State Parks Indiana

Great Birthday!

There is nothing like a hike in the sunshine on your birthday! Great day at Prophetstown State Park!

Fluffy Milkweed seeds frozen in ice on pond.

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Categories: Birding, Hiking, Prophetstown State Park, State Parks Indiana, Tippecanoe County | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Surviving the Six-Ravine Challenge at Shades

Let’s just start out by saying, sometimes we don’t make wise decisions!

The Six Ravine Challenge has you starting on the backpack trail down (to Sugar Creek) on the western leg of trail 8 back up the western leg of trail 7, down 4 and up 4, down 5 and up 5, down and up 1, down and around 6. This takes you through Shawnee Canyon, Kickapoo Ravine, Fritz Ravine, Kintz Ravine, Devil’s Punchbowl, and Red Fox Ravine.

We intended to accept this challenge sometime late September or in October–Sometime when it wasn’t 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity! But SAC was wearing a heart monitor and the doctor told her to go hiking and dig potatoes and whatever else she needed to do to get her heart “palpitating”!

So she decided to go on August 19th! It was 85 Degrees and very humid – house windows were fogged up so about 80% 0r 90% humidity. Let’s just say that all our hearts were palpitating! I’m sure the monitor got some awesome readouts!

According to the naturalist and the website, the Six Ravine Challenge is 4.5 miles. According to Map My Walk <insert link> and SAC’s Fitbit ™, we actually walked about 8.6 (me) and 5.7 (SAC) miles in 4.75 hours! We started at 11:30 and stopped around 4:20. And that was with multiple times resting on the ground and an extended period lying on a picnic table with a cold bandana on her face!

We felt very proud of our ability to get this done and not die! Many thanks go out to my wonderful husband ROC because neither of us would have made it had he not been with us, I don’t think. We don’t do humid very well. He doesn’t always hike with us and hadn’t intended to do the entire challenge, but just kept leading the way, urging us on and telling us not to quit before we got it done. What a coach! Our hero, as always!

Because SAC had to lie down on the picnic table, ROC and I were able to get a great look at the blue-tailed skink. (too fast for a photo and too worried about cooling SAC down!) SAC had seen one earlier while she rested at one point on the trail.

We saw a DeKay’s brown snake – we seem to see them quite a bit since we learned what it was. Isn’t that the way with learning? As soon as you learn about something, you see it everywhere.

Dekays Snake

Most of our time was spent focusing on the trails though. We did hear and see some of the usual Shades birds: Eastern Wood Pewee, Nuthatch, Turkey Vulture, Pileated woodpecker. And we heard an Acadian Flycatcher.

All in all, I’m glad we challenged ourselves for this extended hike. It gives me a great satisfaction knowing that this 65-year-old woman still has it in her to do something like this.

We’ll put this up with the 3 Dune challenge that we accomplished a couple of years ago.

Happy hiking! Hopefully in less humid conditions!

 

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Three-Day Spring Break at McCormick’s Creek

Spring break started with a sunny 50 degrees on Friday, March 23. Saturday we got ice followed by 6 inches of snow. Sunday we drove down to McCormick’s Creek State Park in Spencer, Indiana, where they also had snow, but significantly less than we had.

We had reservations for two nights at the Canyon Inn so ROC could sit in front of the fireplace and read while SAC and I hiked.

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Sunday afternoon we struck out on a short hike to the old Statehouse Quarry, then drove to Bloomington for dinner at Big Woods Brewery. They make some amazing burgers, and SAC enjoyed her Six Foot Blonde American blonde ale.

Monday we started with breakfast with the birds at the inn restaurant. Then SAC and I started out the first of our hikes for the day. We drove to the nature center and hiked Trail 8 (paved) until it connected with Trail 5 to Wolf Cave and Twin Bridges.

We saw lots of cold wildflowers, including these bloodroots…

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…and some harbinger of spring.

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The thrilling moment of that hike was when I spotted a Barred Owl fly to a roost. SAC managed some shots of it, even though it was pretty far away. Then it swooped silently off. We had been hearing an owl earlier, so it was nice to see it too.

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We checked in on ROC and then headed back out on Trail 3. The creek was up and there was a hiker with an off-leash dog, so we turned around and went to the other end of Trail 3 before deciding we didn’t want to climb that many stairs, anyway!

We headed back to the Wolf Cave parking lot to pick up Trail 7. We hiked all of that and got rather muddy in the bottoms along the White River. The upper portions of that trail were carpeted with snow trilliums!

