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.....

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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Down in the Paw Paw Patch

This past weekend, a friend and I took a nice hike, to some areas that were new to him. We walked down an old abandoned road that is grown up with small trees and brush; with erosion working away at it. As usual with me, we were following along the wooded areas above and along the river.

We stopped to look north out over the bottom land from a nice vantage point. The river makes a sharp turn just below here; with a deep hole of water.

We went back to the old roadbed and continued following it, until it just became a path through the woods. We noted that the Buckeye trees were all losing their leaves; probably from the severe dry weather we have had. Every tree we came across, had leaves turning brown and dropping. For those that do not know, this is what Buckeyes look like when still on the tree and in the husk.

When down to the river level we stopped for a break.

We continued downstream; walking along the bottom of a steep bank. We had to move carefully in a couple of spots along there, but made it with no problem.

About a quarter mile or so downstream from here, we went through an area with several small groves of Paw Paw trees; and stopped to pick some. These were still green and on the trees, so we had to shake them down. A few fell into the river, but we each got some. Hopefully these will ripen in a short while. These have been called the Bananas of the Midwest; and the flavor compared to bananas. I do not really think they taste like bananas, but they do have about the same consistency as a ripe banana.

           Paw Paws in the tree.

         Searching for the fruit that we shook to the ground.

About another quarter mile from here, and we had a steep climb to the top of one of the high bluffs above the river. This is the same location as shown in a recent post; and the spot where the Bald Eagle flew past below me. 

We needed a rest after the climb! While we were sitting there "Rusty" pulled out a few snacks from his pack.....we ate those, drank some water, and enjoyed the view.

The tree I am standing beside, is the one shown from the earlier, recent post. As you can see, I have my arm around the step back..........and it is a long way to the bottom!

It was another great day out in the woods!

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

Monday, August 15, 2011

Early August...early morning

If you have not been here for a while; in what is quite unusual for me: this is my third post for if interested, you might check the posts below this one. I am trying to catch up with my backlog of pictures.

When the heat broke a bit, I got back out for a hike. I had been out several times wading the river, but without my camera.

As I started, the sun was not yet above the eastern tree line.

I headed across a field of sunflowers, heading toward the trees in the distance. I spotted a very healthy plant in the field...Jimson Weed. This plant is bad news. If it is growing on your property, you might want to chop it out and get rid of it. It is poisonous if ingested; can cause severe sickness...and possibly death.

There are lots of wild flowers in blossom now...always making for a scenic hike.

I have not yet identified this plant. It has balls with small spikes, quite attractive.
....additional information added March 16, 2012....a Paleoplanet member by the handle of "Rootbeer" believes that this plant is Rattlesnake Master; and apparently is a plant that can be used for cordage or fiber, with an ancient sandal found in a rock shelter in Missouri made of this....Thanks Rootbeer!

This is Blue Vervain. My dad used to gather this plant; let it dry; and sell it to his herb buyer. It is used as an ingredient in some medicines. Do a bit of research if interested in it's properties...and use good judgment before using it or any wild plant as a medicinal.

Goldenrod; another plant with medicinal properties. I know a guy, that is model train/railroad hobbiest. He takes Goldenrod and uses the blossomed branches to make quite realistic looking little trees for his rail set up.

Down by the river..........
Here is a neat trail through the soft sand. Can you guess what animal made it?? It is often referred to as a quite busy should be able to guess correctly from that clue....

The river, as with all streams, is always changing...cutting away the banks on one side and moving in that direction, most noticably at the sharp bends. I have taken a picture of this tree buried in the sand numerous times over the last several years. It is unique, in that it came to rest in such a way, that it has stayed firmly in place. I have canoed this section of the river and can recall canoeing past this buried tree; but it was then on the far side of the river and I would have been canoeing through the area where I stood for this picture. I also have pictures of my dogs out on the ice near this tree when it was in mid-stream. I believe that picture is in an earlier post in my blog.

The river is at a very low level now. During our recent hot weather, it was a nice outing to wade the river, with my light weight spinnig rod. Areas like the below picture can be very productive. I have caught some nice Rock Bass recently, using a small spinner bait cast along weed beds such as those in the picture. It is also common to catch Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass. A fun little fish to catch in these areas is the Pumpkin Seed....a small member of the Sunfish family, but very agressive, sometimes taking a bait not much smaller than them.

Mid July Early Morning

This hike was taken during the recent heat wave that we had. Even though this was in the early morning, it got too hot to be out hiking by the time I got back to the car; late morning. After this event, I began taking easier outings, several of them just wading the river with my spinning rod.

