there were a few sprinkles while I was out.

There is commonly a nice mixed collection of plants and wildlife along the railroad right of ways. In the past, I have frequently seen deer and of course squirrels and rabbits. A couple of times I saw groups of turkeys also.

This picture is looking north towards town.

There were numerous plants, some in blossom, which I unfortunately have not identified.

The plant with the blue blossoms is Chicory. I have read of the roots being dried and used as a coffee substitute, but have never tried it and would guess it would be a quite bitter brew. There are probably other uses for it also.

Wild asparagus.

This unfortunate little opossum did not make it across the tracks........yes it was really dead and not just paying "possum". You can see from it's feet how it makes the distinctive track that is so easy to identify.

Looking south. If I had continued about another 3/4 of a mile, I would have come to where the tracks cross the North Fork Vermilion River. At that point though, it is a quite small stream and I used to hear it refered to as Steely's Creek; and it was several years before I found out it was really the North Fork.....
A few times over the years, I have hiked down to the river and fished there....not catching much...but it is not always about what you catch. I did hook about the biggest carp I have ever tried to land there, surprisingly on a small Crappie jig. It ended up stripping the gears in my reel and ruining it before I was able to get it to the bank...........just another fishing tale

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Across the River August 28

Sometime this summer, I had stumbled onto a large lake; deeply surrounded by thick brush and briers, very difficult to navigate through. It was also during the beginning of a very hot period that ended up lasting several weeks. Recently I decided to visit the lake again, trying an easier route to it. I started on the other side of the river from it, estimating about where I could find the south end of the lake. The river is very crossing it was quite easy.....mostly stepped on stones through a very shallow area, but was glad that I had my Goretex hiking boots on.

As soon as I got across, I looked down and found an not a primitive stone arrowhead...but as you can see a much more modern one. It appeared to have been in the river for quite some time. Right there is a perfect example of why I always where tennis shoes when I wade the river fishing or am canoeing. That would be quite unpleasant to step on with bare feet.

After climbing up the bank and working my way through the brush along the river's edge; I came out into a nice open area.

Passing through the meadow; I came across a small patch of Dogbane. It has some medicinal properties and is also a plant that was commonly used to make cordage from......bow strings, nets, bags, twine, etc.

I walked north through that area about a quarter mile or so, then entered into the wooded areas; and then started getting into the old strip mine area and knew the lake was probably close. I had to work my way through large areas of Autumn Olives. They are now loaded with fruit, but it was not quite ripe when I was there, but probably is by now. It is edible, BUT this shrub was imported here as an ornamental, then planted in areas.....such as strip mine land to slow down erosion......and will just take over an area.

This small drainage ditch comes out of the lake. Walking up to the lake though was not a good option. It was just surrounded by tall wetland type marsh grass. So I again, walked through brush and climbed some quite steep old hills left from the strip mining operations from long ago........and did reach the lake's edge. I would guess that very few people that live in this area know this lake is here; and fewer yet have probably ever seen it.

The lake appears to be completely surrounded by trees and brush; with one the very narrow south end....I  believe there is access to it from an old gravel road. My son and I were there once when we were using the bicycle trails and left them to explore a bit. From my best guess, I think that was probably one end of this lake.

I sat for a half hour or so at the lake edge, just relaxing, enjoying the view, and resting in the sun. 

From there I headed back out of the thick brush and just went to the river to follow it. Walking the stream bank, I spotted a pair of young deer ahead and on the other side of the river, probably about 200 yards when I first saw them. I slowly worked my way toward them, stopping when they looked up and also looking at them with my binoculars. I eventually got close enough to zoom in with my camera. I was amazed that they stayed put; and believe it was because of their youth and inexperience...they had to see my...and my two dogs were in and out of the river swimming. Perhaps they will survive the coming hunting season....perhaps not. A hunter may give them a "pass" because of their small size. (Click the picture for a better look.)

Not far from the river I came across a very interesting plant. A bit of research when I got home told me that it is the Green Dragon Plant (Arisaema dracontium). It is somewhat uncommon and is related to the much more common Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Apparently turkeys and a few other birds will feed on the seed, but it is poisonous to mammals.

Back across the river, through the river bottom, up a long hill to my car........and this outing was done....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mid August Hike

For quite a while, it has been very dry here. Many plants and trees are showing the signs of going too long with too little water. Some trees have been dropping leaves for several weeks now.

I went out for a Sunday evening hike, which was the following day from the previous post. A small stream that I normally cross by walking over the downed tree that lies over the stream in the background of the picture; was dried up except for a few small areas.

This time of year, there are lots of spider's webs that you often walk into. Those are very annoying to walk into and have them stick on your face, especially in the hot weather we have had recently. I would not have wanted to walk into this spider's web, but did take the time for a picture, then left it alone.

I crossed the stream bed in the first picture, very near where I parked. From there, I walked mostly in a westerly direction; to where I again came to the stream bead, about 1/2 mile to the west. The stream takes a large circular path around the perimeter of the river bottom area and along the base of some hills. It originates from a very marshy area that is fed by springs. I did not go to that area, but will do so another time. When I got to the stream bed, I just began following it back around to where I had started. Being mostly dry, it provided an easy pathway.

There were a few spots that still had a bit of water.

This was an interesting find. It appears that a bird of prey died here. I would like to know the story behind this. This provides a nice look at the talons that these birds have for holding their prey. If you find something like this; look it over, perhaps take some pictures; but leave it where you found it. It is a crime to possess the talons, feathers, or parts of a raptor.

Some deer tracks in the soft mud along the stream bed.

Mushrooms growing from a rotting log.

Numerous springs were seeping out of the base of the hills alongside the streambed; enough in one area, that a section of the stream still had water from bank to bank.

From here, I detoured away from the stream and out into an open area; and walked to the east with the evening sun behind me. A large number of plants out in this open area have turned brown from the heat and lack of water.

This is a field of sunflowers. All of the blossoms are facing east. Does anyone know why? I do not, but it was very noticeable.

A sunflower with nice back lighting provided by the evening sun.

This was a nice and easy hike, mostly over flat ground; and the easy walk following the winding stream.