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Then it was time for a late picnic lunch in the lounge, followed by Trail 9, which goes through the historic Peden Farm Site, where limestone foundations show the large barn and small house, and the springhouse has been restored.

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After that we limped back to the inn for a late dinner at the restaurant, followed by reading and writing in the lounge (until it got too loud). The rain moved in while we were in the lounge.

The next day it was still raining, so we took a leisurely drive home. A short spring break but a fun one!

Categories: Hiking, McCormick's Creek State Park, Spring | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lemons to Lemonade – November 27, 2017

So today we decided to go hiking at Shades State Park. Our first stop was the post office. SAC had a huge Etsy mailing for her Redhead Paper shop that needed to go out today. Without going into a long explanation, it took forever and it cost more to mail than she had envisioned and her business card wouldn’t work there! Oh, well. Live and learn.

Second stop was grabbing a lunch to go. SAC forgot to order a large iced tea. No biggie. We had water.

Finally got to Shades. Closed due to deer reduction hunting. “But you can go to Turkey Run.”

No!

Turkey Run is beautiful and all that, but we don’t go there unless it is out of season. It’s way too crowded otherwise. We decided to go somewhere else, but Turkey Run was on the way, so we stopped in to use the facilities. It turned out the parking lot wasn’t very crowded at all, so SAC suggested we hike to Camel’s Back.

It was another beautiful day – almost 60 degrees and sunny. We walked out Trail 10 and back Trail 3. We always try to stop and take a deep breath to clear away all our troubles and concentrate on the beauty of Creation.

What a beautiful late fall day! Just enjoying the crunching leaves – no sneaking up on birds right now!!!

We saw the usual goldfinch and titmice, nuthatches and chickadees. We also saw both black vultures and a turkey vulture.

Woodpeckers were the birds of the day – Red-Bellied, Hairy, and lots of Red-Headed woodpeckers. We were stumped for a while on a noise coming from all around us. I had almost decided it was a blue jay or squirrel, but it was multiple Red-Headed Woodpeckers – more than I had seen and heard in a long time.2017-11-27 14.30.42

We peeled off our long-sleeved shirts and were walking in t-shirts until we got to the canyon part of the trail. Just an FYI – don’t hike Trail 3 backwards! It’s very awkward to go down the narrow steps carved out of the canyon walls!

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It’s amazing how much the temperature can vary in the ravines at Turkey Run and Shades. The carved handholds along the rock cliffs in Rocky Hollow made me wish I had gloves on and the water in the creek that I washed my muddy hands in was frigid! We could even see our breath!

As we drove back by a McDonald’s, we ordered an ice cream cone and a mocha frappe. We got the ice cream in a bowl with the cone on top and a chocolate chip something or other instead.

All in all, it was a gorgeous day where we were able to make lemonade out of all the lemons the day had tried to shove our way!

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#OptOutside or Hike Friday

Shades State Park- This is how I enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving!!!

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Super Snake Sighting

In recent years we’ve learned about a type of snake that is proving more common than we expected–the Northern Brown Snake, or DeKay’s Snake. This year alone we’ve seen at least five of them on our property.

SAC and I were hiking at Prophetstown a couple of weeks ago and were fortunate (and fast) enough to spot a tiny DeKay’s Snake!

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It’s also been a good year for Big Bluestem in Indiana — look how tall that is!

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Categories: Prophetstown State Park, Reptiles | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Long-Eared Owls

Sunday, February 5, 2017 – There had been multiple emails on the Indiana birding list serve about the Long-eared Owls at Prophetstown State Park. We had been seeing them for almost 2 weeks before we were able to make time in our schedule. We had pretty good directions on where to find them in the park (unlike the last time one was seen there.)

It was a gorgeous day 46 degrees and sunny, but pretty windy out on the prairie. We started on trail 1 towards the site and there was no mistaking where the bird was – birders and their spotting scopes or determined hikers with binoculars.

Within seconds of coming to the site, we were helped to locate the birds and quickly saw 3 of them!!! Yay – LIFE BIRDS!

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SAC was able to take pretty good photos of them although the saplings in the fen were good camouflage.

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She took pictures with our DSLR and she also used her iPhone and Bluetooth shutter release to digiscope some pretty good photos.  I’m not a good judge of distance, but they were maybe 20 feet off the trail. We kept a quiet demeanor and didn’t stay very long so as not to disturb them. I don’t know that they would have been disturbed. They have been in the same location for 2 weeks, at least, and haven’t seemed to mind their paparazzi!