The sun was low enough in the eastern sky when I started, that it was still somewhat dark in the woods. I cut cross country to one of my favorite areas above the Middlefork River. This spot is featured throughout several of my earlier blogs....and will be in future blogs. These are two of my better pictures from this vantage point, with the early morning lighting really helping convey how it feels to stand there and look out over the river valley. I will be making another post in the near future, from a hike this past weekend; that will have a picture of me standing beside this tree...on the opposite you can see, it is right on the edge of the drop-off. I would guess that by next spring, this tree will succumb to the river cutting away the bank below; and slide down into the river. When I first arrived here; I was just standing admiring the view, when movement caught my eye and I saw a Bald Eagle flying along the river below me.....quite a magnificent sight!

I hiked on down to the river level; walking the bank and when possibly venturing out on the exposed sand/gravel bars. When standing on this one a Bald Eagle (probably the same one) came soaring around the bend, about 25 feet above the water.....saw me...banked hard, and flew a large detour on the other side of the river, before gliding back over the water and continuing downstream. Two fantastic sightings. I did get my camera out the second time, but not quick enough to catch it.

Still further downstream, are the foundations from an old iron bridge. I believe somewhere, back in my earlier posts; are a couple of very good pictures that I took several years ago, of the bridge.

From here, I went back up the bank and continued on downstream; but got into some VERY thick brush with lots of large sharp thorns; so changed my course. I had reached an old strip mine area; just completely overgrown with brush...lots of steep little hills...and it was getting I decided that portion will wait till Fall or Winter. I did come across an area with Hazel Nut bushes. Those were a favorite of my mother and I sometimes would pick a few for her when I came across them at the right time of year. Finding these brought back childhood memories..........

Walking along one of the many ridges from the old strip mining days; I finally came to an open area in the brush. There below me was a  lake! This was quite a surprise, as I did not know it was there. From what I could see, there is no access to the lake, but just very thick brush all around. If it had not been getting so hot, I probably would have climbed down for a better look. I will come back, but park on the other side of the river and wade across to check out the lake and surrounding area. It will be a much shorter distance to the lake....I just need the river to stay low enough to safely cross....probably not a problem.

It was time to head back. It was hot and uncomfortable and I had gotten into an area that was a struggle to get through. I kept walking east along the ridge above the lake, thinking I would soon be out of the brush; and finally started working my way north and eventually got out into the heavier, older growth woods.....still hilly, but cooler and much more open for easier walking. I stopped on a hill top........had a snack and a cup of coffee and just relaxed.....a much needed break.

When getting back nearer my parking area, I came across a patch of Mayapples.....very common, but several of these still had fruit. The fruit is normally gone by this time. These were still quite solid. When they are ripe, they are softer and turn a pale yellow color. I learned from my dad, that there is a nice sweet juice inside, if you find them at the right time. They are also full of pulp and lots of seeds.

It was a good morning hike, but it was good to get back in my car and head home; to a needed drink of water....the coffee I took along, was probably not the best choice for the hot weather, but was a nice luxury when sitting on the hilltop for a break.

Horseshoe Bottoms Revisited

I see it has been a while since my last post. I have accumulated a backlog of pictures; and will make an attempt over the next few days to get a few updates here.

On my last hike to the Horseshoe Bottoms area; it took me about 90 minutes of hard hiking to get there; AND THEN, I could not locate the proper way back to my parking area, so took a long hike along a road to reach it. I was determined to solve that riddle......and was able to quite easily.

I went back a couple of weeks later, with a compass; took readings as I went and hiked straight south from my parking area.

  My first surprise was reaching the small stream that I had followed the previous time in under 15 minutes.

I crossed the stream and headed up hill.

My second surprise, was that in no more than 5 minutes from crossing the stream; I arrived at my destination...that had taken me 90 minutes on my prior visit! I looked about there a bit, then decided to get back on course and continue hiking straight south.

Working my way through the area with prairie plants, I passed numerous plants in blossom; and was very fortunate to get a picture of a Hummingbird Moth....perhaps not the correct name, but what I have always heard them called. They are pretty neat moths and are actually almost as big as a hummingbird. (Click on the second picture below for a better view of the moth.)

These are Buckeyes, still on the tree. As soon as I can, I will post a more recent picture of some Buckeys from a hike I took with a friend over the weekend.

I continues south, down into the river bottom area; eventually coming to the river at a section where it was running from west to east.

From here, I followed ther river back upstream, in the general direction back to my car. I climbed up a steep hill from the river level to a high bank overlooking the river and bottom land areas; and stopped to rest. I broke out my water and snacks and just relaxed there a while.

I then hiked to the northeast, until I came to a location that would put me back on course to my car; and hiked straight north.......arriving back at the parking area with no problem.

It was an enjoyable early morning hike. I will get a few more updates here soon.....possibly another yet today.....but will see what the evening brings.....until and as always......get out and enjoy the outdoors in your area.