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We decided it was such a beautiful day and we had been working hard all weekend on cleaning and decluttering the house, so we walked on towards the pond. We saw northern shovelers, mallards, and American tree sparrows. Still present were 12 mute swans, 2 of which were juveniles.

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We walked on to see if Trail 3 was inundated by the water like it was on our last trip, but it was now open. We didn’t have time to take that, so we headed back to our parking lot via the paved, multi-use trail. We heard a ruckus towards the Wabash River – a murder of many crows probably was protesting an eagle although I didn’t get a look at it. SAC thought she may have seen it, but wasn’t sure.

We had a great day and were able to add to our life list!

 

leow-digiscope

One of SAC’s digiscoped photos

 

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End of year wrap up – Good bye 2016

Our Indiana Bicentennial Year has ended as has the Centennial of the State Park and National park systems.

We logged a total of 147 birds, 93 of which were in the State Parks and Reservoirs.

We visited all 24 state parks, 8 lakes and state recreation areas, all 3 national sites (seashore, memorial and national park).

We visited all 92 counties and several state historic sites.

I logged 68.81 hiking miles. ROC logged 27.16 hiking miles. SAC logged 55.96 hiking miles.

I logged 45.28 Advanced Indiana Master Naturalist volunteer hours and 14.65 IMN learning hours.

Highlights: Whooping Cranes, Pacific Loon, Blackburnian Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Mississippe Kite, Wilson’s Snipe, Smith’s Longspur and Great Horned Owl on the nest.

We enjoyed seeing the state, driving the backroads and visiting the many beautiful small towns and county seats and visiting all the sites. Weather quite often seemed against us, but welcome to Indiana! We haven’t added up the miles driven, or the dollars spent. That may be added at a later date!

Lesson to be learned – Get out and visit your home state. You never know what’s around the bend!

Categories: Bicentennial Birding Big Year, Birding, State Parks Indiana | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Hike of 2017 – Shades State Park

Even though rain was forecast for January 2, SAC and I met up with a coworker at Shades State Park this morning. He has a knowledge of orchids and was showing us some places that they grow in Shades and Pine Hills. After walking around the top of Trail 1, we decided to hike trail 10 over to Pine Hills.

shades

Now, I had spent the most part of the week between Christmas and New Year’s eating cookies and reading cozy mysteries, so not in the best of shape. SAC had spent several days laying around with a migraine and some kind of bug. (Not that we were in the best of shape anyway, since it had been several weeks since our last hike!)

Let’s just say, the steps down to the backbones KILLED us! Calves and thighs and oh my! We were both so out of shape that walking up and down stairs at home and work the following day were very painful. Add to that the grace that I was not born with that allowed me to slip down a muddy creek bank and land hard with my already sore shoulder still hanging on to a sapling and you have a very sore old woman. (At least I feel old this week!)

Anyway, we had a wonderful time hiking at our favorite place. Photos are never enough to give the full experience. The sights and smells of the mostly quiet forest calmed our souls and erased the headaches that we had when we arrived.

We were able to learn about several orchid species and can’t wait to locate them during bloom time.

Birds were scarce, but the regulars were there: Nuthatch, chickadees, blue jays, pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers, crow, geese and possible ovenbird. First time we haven’t seen an eagle here in a long time, though.

Great time at our favorite place! Go out and hike, no matter the weather.

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North-Central State Parks – October 30

We made a LONG one-day trip out of visiting Mississinewa Lake, Salamonie Lake and Ouabache State Park on October 30, 2016. We enjoyed our trip and ended up driving a total of 320 miles.

At Miami SRA (at Mississinewa) we saw several regular species including about 15 turkey vultures and 100 ring-billed gulls.

At Peoria SRA (also Mississinewa) we saw a Herring Gull – a new one for the IBBBY list!

The Interpretive Center was open at Salamonie – Amazing!!! And what a fantastic center it was. We hiked the Turkey Trot Nature Trail behind the Center.

At the Tailwaters, we enjoyed watching the antics of 2 juvenile bald eagles and 2 adults. The juveniles were a second/third year and a first year. We may have seen 5–2 of the juvies flying were too white to be first years.

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After a yummy late lunch at the Berg Ale Haus, Huntington, we drove on to Ouabache State Park and hiked around the bison enclosure. We were able to see Cindy, the new bicentennial bison baby – first female born there.

SAC took a bit of video of Cindy and an adult bison eating.

 

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